Dispensationalism’s ‘The Antichrist’ is not Mentioned in the Bible!

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  Nero’s Torches, Henryk Siemiradzki (1843-1902) National Museum, Warsaw Source: Olga’s Gallery

Introduction

‘The Antichrist’ has a prominent role in Dispensationalism’s ‘end times’ theory. Endless speculation as to his identity, character, and power, has not only given credence to this doctrine, it has been a huge money-spinner for TV preachers, writers, and film producers.

The emphasis on the near future appearance of Dispensationalism’s ‘The Antichrist’ has struck fear in the hearts of believers and unbelievers alike, and has robbed many of the joy of their salvation, having replaced the victorious message of the Gospel with a pessimistic worldview.

By examining the Title, the Timeline, and the Tyrant, we will understand what the Scriptures clearly teach on this subject.

THE TITLE

‘The Title ‘Antichrist’ and the Epistles of John

Just for the record, it may surprise readers to learn that Dispensationalism’s ‘The Antichrist’ is neither mentioned in John’s Epistles nor in the Book of Revelation. The only references to ‘antichrist’ (there is a difference) are found in the 1st and 2nd Epistles of John.

Since ‘The Antichrist’ is not mentioned in Scripture, where does our source of information come from? It is certainly not from God. To mention a few, outrageous ‘end times’ fiction novels, TV ‘evangelists’, and internet conspiracy theories.

A Quote from Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries

‘Antichrist’ G500 ἀντίχριστος antichristos an-tee’-khris-tos From G473 and G5547; an opponent of the Messiah: – antichrist.

1Jn 2:22 KJV Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.

A characteristic of ‘antichrist’ is the denial of Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.

2Jn 1:7 KJV For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.

The most resolute malefactors who denied Christ’s deity were Judaisers; many infiltrated the early church in an attempt to undermine the teaching of the Apostles by insisting on the inclusion of the Old Covenant Law… Galatians 2:4

1Jn 4:1-3 KJV Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

On examining the context of I John 4:1-3, John is not speaking about a particular man.

’believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world’ John wrote concerning the importance of discerning the spirits of false prophets.

’whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world’ Again, John gave the timeline ‘that it should come’; during his generation.

A Quote from Duncan Mackenzie, The Antichrist Chronicles Vol 2

‘It should be noted that John is mostly focusing on these “antichrists” in his epistles; his discussion of the “Antichrist” is not the primary focus in 1 and 2 John. John’s audience was already aware of the Antichrist (probably from the book of Daniel and Paul’s writing to the Thessalonians). John cites the fact that many antichrists had come as an indication that it was the “last hour” and the Antichrist was about to come. Again, however, John’s discussion in 1 and 2 John is mostly focused on the antichrists from his community not the Antichrist.’

I find it interesting that the only references in the Bible to ‘antichrist’ are found in John’s Epistles. Incredibly, John does not even mention Dispensationalism’s ‘The Antichrist’ in the Book of Revelation! Duncan Mackenzie makes the case for a man called ‘The Antichrist’ in his book, yet admits that John mostly focused on ‘antichrists’ in his Epistles. He continues by assuming John’s audience were ‘probably’ aware of ‘The Antichrist’ from Daniel and Paul.

A few Bible versions introduced, without justification, a capital ‘A’ to antichrist , thereby creating an individual to support their ‘end times’ theory.

How did Dispensationalism compile a doctrine of such magnitude and influence without Scriptural support?

The Title ‘The Man of Sin’ and the Epistles of Paul

2Th 2:3-5 KJV Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

In his second epistle to the Thessalonians, AD 52 (Halley), Paul reminded them that there would be a falling away before the Day of the Lord.

A man who was the ultimate personification of evil was about to be revealed. Paul called him the ‘man of sin’ and ‘son of perdition’, not ‘The Antichrist’.

The ‘man of sin’ was the fulfilment of Daniel’s prophecy and John’s ‘little horn’ in the Book of Revelation.

The Title ‘The Little Horn’ and the Book of Daniel

Belshazzar’s Dream

It was during the first year of the reign of Belshazzar King of Babylon, c 555 BC, that his dream revealed more about the four kingdoms previously described in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.

The Book of Daniel

Dan 7:3-7 KJV And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. 4 The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it. 5 And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. 6 After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it. 7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.

The Book of Revelation

Rev 13:1-2 KJV And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. 2 And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.

Without doubt, John saw Daniel’s Sea Beast; he even revealed its source of power, Satan the dragon.

Daniel and John shared the same timeline of prophetic fulfilment, the Roman Empire.

The Fourth Beast

Special attention was given to the fourth beast, the Roman Empire.

The Ten Horns

‘and it had ten horns’ These were the ten kings, the first ten emperors of the Roman Empire.

The Little Horn

Dan 7:8 KJV I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.

another little horn’ The fourth beast was the Roman Empire; the little horn was Nero Caesar. He was the little horn among them and the sixth of the ten emperors.

‘before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots’ Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, were the three plucked up, all having met untimely deaths before the rule of Nero.

Rev 17:10 KJV And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.

John provided more information when he described seven of the kings. Julius, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, had fallen, ‘Nero is’, followed by Galba.

‘the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space’ Incredibly, Galba only ruled a matter of months. He was the first of the ‘year of the four emperors’ in AD 69, which was a time ‘of wars and rumours of wars’… Matthew 24:6 Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian

Four Emperors ruled in remarkably quick succession, evidence of the turmoil in the Roman Empire leading to AD 70.

The Historian Suetonius’ Chronology of the Emperors

Some scholars claim that the Roman Empire began with Augustus Caesar and not Julius Caesar. Therefore, Julius cannot be included as one of the ten emperors. However, Suetonius specifically included Julius Caesar in his writing, the ‘Twelve Emperors’.

Suetonius c AD 69-AD 122, recorded the early period of the Roman Empire.

He concurred the Roman Empire’s first leaders were Julius, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian.

In 45 BC, Julius Caesar reached the pinnacle of success when named ‘Dictator for Life’.

THE TIMELINE  

The Timeline of Prophetic Fulfilment According to John

1Jn 2:18 KJV 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.

‘it is the last time’ John emphasised on two occasions in this verse that the timeline of ‘antichrists’ was his generation. Thereby, he eliminated the numerous candidates onerously proposed by teachers of Dispensationalism. The profusion of false predictions as to the identity of ‘The Antichrist’ is a constant embarrassment to the Body of Christ.

Mat 24:24-25 KJV For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. 25 Behold, I have told you before.

John recalled the Olivet discourse when he assured the 1st century Church that the appearance of ‘antichrist’ and many ‘antichrists’ was the fulfilment of Jesus’ prophecy. As a consequence, they were living in the ‘last hour’ of the ‘last days’ before Christ’s return. Persecution of believers was about to intensify before the great and terrible Day of the Lord in AD 70, when Christ would return in judgement on Old Covenant Israel.

If John was mistaken about the prophetic timeline of the impending return of Christ, then doubt is cast on the authenticity of the Scriptures. I believe the Holy Spirit inspired John when he wrote his Epistles.

The Timeline of Prophetic Fulfilment According to Paul

1Th 5:2-4 KJV For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.

Paul encouraged believers by assuring them he had taught and prepared them for the Day of the Lord. This presents Dispensationalism with a dilemma. If the ‘rapture theory’ were correct there would have been no need for Paul to prepare the Thessalonians for the Day of The Lord, after all, the ‘rapture’ is purportedly seven years before the Day of the Lord.

2Th 2:7-8 KJV For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:

Paul revealed that the ‘mystery of iniquity’ was already at work in their midst.

‘until he be taken out of the way’ Dispensationalism teaches that the Holy Spirit is the restrainer. Apparently, the Holy Spirit will be removed with the Church at the ‘rapture’, allowing ‘The Antichrist’ to take control. Those left behind may still be saved by refusing the mark of the beast during the great tribulation, but how is it possible to be ‘born again’ without the Holy Spirit?

In my opinion, Paul alluded to the assassination of Emperor Claudius, the restraining influence until his murder in AD 54; arranged by Agrippina his wife and mother of Nero.

A Quote from Expositors Bible Commentary

2 Thessalonians 2:7 ‘…The apostasy was to take place among the Jews; and the Apostle saw that Rome and its Emperor were the grand restraint upon the violence of that stubborn race. The Jews had been his worst enemies, ever since he had embraced the cause of the Nazarene Messiah Jesus; and all that time the Romans had been his best friends. If injustice had been done him in their name, as at Philippi, atonement had been made; and, on the whole, he had owed to them his protection against Jewish persecution. He felt sure that his own experience was typical; the final development of hatred to God and all that was on God’s side could not but be restrained so long as the power of Rome stood firm. That power was a sufficient check upon anarchic violence. While it held its ground, the powers of evil could not organise themselves and work openly; they constituted a mystery of iniquity, working, as it were, underground. But when this great restraint was removed, all that had been labouring so long in secret would come suddenly to view, in its full dimensions; the lawless one would stand revealed.’

Nero’s reign seemed promising and peaceful during the first five years, the quinquennium, however, in due course the depth of his depravity was revealed.

1Ti 4:1 KJV Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

A Quote from Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary

1Timothy 4:1 ‘in the latter times — in the times following upon the times in which he is now writing. Not some remote future, but times immediately subsequent, the beginnings of the apostasy being already discernible (Act 20:29): these are the forerunners of “the last days” (2Ti 3:1).

2Ti 3:1 KJV This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

A Quote from Thayer’s Greek Definitions

‘shall come’ G1764 ἐνίστημι enistēmi 1) to place in or among, to put in 2) to be upon, impend, threaten 3) close at hand 4) present

‘This know also’ If the last days were thousands of years in the future and not during Timothy’s lifetime, why did Paul feel it important to warn him about perilous times?

1Co 10:11 YLT And all these things as types did happen to those persons, and they were written for our admonition, to whom the end of the ages did come,

Paul told the Corinthians that the Scriptures were written that they might learn from the mistakes of their predecessors, because ‘the end of the ages did come’ in their lifetime; he was not writing to Christians 2000 years in the future.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

1 Corinthians 10:11 “Thus, therefore,” says Dr. Lightfoot, “the apostle speaks in this place that those things, which were transacted in the beginning of the Jewish ages, are written for an example to you upon whom the ends of those ages are come; and the beginning is like to the end, and the end to the beginning. Both were forty years; both consisted of temptation and unbelief; and both ended in the destruction of the unbelievers – that, in the destruction of those who perished in the wilderness; this, in the destruction of those that believed not: viz. the destruction of their city and nation.”

If Paul was wrong about the prophetic timeline of the impending return of Christ, then doubt is cast on the authenticity of the Scriptures.

The Four Kingdoms Before the Arrival of the Kingdom of God

Babylonian Empire… 606-536 BC… The head of gold

Persian Empire… 536-332 BC… The breast and arms of silver

Greek Empire with Four Divisions… 331-146 BC… The belly and thighs of brass

Roman Empire… 146 BC-AD 476 (the West) AD 610 (the East)… The legs of iron and feet part iron and part clay

The Timeline of Prophetic Fulfilment According to Daniel

Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream

King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon became co-regent with his father Nabopolassar in 606 BC and sole ruler in 604 BC, his dream occurred two years later.

Daniel’s Interpretation of the King’s Dream

Dan 2:31-33 KJV Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible. 32 This image’s head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass, 33 His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.

The Timeline and the Kingdom of God: AD 70-Everlasting

Dan 2:34-35 KJV Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. 35 Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.

‘the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth’ The Kingdom of God was that stone.

‘The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord’ Although the Roman Empire continued to exist, it was subordinate to the Kingdom of God, which now rules the kingdoms of the world.

Dan 2:44 KJV And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.

‘in the days of these kings’ Dispensationalism is compelled to promulgate the future revival of the Roman Empire to authenticate its teaching, but the Scriptures clearly declare the timeline of prophetic fulfilment was during ‘the days of these kings’!

The Diaspora

Mat 8:12 KJV But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The Jews constantly rebelled against Roman subjugation. Hence, the Roman/Jewish war resulted in the destruction, and the dispersion of Old Covenant Israel. The reconstruction of Herod’s temple was completed in AD 63, but it remained for only seven years. The prophecy of Jesus was fulfilled exactly within the prophetic timeline He predicted.

Mat 21:3 KJV Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

The prophetic timeline of the arrival of the Kingdom of God was during the Roman Empire. It was at that time the New Covenant Age was fully established.

If Daniel’s prophetic timeline of the ‘Sea Beast’ failed, having been collaborated by John’s Book of Revelation and the writings of Paul, then doubt is cast on the authenticity of the Scriptures.

Prophetic Harmony

The Book of Daniel

Dan 7:27 KJV And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.

The Book of Revelation

Rev 11:15 KJV And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.

THE TYRANT

The Tyrant Nero Caesar AD 37-AD 68

The Saviour of the World

Nero added ‘The Saviour of the World’ to Roman coinage and claimed to be deity; he was one of ‘many antichrists’. He gave a mark to all who obeyed his command to declare ‘Caesar is Lord’. Those who submitted were given a libellus, which allowed them to trade and buy necessities. By contrast, the Christians who confessed ‘Christ is Lord’ and refused to worship Nero suffered the most horrendous persecution and martyrdom.

Poppaea (AD 30-AD 65) Nero’s Second Wife

The Jewish representatives in Rome may have used Poppaea, a Jewish convert, to incite Nero to blame and persecute Christians for the burning of Rome. Thereby, the heat was taken of him (pardon the pun), the real perpetrator of the fire.

A Quote from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

‘This was a period when the city of Rome and the court of the Caesars swarmed with Asiatics, many of whom were Jews, and many of them would be in slavery, or in employment, in the imperial court. It cannot be forgotten that Poppea, Nero’s shameless consort, was a proselyte to Judaism and that she continued to advocate successfully the cause of the Jews before the emperor as occasion arose.’

Nero was responsible for the death of Poppaea in AD 65, kicking her during a fit of temper; she was pregnant at the time!

Persecution of Christians AD 64-AD 68

Nero relished the opportunity to vent his satanic zeal on Christians. History has recorded his numerous atrocities.

To name a few, Christians were wrapped in animal skins and torn to pieces by wild dogs. Alternatively, many were crucified and used as human torches to light Nero’s garden during evenings of debauchery.

The Tyrant and the Temple of God

He as God Sitteth in the Temple of God

2Th 2:4 KJV Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

Many scholars contend that Nero was not ‘the man of sin’ because he didn’t physically sit in the temple at Jerusalem. However, this objection does not withstand examination.

Paul Referred to the Church as the Temple of God

Rev 13:6-7 KJV And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. 7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.

Some believe Paul referred to the Church; he called it the temple of God on five occasions in his Epistles.

‘to make war with the saints’ Nero made war on the Church and commanded the death penalty for any believer who refused to deny Christ as Lord and worship him instead.

A Quote from the Pulpit Commentary

2 Thessalonians 2:4 ‘But it appears more correct to refer the expression metaphorically to the Christian Church. It is a favourite metaphor of Paul to compare believers in particular, or the Church in general, to the temple of God. Showing—exhibiting—himself that he is God. His sitting in the temple of God was an assertion of his divinity; he claimed to be regarded and worshipped as God. This was the crowning act of his impiety; not only, like the Roman emperors, he demanded to be worshipped as one of many gods, but he claimed to himself the prerogative of the Godhead, not only to the exclusion of the false gods of heathenism, but even of the tree God.’

Additionally, the following is worthy of consideration:

Paul Spoke Figuratively About Sitting in the Temple of God

Paul chose the Greek ‘kathizō’ for ‘sitteth’ in the temple. It is interesting that Strong emphasised the figurative use of ‘kathizō’ in his definition.

A Quote from Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries

‘sitteth’ Strong’s G2523 καθίζω kathizō kath-id’-zo Another (active) form for G2516; to seat down, that is, set (figuratively appoint); intransitively to sit (down); figuratively to settle (hover, dwell): – continue, set, sit (down), tarry.

In the Scriptures, other men of evil reputation who were foreshadows of the ‘man of sin’ attempted to ‘sit in the seat of God’, figuratively speaking.

Isa 14:13-14 KJV For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

‘I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation’ Isaiah’s proverb described Nebuchadnezzar’s ambition to figuratively sit in God’s place.

Eze 28:2 KJV Son of man, say unto the prince of Tyrus, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a God, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet thou art a man, and not God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God:

‘I sit in the seat of God’ The prince of Tyre also aspired to sit in the seat of God, again figuratively speaking.

The Tyrant and the Mark of the Beast 666/616

The Mark of the Beast

Rev 13:18 KJV Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.

A lot has already been written online about the gematria of 666/616; it is a constant source of dissension.

I believe Nero Caesar was the ‘man of sin’ referred to by John’s 666, my view is not based solely on his number. The analysis of the Title, the Timeline, and the Tyrant, reveals the harmony of the Scriptures in the writings of Daniel, Paul, and John.

Conclusion

The Roman Empire Under New Management

The Roman Empire (the Sea Beast) recovered from the death throes of civil war caused by Nero’s death, AD 68-AD 69. The Empire ‘resurrected’ to former glory by Vespasian, commenced the Flavian dynasty.

Vespasian was the tenth horn of the Sea Beast; he resumed Nero’s war with the rebellious Land Beast (Old Covenant Israel). His son Titus eventually entered Jerusalem and destroyed the temple, Jerusalem, and dispersed the nation In AD 70.

The remnant of believers was delivered from judgement, Old Covenant Israel passed away, and the New Covenant was fully established.

Who is the next candidate for the vacancy of Dispensationalism’s ‘The Antichrist’?

Or should the question really be who was the ‘man of sin’ and ‘son of perdition’? In my opinion, Nero Caesar.

What do you think?

 

Jesus Never Mentioned Double Fulfilment of Prophecy

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The Pilgrims of Emmaus on the Road, James Tissot (1836-1902) Source: Brooklyn Museum

Introduction

After considerable research and deliberation, my conclusion is there is no scriptural support for the ‘Law of Double Fulfilment of Prophecy’, as promulgated by Dispensationalism.

This misconception demands a second (or more) fulfilment of certain prophecy concerning the ‘end times’ and Christ’s return.

A major obstacle arises while attempting to catapult into the 21st century, so-called ‘unfulfilled’ Messianic prophecy contained in the Old and New Testaments. The ‘Law of Double Fulfillment of Prophecy’ was created to overcome this difficulty.

I will attempt to prove why I believe Jesus fulfilled all the Law and the Prophets during the lifetime of His generation, and why double fulfilment of prophecy is a misrepresentation of Scripture.

Has Interpretation of Scripture Really Become a Science?

A Quote from David L Cooper’s ‘The Science of Interpreting the Scriptures’

The Statement of the Law

‘The law of double reference is based upon one of the fundamental laws of psychology: the principle of the association of similar or related ideas. Similarities always suggest comparisons. Thus the prophets constantly depicted that which was as a rule in the immediate future or present. Since history repeats itself, as all admit, the prophets looked out into the future and saw similar situations arising like those which were confronting them or immediately in the future. Thus the transition from describing that which was immediately before them to that which was in the remote future was very easy, normal, and natural.’

‘The law of double reference is based upon one of the fundamental laws of psychology’ Is it necessary to study psychology to interpret the Scriptures, or to determine which prophecies have double fulfilment?

‘Since history repeats itself, as all admit’ David L Cooper assumed that all agree history repeats itself, but is that an accurate statement. It’s true there have been similar events in the past, but not to the extent suggested by the author. For example, God in His infinite wisdom permitted empires to rise, and He caused empires to fall. Nevertheless, these empires were never identical in rise and fall; therefore, history does not repeat itself.

History does not repeat itself, but history reveals that ‘man’ repeats mistakes.

Jesus is our Prophet

Deu 18:18 KJV I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.

Joh 12:49-50 KJV For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.

‘and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him’ Jesus is the fulfilment of Deuteronomy 18:18, and the perfect example of the ministry of prophet. He spoke the mind of God and His prophecies are unequivocal. It is a serious matter to tamper with the words spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ.

God is not the author of confusion!

‘The consequences of admitting such a principle should be well weighed. What book on earth has a double sense, unless it is a book of designed enigmas, And even this has but one real meaning. By what laws of interpretation is it to be judged? By none that belong to human language; for other books than the Bible have not a double sense -attached to them.’ — Canon Ryle on Double Fulfilment

The Complexity of Double Fulfilment of Prophecy

The following is a list of phrases I discovered during my research, to name but a few:

The Law of Double Fulfilment
The Phenomenon of Double Fulfilment
The Principle of Double Fulfilment
Telescopic Prophecy
Bifocal Prophecy
Generic Prophecy
Gap Prophecy
Unforeseen Partial Prophecy
Dispensationalism’s Existence Depends on Double Fulfilment of Prophecy

Prophecies with a past ‘spiritual’ fulfilment don’t comply with Dispensationalism’s literal ‘end times’ theory, for example, Malachi 4:5. Hence, a future, literal fulfilment is mandatory. In my opinion, it was for this reason the ‘Law of Double Fulfilment of Prophecy’ was introduced.

Mal 4:5 KJV Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:

(My article ‘Elijah the Prophet will not Return’ explains my understanding of Malachi 4.)

Leading futurist scholars created their own ‘law’ in an attempt to add a sense of authenticity to their ‘end times’ view. What authority endorsed this law? None, Dispensationalism is simply a law unto itself!

‘Far be it from us to make God speak with two tongues, or to attach a variety of senses to His Word, in which we ought rather to behold the simplicity of its divine author reflected as in a clear mirror (Ps. xii. 6 ; xix. 8.) Only one meaning of Scripture, therefore, is admissible: that is, the grammatical, in whatever terms, whether proper or tropical and figurative, it may be expressed.’ — Samuel Des Marets, in Latin Maresius (1599-1673) French Protestant Theologian

Why Did Jesus Never Mention Double Fulfilment of Prophecy?

Personally, I believe there was no need! Jesus fulfilled all prophecy during the lifetime of His generation.

Christ Came to Fulfil the Law and the Prophets

Mat 5:17 KJV Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

‘I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil’ If Jesus came to fulfil the Law and the Prophets, did He fail to accomplish what He set out to do. Of course He didn’t fail!

Yet many today believe Jesus only fulfilled prophecy concerning His first coming and all appertaining to His return is still unfulfilled, even although 2000 years have passed. However, Jesus did not predict or teach a parenthesis of 2000 years; therefore, double fulfilment was never an issue.

Heaven and Earth Shall Pass Away

Luk 21:32-33 KJV Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. 33 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.

Psa 104:5 KJV Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.

The Lord declared on more than one occasion the earth shall not be removed… Psalm 93:1; Ecclesiastes 1:4

‘Heaven and earth shall pass away’ Did Jesus therefore contradict the Scriptures? If He referred to this physical heaven and earth, then yes He did.

So what did Jesus mean? He referred to the passing of the Old Covenant, with the destruction of the temple, Jerusalem, and the Diaspora in AD 70.

The ‘heaven and earth’ that passed away during Christ’s generation was the Jewish polity, Old Covenant Israel. All the promises of God to Old Covenant Israel necessitated fulfilment before the Old Covenant Age ended.

Mat 5:18 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.

till all be fulfilled’ Logically speaking, if Jesus was referring to physical ‘heaven and earth’, which has not passed away, then the Old Covenant Law and the Offerings should still be in effect today. Obviously, this is not the case, the offerings ceased with the destruction of the temple and Christ ended the Old Covenant Age at His returned in judgement.

Mat 24:34-35 KJV Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. 35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

The fulfilment timeline was before Christ’s generation passed away.

A Quote from James Stuart Russell’s ‘The Parousia’

‘Are we to look for double, triple, and multiple meanings, for prophecies within prophecies, and mysteries wrapt in mysteries, where we might reasonably have expected a plain answer to a plain question? Can any one be sure of understanding the Scriptures if they are thus enigmatical and obscure? Is this the manner in which the Saviour taught His disciples, leaving them to grope their way through intricate labyrinths, irresistibly suggestive of the Ptolemaic astronomy – ‘Cycle and epicycle, orb in orb’? Surely so ambiguous and obscure a revelation can hardly be called a revelation at all, and seems far more befitting a Delphic Oracle, or a Cumaean Sibyl than the teaching of Him whom. the common people heard gladly.’
Do you believe in double fulfilment of prophecy?

The Road to Emmaus

The two despondent disciples on the road to Emmaus were traumatised and confused, even although there had been reports of Christ’s resurrection. The crucifixion had dashed their hopes.

When Jesus joined them, did He only expound the Scriptures concerning His first advent, or did He include all the Scriptures concerning Him? He expounded all the Scriptures!

Luk 24:27 KJV And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

‘Moses and all the prophets’ Luke included ‘all’ the prophets!

‘in all the scriptures the things concerning himself’ Jesus taught from ‘all’ the Scriptures!

Luk 24:44 KJV And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.

‘the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me’ Once again, Luke unambiguously emphasised the importance of the fulfilment of all Scripture concerning Christ.

It is cause for concern to espouse the double fulfilment theory, since it contradicts the clear and concise words of the Lord.

Luk 24:21KJV But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.

The disciples had two major issues on their minds, the redemption of Israel and the crucifixion. Consequently, I believe Jesus also taught the events leading to His imminent return and the great plan of redemption.

A Quote from John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

Luke 24:21 ‘that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel; they thought, hoped, and believed, that he was the Messiah, spoken of under the character of the Redeemer of Israel; and they had been in expectation of redemption by him, though only of a temporal kind, from the Roman yoke and bondage; but now they could not tell what to think of it, since he was dead; indeed they were not altogether without hope, since there was a report of his being raised from the dead; but what credit was to be given to that, they could not say: but certain it is, that he was the true Messiah, and promised Redeemer; and who was to redeem, and has redeemed the whole Israel of God; even all the elect of God, whether among Jews or Gentiles, from the servitude and damning power of sin, from the slavery of Satan, and the bondage of the law, and from every enemy; and that by his precious blood, his sufferings and death, the very things which were the occasion of these disciples’ doubts about him, as the Redeemer:…’

Luk 24:32 KJV And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?

Jesus came alongside them, just as He does in times of trouble today, and before He left them their hearts did burn within. Now that’s my type of heartburn!

Would their hearts have continued to burn if Jesus had taught the psychology of interpreting Scripture, or the Law of Double Fulfilment of Prophecy?

I dread to think what their reaction might have been if Jesus ended his discourse by adding “By the way lads, when I said things like ‘at hand’, ‘this generation’, and ‘the hour cometh, and now is’, I meant in a couple of thousand years”. The shock would certainly have cured their heartburn!

‘Dr. Owen’s remark is full of good sense-” If the Scripture has more than one meaning, it has no meaning at all: “and it is just as applicable to the prophecies as to any other portion of Scripture.’ (Sufferings and Glories of the Messiah, p. 5, note.)  — John Brown, Double Fulfilment

Why Did Paul Never Mentioned Double Fulfilment of Prophecy?

Paul elaborated on the theme of Old Covenant ‘types and shadows’ not double fulfilment of prophecy. He taught that Christ was the ultimate fulfilment of the Old Testament Law and the Prophets. The New Testament confirms Christ is the anti­type, the reality, and the absolute fulfilment of prophecy.

Conclusion

Dispensationalism’s Dilemma

The Scriptures consist of the Old and New Testaments, the inspired Word of God.

The New Testament is the key to understanding the fulfilment of Old Testament Law and the Prophets, and the types and shadows.

What other authority or testament can we now rely on as the key to understanding the fulfilment of so-called unfulfilled prophecy? There is none!

It’s for that reason I believe Dispensationalism has brought embarrassment and loss of credibility to Christendom. The infatuation with empirical evidence has become the norm and is a poor substitute for scriptural authority.

Newspaper headlines, world events, ’end times’ fiction, date setting, and personal interpretation of prophecy by TV preachers, nurture the insatiable appetite for sensationalism.

A Quote from James Stuart Russell’s ‘The Parousia’

‘There is not a scintilla of evidence that the apostles and primitive Christians had any suspicion of a twofold reference in the predictions of Jesus concerning the end.’

Jesus fulfilled all prophecy concerning Him; therefore, Dispensationalism’s ‘Law of Double Fulfilment of Prophecy’ is superfluous.

What do you think?

 

Daniel’s ’70 Weeks’ Prophecy was Fulfilled by AD 70

IMG_3751

The Prophet Daniel, Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564)
Source: Art and the Bible

Introduction

A series on eschatology would be incomplete without Daniel’s ’70 Weeks’ Prophecy.

I will endeavour to explain why Daniel’s prophecy is the most fascinating and controversial in the Old Testament, and why I believe its fulfilment was AD 70.

Psalm 137:1-4

Psa 137:1-4 KJV By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. 2 We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. 3 For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. 4 How shall we sing the LORD’S song in a strange land?

Till there was no Remedy

2Ch 36:14-16 KJV Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the LORD which he had hallowed in Jerusalem. 15 And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place: 16 But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy.

The Reasons for the 70 Years of Babylonian Captivity

The kingdom of Judah had forsaken the Lord; their transgressions had degenerated to such an extent ‘till there was no remedy’. Not only had they maltreated the prophets, they neglected their stewardship of the land.

Lev 25:4 KJV But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the LORD: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard.

To continue in the blessing of the Lord the Children of Israel had to obey the Old Covenant Law, which included allowing the land to rest for a year every seventh year.

2Ch 36:21 KJV To fulfil the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years.

On at least 70 occasions, Old Covenant Israel worked the land on the Sabbath year with total disregard for the Law. The 70 years of Babylonian captivity was the result of their disobedience.

A Quote from John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

2 Chronicles 36:21 ‘Sabbaths – …Many a time had they ploughed and sowed their land in the seventh year, when it should have rested: and now it lay unploughed and unsown for ten times seven years. Yet even this might encourage them to hope, that they should in due time return to it again. Had others come and taken possession of it, they might have despaired of ever recovering it. But while it lay desolate, it, as it were, waited for them, and refused to acknowledge any other owners.’

2 Chronicles 36:21 ‘Until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths – Between the time of Moses and the commencement of the captivity, there had been (about) 70 occasions on which the Law of the sabbatical year had been violated…Leviticus 25:4-7.’  — Albert Barnes, Notes on the Bible

The Return from the Babylonian Captivity

Isa 44:28 KJV That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.

Isaiah prophesied during 745-695 BC and proclaimed that a man by the name of Cyrus would allow the Jews to return to their land.

This prophecy was approximately 150 years before Cyrus ascended to the throne.

Jer 25:11-12 KJV And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. 12 And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.

Jer 29:10 KJV For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.

Jeremiah lived approximately 100 years after Isaiah and prophesied from 626 BC, he predicted the captivity would last for 70 years. The destruction of Jerusalem took place during 606-586 BC and the first decree to return was in 536 BC.

Daniel’s ’70 Weeks Prophecy’

Dan 9:22 KJV And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.

Daniel sought the Lord on behalf of his people and the angel Gabriel explained what the future held for them.

Dan 9:24 KJV Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

The 70 weeks was literally 70 sevens, generally understood to mean 490 years. The captivity had been 70 years, the period between the return from captivity and the time of the Messiah would be 70 times seven… Leviticus 26:18

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Daniel 9:24 ‘Gabriel shows him that there are seventy weeks determined relative to a redemption from another sort of captivity, which shall commence with the going forth of the edict to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, and shall terminate with the death of Messiah the Prince, and the total abolition of the Jewish sacrifices…….Seventy weeks are determined -The Jews had Sabbatic years, Lev 25:8, by which their years were divided into weeks of years, as in this important prophecy, each week containing seven years. The seventy weeks therefore here spoken of amount to four hundred and ninety years…’

The Commission of the Messiah… Daniel 9:24

Jesus the Saviour Dealt With Sin

‘to finish the transgression’ The seventy years exile was punishment, but not full atonement for the sin of the people. Only the Messiah could pay that debt.

‘to make an end of sins’  Perhaps a reference to sin-offerings, Jesus accomplished this when He offered Himself on the cross.

‘to make reconciliation for iniquity’ Through His suffering and death the Law of God was fully satisfied and the sinner reconciled.

‘to bring in everlasting righteousness’ Christ brought everlasting righteousness whereby the saints of all the ages would be justified by faith.

Jesus the King is on His Throne

‘to seal up the vision and prophecy’ Christ fulfilled all prophecy.

‘to anoint the most Holy’ Christ was consecrated Prophet, Priest, and King.

The Messiah accomplished all required of Him by AD 70.

The Prince

Dan 10:14 KJV Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days.

Dan 9:25-27 KJV Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. 26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. 27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

‘Messiah the Prince’ In the KJV, it is interesting to note that the word ‘Prince’ in Daniel 9:25, which is emphasised by a capital ‘P’, is the same Hebrew word ‘nagid’ used in Daniel 9:26, but with a lowercase ‘p’.

Dispensationalism takes this opportunity to propose that the ‘inferior’ prince is the future ‘antichrist’. However, the KJV 1611 has a capital ‘P’ on both occasions, and in Young’s Literal Translation ‘Prince’ is translated ‘Leader’ with a capital ‘L’ on both occasions.

In my opinion, ‘the Prince’ in both verses referred to the Messiah, there was no justification for the substitution of a lower case ‘p’ in Daniel 9:26.

Numerous commentators agree the timeline was AD 70, although some believe ‘the prince’ was Titus.

A Quote from gotquestions.org

Daniel 9:26 ‘The people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.’ This speaks of the Roman Empire destroying Jerusalem and the temple, which occurred in A.D. 70. It should be noted that the prince was yet to come; only the people of the prince were the ones who destroyed Jerusalem. This also tells us that the antichrist/beast will come from a future revived Roman Empire.’

There was a time when I would have accepted this answer. However, I never cease to be amazed at my naivety. ‘Got Questions’ dissected this verse and inserted a 2000 years gap without explanation or scriptural support.

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown provides a balanced view of the text:

A Quote from Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary

Daniel 9:26 ‘the people of the prince — the Romans, led by Titus, the representative of the world power, ultimately to be transferred to Messiah, and so called by Messiah’s title, “the Prince”; as also because sent by Him, as His instrument of judgment (Matt 22:7).’

‘The people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary’ The Messiah the Prince used the Roman Army commanded by Titus to carry out His judgement upon Jerusalem at His parousia. On certain occasions, the Lord used Gentile nations to fulfil His ‘Day of the Lord’ prophecies, for example:

Isa 13:10 KJV 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 prophesied God’s judgement on Babylon and described it metaphorically… Isaiah 13:10-16

Isa 13:17 KJV Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it.

He then explained how God would perform it ‘I will stir up the Medes against them’… Isaiah 13:17

The Fulfilment of Daniel’s ’70 Weeks Prophecy’

There were three decrees issued by the Persian kings, 536 BC, 457 BC, and 444 BC. Many scholars contend that the principle one was 457 BC.

The first 49 years (seven weeks) added to 457 BC equates to 408 BC when the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt.

The next 434 years (62 Weeks) added to 408 BC, brings the timeline to AD 26 when Jesus began His public ministry.

The final 7 years (one Week) added to AD 26, corresponds to AD 33.

Some scholars teach that the prophecy ended in AD 33 when the Gospel was extended to the Gentiles, and that does have merit.

In my opinion, Christ’s ministry ended at the cross half way through, and the final three and a half years of the 70th week was the duration of the Jewish/Roman war from AD 66 to AD 70. My premise is that Daniel’s prophecy included the dispersion of the Jews in AD 70.

Christ reigned from heaven over Old Covenant Israel during the intervening 40 years, the transition period from the Old Covenant to the New. Subsequently, the elect was gathered and delivered from judgement prior to the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem.

It is interesting that Old Covenant Israel began with 40 years in the wilderness, while that unbelieving generation passed away, and ended with Christ reigning with a rod of iron for 40 years, until His unbelieving generation passed away.

Act 2:33-37 KJV Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. 34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool. 36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. 37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Acts 2:36 ‘Both Lord and Christ – Not only the Messiah, but the supreme Governor of all things and all persons, Jews and Gentiles, angels and men. In the preceding discourse, Peter assumes a fact which none would attempt to deny, viz. that Jesus had been lately crucified by them. He then,
1. Proves his resurrection.
2. His ascension.
3. His exaltation to the right hand of God.
4. The effusion of the Holy Spirit, which was the fruit of his glorification, and which had not only been promised by himself, but foretold by their own prophets: in consequence of which,
5. It was indisputably proved that this same Jesus, whom they had crucified, was the promised Messiah; and if so,
6. The Governor of the universe, from whose power and justice they had every thing to dread, as they refused to receive his proffered mercy and kindness.’

Conclusion

All was fulfilled by AD 70, and Daniel’s ‘70 Weeks Prophecy’ was consigned to history! Jesus kept His promises, just as He said He would.

Luk 21:32 KJV Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.

What do you think?

 

 

Jesus Never Mentioned a Physical Rapture of the Church

IMG_3701St Paul Preaching to the Thessalonians, Gustave Dore (1832-1883) Source: The Doré Bible Gallery Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D.

Introduction

In 1830, Margaret MacDonald from Port Glasgow, Scotland, prophesied the Church should not fear the great tribulation because the ‘rapture’ would take place prior to it. This prophecy became world-renowned, taken up (pardon the pun) by Edward Irving and endorsed by J N Darby of the Plymouth Brethren.

The doctrine demands two-second comings, the secret rapture of the Church, followed by Christ’s return seven years later. C I Scofield promulgated this theory by including notes in his ‘Scofield Bible’.

Jesus explained to the disciples the events leading to His return. Howbeit, He never mentioned a physical rapture of the Church seven years before the ‘day of the Lord’.

The Church never taught the rapture theory until the 19th century.

Paul’s Letters to the Thessalonians

The purpose of Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians was to confirm what he had previously taught them concerning the ‘end times’… 2 Thessalonians 2:5

A Quote from Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary

1 Thessalonians 4:13 ‘The leading topic of Paul’s preaching at Thessalonica having been the coming kingdom (Act_17:7), some perverted it into a cause for fear in respect to friends lately deceased, as if these would be excluded from the glory which those found alive alone should share. This error Paul here corrects (compare 1Th_5:10)…….’

1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 and the ‘Word of the Lord’

1Th 4:14-17 KJV For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up (harpazo) together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

This particular portion of Scripture is Dispensationalism’s ‘candy stick’ and used to support Margaret MacDonald’s ‘rapture’ prophecy. Nevertheless, the rapture doctrine necessitates a two-stage second coming of Christ not found in the Scriptures.

What exactly was ‘the word of the Lord’ to the Thessalonians?

Paul said he was speaking ‘by the word of the Lord’ like the phrase used by the Old Testament Prophets ‘thus saith the Lord’, meaning by direct revelation.

False teachers had caused doubt in the hearts of believers by proclaiming those who had recently died would miss the glorious return of the Lord. The Lord reassured the Thessalonians ‘the dead in Christ shall rise first’.

‘we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord’ The Thessalonians clearly understood their generation would witness Christ’s return.

caught up’ This phrase was translated from the Greek word ‘harpazo’, more on this later.

If Paul received additional revelation from the Lord regarding His return, surely it would not contradict what He told the disciples in Matthew 24.

Paul did not reveal a new two-stage return; on the contrary, he alluded to Matthew 24:31.

Mat 24:31 KJV 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.

‘they shall gather together his elect’ Jesus never taught rapture as described by Dispensationalism, but He did teach the gathering together of His elect.

1 Thessalonians 5:2-6 and the ‘Day of the Lord’

Can we learn from Scripture what the Church in Thessalonica actually believed regarding the events surrounding the return of the Lord? It may come as a surprise to some, but yes, we can.

1Th 5:2-6 KJV For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.

A careful study of these verses will show that Paul had only one day and one single event in mind, the ‘day of the Lord’.

‘let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober’ If the Church was to be ‘rapture ready’ at the beginning of the seven years great tribulation before the ‘day of the Lord’, the second coming of Christ, why did Paul encourage the saints to be diligent and not to sleep, if they were not going to be around for the ‘day of the Lord’.

2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 and the ‘Day of the Lord’

2Th 2:1 YLT And we ask you, brethren, in regard to the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of our gathering together unto him,

‘our gathering together unto him’ Once again, Paul alluded to Matthew 24:31.

2Th 2:2-3 YLT that ye be not quickly shaken in mind, nor be troubled, neither through spirit, neither through word, neither through letters as through us, as that the day of Christ hath arrived; 3 let not any one deceive you in any manner, because—if the falling away may not come first, and the man of sin be revealed—the son of the destruction,

False teachers had convinced some believers that the ‘Day of the Lord’ had already taken place, but how could that have happened if Paul had taught them the popular 21st century ‘end times’ concept:

The physical rapture

The physical resurrection with open graves

Jesus physically descending on a cloud with the sound of the trumpet

Every eye beholding the physical and visible return of Jesus

Destruction on a cosmic level

All they had to do was look around, everything continued as before!

If a physical rapture had taken place, surely they would have noticed the disappearance of at least some believers. Not to mention the event was supposed to have happened seven years earlier.

Paul did not correct their understanding of the spiritual manner of the second coming of Christ; rather, he built on their knowledge and only corrected the timing issue… 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4

Therefore their concept of the ‘day of the Lord’ and the spiritual manner of the coming of the Lord must have been the correct one.

Paul’s Letters to the Corinthians

1 Corinthians 15:50-52 and ‘We Shall Be Changed’

1Co 15:50-52 KJV Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

During Paul’s exposition on the resurrection, he told the Corinthian Church ‘but we shall all be changed’ he did not say we shall all be physically ‘raptured’, nor did he mention a two-stage return.

2 Corinthians 12:1-4 and Paul’s ‘Harpazo’ Rapture

2Co 12:1-4 KJV It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up (harpazo) to the third heaven. 3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) 4 How that he was caught up (harpazo) into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

‘caught up’ This was not a physical but a spiritual ascent; God took Paul into the realm of ‘the third heaven’.

Paul used the same Greek word ‘harpazo’ translated ‘caught up’ as he did in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. In my opinion, his physical body did not leave the ground.

Paul’s spiritual ‘harpazo’ may shed light on the experience of the saints who were alive and remained at Christ’s Parousia … 1 Corinthians 15:52

The Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 24:30-31 and the ‘Imminent Return of Christ’

Mat 24:30-31 KJV 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. 31 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.

Mat 8:11-12 KJV And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The gathering of His elect was to take place concurrently as the children of the kingdom (Old Covenant Israel) were to be cast out. This took place at the destruction of the temple, Jerusalem, and the dispersion of the Jews in AD 70.

Mat 3:9 KJV And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

The Jews thought they had a natural right to the privileges of the Kingdom because they were Abraham’s descendants, but natural birth did not bring spiritual sonship.

Matthew 24:16 and ‘Flee into the Mountains’

Mat 24:16 KJV Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:

Again, Jesus did not teach a physical rapture. On the contrary, He told the disciples to ‘flee into the mountains’.

Believers in Jerusalem subsequently fled to Pella prior to the city’s destruction in AD 70. Pella was the site of one of Christianity’s earliest churches.

According to Eusebius of Caesarea it was a refuge for Christians fleeing from Jerusalem during the Roman/Jewish war.

The Trump of God

Rev 11:15 KJV And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.

1Co 15:52 KJV In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

The Scriptures we have considered so far, and in particular 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17; 1 Corinthians 15:52; Matthew 24:31; and Revelation 11:15 have a common denominator; ‘the Trump of God’.

If there is to be a two-stage return with a seven-year gap in between, how can there be two last trumps? There can only be one ‘last trump’!

If we allow Scripture to interpret Scripture we will find that Christ’s return was a single and glorious one.

Only one last trumpet is mentioned in these Scriptures, Matthew 24 placed the sounding of that trumpet at the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, before that generation passed away… Matthew 24:31-34

‘The Hour of the Trial’

Dispensationalism teaches, although the ‘rapture’ is never mentioned in the Scriptures, it is between Revelation chapters 3 and 4!

Compare King James Version vs Young’s Literal Translation:

Rev 3:10 KJV Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

Rev 3:10 YLT `Because thou didst keep the word of my endurance, I also will keep thee from the hour of the trial that is about to come upon all the world, to try those dwelling upon the earth.

This verse is taken out of context to endorse the theory the Church was promised a physical removal from the world prior to the great tribulation. The letter was addressed specifically to the Church at Philadelphia in Asia Minor during the 1st century.

The King James Version of the phrase ‘which shall come upon all the world’ should read ‘that is about to come upon all the world’ according to Young’s Literal Translation, this verse contains the Greek ‘mello’, which means ‘about to’.

It is interesting to note, ‘all the world’ is the Greek word ‘oikoumene’ meaning the Roman Empire, and ‘upon the earth’ is the Greek word ‘ge’ meaning region or land.

The time indicator renders impossible the idea that the promise was to saints 2000 years in the future.

Chronological Periods

Rev 1:20 KJV The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.

C I Scofield, Clarence Larkin, and other writers of Dispensationalism, held the view that the seven churches in Revelation 2-3 represent seven consecutive chronological periods in Church history.

If true, then why is the so-called ‘rapture’ passage in the sixth Philadelphia period and not the seventh and last period?

‘Come up hither’

Rev 4:1-2 KJV 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 shew thee things which must be hereafter. 2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.

John was told to ‘Come up hither’, he didn’t bodily go to Heaven but ‘in the Spirit’.

Although Dispensationalism teaches this Scripture supports the rapture theory, one of their leading proponents John F Walfoord was not convinced.

‘The invitation to John to ‘come up hither’ is so similar to that which the Church anticipates at the Rapture that many have connected the two expressions. It is clear from the context that this is not an explicit reference to the rapture of the Church, as John was not actually translated; in fact he was still in his natural body on the island of Patmos. He was translated into scenes of heaven only temporarily.’ — John F Walfoord

Enoch’s Rapture

Dispensationalism holds the view that Enoch and Elijah were examples of those who have already been ‘raptured’ to heaven.

A Quote from a Website Promoting Dispensationalism

‘Enoch and Elijah are two Old Testament examples of men taken live into heaven…
The Bible doesn’t describe their destination specifically, but some scholars have speculated that they were raptured just as the church will be…’ 
(Source available on request).

Gen 5:24 YLT And Enoch walketh habitually with God, and he is not, for God hath taken him.

Heb 11:5 YLT By faith Enoch was translated–not to see death, and was not found, because God did translate him; for before his translation he had been testified to–that he had pleased God well.

Heb 11:13 YLT In faith died all these, not having received the promises, but from afar having seen them, and having been persuaded, and having saluted them, and having confessed that strangers and sojourners they are upon the earth.

‘In faith died all these’ The Scriptures do not actually state Enoch was translated alive to Heaven, according to Hebrews 11:13, Enoch was included with those who died, not having received the promises… Hebrews 11:5

Elijah’s ‘Rapture’

2Ki 2:1 YLT And it cometh to pass, at Jehovah’s taking up Elijah in a whirlwind to the heavens, that Elijah goeth, and Elisha, from Gilgal,

King Jehoram forsook the God of his fathers and did wickedly; consequently he received writing from Elijah the prophet… 2 Chronicles 21:12 Elijah wrote to Jehoram telling him the judgement of God would come upon him for his actions. However, Jehoram did not begin his reign until sometime after Elijah was physically caught up in the whirlwind! Did Elijah write his letter from heaven?

Philip’s Rapture

Act 8:39-40 KJV And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away (harpazo) Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.

‘caught away’ Once again the Greek word ‘harpazo’ was used. In my opinion, Elijah was not caught up into ‘third heaven’ but simply physically caught away. Philip had a similar experience, he was found later at Azotus.

Conclusion

Eph 1:10 KJV That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:

A Quote from Geneva Bible Translation Notes

Ephesians 1:10 ‘The Father exhibited and gave Christ, who is the head of all the elect to the world, at that time which was convenient according as he most wisely disposed all times from everlasting. And Christ is he in whom all the elect from the beginning of the world (otherwise wandering and separated from God) are gathered together. And some of these elect were in heaven, when he came into the earth, that is, those who by faith in him to come, were gathered together. And others being found upon the earth were gathered together by him, and the rest are daily gathered together. The faithful are said to be gathered together in Christ, because they are joined together with him through faith, and become as it were one man.’

‘and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other’…Matthew 24:31. When Jesus returned He gathered the elect of all the ages past and the 1st century remnant into His Kingdom. The final barrier between God and mankind was removed as He took away the last vestiges of the Law that held the power of sin. The gathering was in the heavenly places in Christ, the spiritual Kingdom of God.

It is impossible to escape the conclusion that either the Trumpet of the Lord sounded during the 1st century generation or Jesus failed and mankind still has no escape from sin and separation from God.

The good news is the trumpet sounded and the faithful in Hades were ushered into God’s presence, those who were alive and remained were spiritually translated into the Kingdom of God.

Joh 5:24 KJV Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

What do you think?

 

The Great and the Terrible Day of the Lord

IMG_3696

The Prophet Isaiah, Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) | Source: Art and the Bible

Introduction

The Old Testament Prophets used metaphorical language on numerous occasions to describe divine judgement, also known as ‘The Day of the Lord’.

Jesus spoke with similar metaphorical language when He described His second coming in judgement, which was a spiritual not physical return. His audience was accustomed to this type of expression. Many understood the significance of His warning, while the majority rejected His call for repentance.

I have chosen a selection of prophecies where metaphorical language proclaimed God’s judgement on specific nations and Old Covenant Israel. The Lord always kept His Word, but used various practical methods to accomplish it.

In fact, it is misleading to apply a literal interpretation to the metaphorical language used to describe these events.

The Second Coming of Christ

Most scholars today insist on a physical manifestation of the second coming of Christ, however, if we compare the metaphorical language of Matthew 24:29-30 to Old Testament prophecies we will see a striking similarity in phraseology.

The LORD Thundered From Heaven… 2 Samuel 22:7-16

David

2Sa 22:7-11 KJV In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried to my God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter into his ears. 8 Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations of heaven moved and shook, because he was wroth. 9 There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it. 10 He bowed the heavens also, and came down; and darkness was under his feet. 11 And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: and he was seen upon the wings of the wind.

A Quote from Albert Barnes, Notes on the Bible

2 Samuel 22:1 ‘This song, which is found with scarcely any material variation as Ps. 18, and with the words of this first verse for its title, belongs to the early part of David’s reign when he was recently established upon the throne of all Israel, and when his final triumph over the house of Saul, and over the pagan nations 2Sa_22:44-46, Philistines, Moabites, Syrians, Ammonites, and Edomites, was still fresh 2 Sam. 21. For a commentary on the separate verses the reader is referred to the commentary on Ps. 18.’

David’s Psalm was one of thanksgiving for God’s powerful deliverance from all his enemies. This deliverance actually took place, but not in the way described, it is an excellent example of metaphorical language in Scripture.

Howl Ye; for the Day of the LORD is at Hand… Isaiah 13:6-13

Isaiah

Isa 13:10-13 KJV 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. 11 And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible. 12 I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir. 13 Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger.

Isaiah prophesied during 745-695 BC and described metaphorically the destruction of the Babylonian Empire, which existed from 606-536 BC.

Isa 13:17 KJV Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it.

Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them’ Isaiah explained the method of judgement used by the Lord… Isaiah 13:17-19.

The Shaking of the Hand of the LORD of Hosts… Isaiah 19:1-16

Isaiah

Isa 19:1 KJV The burden of Egypt. Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it.

The prophet proclaimed ‘the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt’, once again prophetic metaphorical language.

Isa 19:2-4 KJV And I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians: and they shall fight every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbour; city against city, and kingdom against kingdom. 3 And the spirit of Egypt shall fail in the midst thereof; and I will destroy the counsel thereof: and they shall seek to the idols, and to the charmers, and to them that have familiar spirits, and to the wizards. 4 And the Egyptians will I give over into the hand of a cruel lord; and a fierce king shall rule over them, saith the Lord, the LORD of hosts.

A Quote from John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

Isaiah 19:2 ‘I will set – Egypt was now one kingdom, but not many years after this time it was divided into twelve kingdoms, between whom there were many and cruel wars.’

The Children of Israel had placed their confidence in the Egyptians who were their allies against Assyria at the time. To break their dependency on Egypt, it was important they should be aware of the destruction about to come upon that nation at the hands of the ‘fierce king’ Psammetichus.

Isaiah 19:16 KJV In that day shall Egypt be like unto women: and it shall be afraid and fear because of the shaking of the hand of the LORD of hosts, which he shaketh over it.’

A Quote from Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary

Isaiah 19:16 ‘like … women — timid and helpless (Jer 51:30; Nah 3:13).
shaking of … hand — His judgments by means of the invaders (Isa 10:5, Isa 10:32; Isa 11:15).’

The Indignation of the LORD… Isaiah 34:2-5

Isa 34:3-5 KJV Their slain also shall be cast out and their stink shall come up out of their carcases, and the mountains shall be melted with their blood. 4 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. 5 For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment.

Although fulfilled, the judgement on Edom was not in the manner described in the prophecy.

Eze 25:14 KJV And I will lay my vengeance upon Edom by the hand of my people Israel: and they shall do in Edom according to mine anger and according to my fury; and they shall know my vengeance, saith the Lord GOD.

A Quote from Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary

Ezekiel 25:14 ‘by … my people Israel — namely, by Judas Maccabeus. The Idumeans were finally, by compulsory circumcision, incorporated with the Jewish state by John Hyrcanus (see Isa_34:5; Isa_63:1, etc.; 1 Maccabees 5:3). So complete was the amalgamation in Christ’s time, that the Herods of Idumean origin, as Jews, ruled over the two races as one people. Thus the ancient prophecy was fulfilled (Gen_25:23), “The elder shall serve the younger.”

The Fierce Anger of the LORD… Jeremiah 4:8-15

Jeremiah

Jer 4:13 KJV Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles. Woe unto us! for we are spoiled.

This metaphorical language described the sudden appearance of unexpected clouds, which often rise quickly and overspread the whole face of the heavens; similarly with great swiftness Nebuchadnezzar invaded ‘as a whirlwind’.

To be Trodden underfoot… Daniel 8:9-13

Daniel

Dan 8:10-11 KJV And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. 11 Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down.

The Lord’s instrument of judgement on this occasion was Antiochus Epiphanes who was a foretaste of ‘that man of sin’, Nero Caesar… 2 Thessalonians 2:3

Daniel 8:10 ‘The host of heaven – The Jewish hierarchy. The stars, the priests and Levites. The powers or host of heaven are probably intended by our Lord, Mat 24:29, to signify the whole Jewish hierarchy.’ — Adam Clarke, Commentary on the Bible

The Great and the Terrible Day of the LORD… Joel 2:28-31

Joel

Joe 2:28-31 KJV And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: 29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. 30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.

Act 2:20 KJV The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:

Peter preached the fulfilment of Joel’s prophecy on the Day of Pentecost… Acts 2:17-21 Not only did Peter’s generation witness the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, they were given the opportunity to repent before the impending ‘great and the terrible day of the LORD’ at Christ’s return in AD 70. The Lord’s method of judgement was the Roman Army.

I Will Shake the Heavens and the Earth… Haggai 2:6-9

Haggai

Hag 2:6-7 KJV For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; 7 And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts.

Heb 12:26-28 KJV Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. 27 And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:

The writer to the Hebrews quoted from Haggai 2:6-7, only one more shaking after the time of Haggai and it would be during their lifetime. Not only was it a material, but also a moral and spiritual event. It began with the advent of Christ and fulfilled at His return; among those things removed was the Old Covenant.

The Lord’s instrument was the Roman Army.

The Second Coming of Christ and Metaphorical Language

Luk 17:20-21 KJV And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

A Quote from the People’s New Testament

Luke 17:20-21 ‘When the kingdom of God cometh. These Pharisees expected a visible, temporal kingdom. Cometh not with observation. As a visible, earthly monarchy, like that of David. Is within you. A kingdom that has its throne in the heart, on which Christ, the King, sits. It has to be formed by yielding our hearts to Christ.’

‘The kingdom of God cometh not with observation’ Most scholars today insist on a physical manifestation of the second coming of Christ. However, if we compare the metaphorical language of Matthew 24:29-30 to Old Testament prophecies we find a striking similarity in figurative phraseology.

Matthew 24:29 vs the Old Testament Prophets

Matthew

Mat 24:29 KJV Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall 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:

Isaiah

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’

‘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’

Daniel

‘even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them’

Joel

‘The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood’

Haggai

‘I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land’

Matthew 24:30 vs the Old Testament Prophets

Matthew

Mat 24:30 KJV 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.

Isaiah

‘Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt:’

Jeremiah

‘Behold, he shall come up as clouds, and his chariots shall be as a whirlwind: his horses are swifter than eagles’

David

‘And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: and he was seen upon the wings of the wind’

Conclusion

Dispensationalism insists on a literal interpretation of the Scriptures. This may appear commendable on the surface, nevertheless, to have a full comprehension of the Word of God, we must have the Holy Spirit’s guidance to differentiate between literal and metaphorical language.

The Lord Jesus Christ described His return in judgement using the same figurative speech as the Old Testament prophets.

Joel’s prophecy concerning ‘the great and the terrible day of the Lord’ was fulfilled during the lifetime of Christ’s generation.

The second coming of Christ was neither the end of the world, nor the end of time. Instead, it was the end of the Old Covenant Age and the full establishment of the New Covenant Age.

What do you think?

 

Elijah the Prophet was not Taken up to Heaven

IMG_3695Elijah Taken Up in a Chariot of Fire, Giuseppe Angeli (1712-1798) | Source: Biblical Art on the WWW

Introduction

Dispensationalism appropriates the catching away of Elijah in support of the ‘rapture of the Church’ theory. This teaching assumes Elijah did not physically die, having been taken directly into God’s presence in Heaven. There he waits patiently to physically return prior to the second coming of Christ. In my opinion, Dispensationalism is a doctrine built upon speculation.

For Example:

A Quote from gracethrufaith.com

‘Enoch and Elijah are two Old Testament examples of men taken live into heaven. Neither of them died first. In Enoch’s case he is specifically described as “walking with God.” Elijah of course went in a chariot of fire that swooped down and picked him up in a whirlwind. The Bible doesn’t describe their destination specifically, but some scholars have speculated that they were raptured just as the church will be. If that’s the case, they were pushed forward in time and given perfected bodies allowing them to survive in the presence of God. Enoch has no further mission that we know of as far as Earth is concerned, but Elijah continues to be involved with mankind being anticipated at every Passover and present in spirit at circumcisions. He also appeared on the Mt. of transfiguration with Moses and will serve with him as one of the two witnesses of Revelation 11.’

‘The Bible doesn’t describe their destination specifically, but some scholars have speculated that they were raptured just as the church will be.’ Surely, doctrine cannot be built upon speculation. Let’s speak when the Scriptures speak and be silent when the Scriptures are silent.

‘they were pushed forward in time and given perfected bodies allowing them to survive in the presence of God.’ This statement is not only unscriptural, it contradicts the discussion Christ had with Nicodemus.

Joh 3:13 KJV And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
Only Christ who is fully God and fully man can ascend to and descend from heaven.

Elijah’s Paradox

There is an interesting paradox in the Scriptures concerning Elijah’s location when he sent his ‘writing’ to Jehoram, king of Judah, after his ‘rapture to heaven’! Many scholars have pondered this problem without producing a convincing explanation. I am persuaded the most obvious answer is the most likely, although it might incite an adverse response, nevertheless, it is sufficient to eliminate the Elijah endorsement of the ‘rapture theory’.

Elijah’s ‘Writing’ to Jehoram King of Judah

Historical Background

Elijah prophesied the death of Ahaziah the King of Israel who reigned from 853-852 BC, therefore, he was still on the scene… 2 Kings1:1-18

2Ki 3:11 KJV But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the LORD, that we may enquire of the LORD by him? And one of the king of Israel’s servants answered and said, Here is Elisha the son of Shaphat, which poured water on the hands of Elijah.

Jehoram, king of Israel, reigned after Ahaziah from 852-841 BC. He called on Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, to do battle with the Moabites around 852-851 BC. Elijah was no longer around and Elisha prophesied the Word of the Lord to the kings in his place.

The timeline proves Elijah was taken by the Lord prior to the Moabite rebellion in 852-851 BC, before Jehoram, king of Judah, the son of Jehoshaphat, came to the throne in 848 BC. Elijah could not have sent a letter to Jehoram if physically taken up into heaven in 852-851 BC.

Elijah’s Writing

2Ch 21:12-15 KJV And there came a writing to him from Elijah the prophet, saying, Thus saith the LORD God of David thy father, Because thou hast not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat thy father, nor in the ways of Asa king of Judah, 13 But hast walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and hast made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to go a whoring, like to the whoredoms of the house of Ahab, and also hast slain thy brethren of thy father’s house, which were better than thyself: 14 Behold, with a great plague will the LORD smite thy people, and thy children, and thy wives, and all thy goods: 15 And thou shalt have great sickness by disease of thy bowels, until thy bowels fall out by reason of the sickness day by day.

Elijah wrote to Jehoram King of Judah who reigned from 848-841 BC, declaring a terrible death awaited him for his evil ways. How did Elijah send this writing? Apparently, the Lord had taken him up in a whirlwind into heaven approximately 4 years earlier.

There are scholars who use this paradox to dispute the inspiration of the Scriptures. Others say it was a misunderstanding and Elisha sent the writing, or perhaps there was another prophet by the name of Elijah. Some claim Jehoram was co-regent with his father Jehoshaphat about 853 BC, there are no Scriptures to support this, but it is plausible. The conclusion drawn is Elijah may have been around during the early days of Jehoram’s co-regency.

2Ch 20:31-32 KJV And Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah: he was thirty and five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty and five years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi. 32 And he walked in the way of Asa his father, and departed not from it, doing that which was right in the sight of the LORD.

‘doing that which was right in the sight of the LORD‘ It is unlikely Jehoshaphat would have allowed his son to act wickedly during a co-regency, since he was a good king.

2Ch 21:4 KJV Now when Jehoram was risen up to the kingdom of his father, he strengthened himself, and slew all his brethren with the sword, and divers also of the princes of Israel.

Jehoram’s evil deeds occurred after he became king in his own right in 848 BC. Elijah’s writing contained a summary of the evil Jehoram had already done, not what he would do in the future. For example, it was after Jehoram became king he murdered his brothers.

The Heavens

2Ki 2:11 YLT And it cometh to pass, they are going, going on and speaking, and lo, a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and they separate between them both, and Elijah goeth up in a whirlwind, to the heavens.

The word ‘heavens’ is the Hebrew word ‘shamayim’ or ‘shameh’ meaning the sky, the area of the clouds, also the higher area of the stars and the planets.

The same word is used:

‘If I shut up heaven that there be no rain’… 2 Chronicles 7:13

‘And God called the firmament Heaven’… Genesis 1:8

Personally, I believe the ‘rapture’ of Elijah involved his removal to another location, not into God’s presence in Heaven.

Paul ‘Caught Up’ to Paradise

Why is it assumed that Elijah was taken alive in his physical body into God’s presence? God is Spirit and the Kingdom of God is a spiritual Kingdom, why would any saints be translated in their physical body into such a realm?

2Co 12:2-5 KJV I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) 4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.

Paul was spiritually translated temporarily into God’s holy presence in ‘third heaven’.

Philip’s ‘Harpazo’ Caught Away to Azotus

Act 8:39-40 KJV And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.

In my opinion, Philip had a similar physical experience to Elijah when ‘the Spirit of the Lord’ translated him to Azotus.

Enoch’s Rapture

Dispensationalism also holds the view that Enoch was ‘raptured’ to heaven, thereby giving credence to the dubious ‘rapture’ theory.

Gen 5:24 YLT And Enoch walketh habitually with God, and he is not, for God hath taken him.

translated–not to see death’ The Scriptures do not confirm Enoch was translated alive to Heaven.

Heb 11:5 YLT By faith Enoch was translated–not to see death, and was not found, because God did translate him; for before his translation he had been testified to–that he had pleased God well.

Heb 11:13 YLT In faith died all these, not having received the promises, but from afar having seen them, and having been persuaded, and having saluted them, and having confessed that strangers and sojourners they are upon the earth.

‘In faith died all these’ Enoch was included with the faithful who died, not having received the promises… Hebrews 11:5

Conclusion

I believe Elijah was translated physically to another place where he remained until his death and sent his writing from there.

In my opinion, Dispensationalism has subtly tapped into the imagination of many believers through intriguing speculative theories that cannot be supported by Scripture.

What do you think?

 

Elijah the Prophet will not Return

IMG_3694Elijah Fed by the Ravens, Il Guercino, Giovanni Francesco Barbieri, (1591-1666) | Source: Art and the Bible

Introduction

Due to the influence of Dispensationalism, with its strictly literal interpretation of the Scriptures, many Christians may feel it compromises their beliefs to consider a spiritual interpretation, even when appropriate.

For instance, Jesus’ discourse with His disciples in Matthew 17:10-13 is typical of the Scriptures being misunderstood by those who insist on a literal return of Elijah.

Mat 17:10-13 KJV And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? 11 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. 12 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. 13 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.

The disciples believed Elijah would physically return; the Jewish people still set a place for him at the Passover table. Nevertheless, Jesus taught the disciples the spiritual significance of John the Baptist’s ministry and the fulfilment of Malachi’s prophecy.

Let’s examine the misconstrued literal interpretation of ‘Elijah’s return’.

The Prophet Malachi

The disciples missed ‘the second coming of Elijah’ and it is not difficult to understand why, since they interpreted Malachi 4:5 literally.

Malachi was the last of the Old Testament prophets to call Israel to repentance. There was a gap of 400 years between Malachi and John the Baptist.

Mal 3:1-2 KJV Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. 2 But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap:

Mal 4:5 KJV Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:

Malachi proclaimed Elijah would prepare the way of the Messiah, prior to ‘the great and dreadful day of the LORD’.

A Quote from John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

Malachi 4:5 ‘The great and dreadful day of the Lord – This literally refers to the times of vengeance upon the Jews, from the death of Christ to the final desolation of the city and temple, and by accommodation, to the end of the world.’

Of all the commentaries at my disposal, John Wesley most clearly defined Malachi 4:5. Far be it from me to criticise such a wonderful man of God, but in my opinion, it is a great pity he felt it necessary to add ‘and by accommodation, to the end of the world’. There is in no mention of the end of the world in the Scriptures.

The Timeline of Elijah the Prophet’s Return

It is important to identify the timeline of Elijah’s coming; Malachi prophesied Elijah would prepare the way for two major events:

1) ‘I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me’ To prepare the way prior to Christ’s advent.

2) ‘before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord’ To proclaim the great and terrible day of the Lord at the passing of Old Covenant Israel, which involved the destruction of the temple, Jerusalem, and the dispersion of the Jews.

John the Baptist warned of these events, and both were fulfilled during the lifetime of his generation.

Mat 17:12-13 KJV But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. 13 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.

According to Dispensationalism, John did not demonstrate the miracles of Elijah, and the great and terrible Day of the Lord has not occurred. Therefore, Malachi’s prophecy remains unfulfilled until a future appearance of Elijah. This assumption is despite the words of Jesus that Elijah had already come! There is neither any suggestion in the Scriptures of a 2000 years gap between the two events, nor the slightest hint of double fulfilment of prophecy as some scholars suggest. If the great and terrible day of the Lord is a future event in the 21st century, then why did Jesus emphatically state ‘Elijah’ returned in the 1st century AD?

The great and terrible day of the Lord is not an ‘end of the world’ event in the far and distant future. On the contrary, Malachi’s prophecy was written specifically to Old Covenant Israel, whose relationship with the Lord was about to end in judgement. The disciples missed ‘the second coming of Elijah’ because they interpreted Malachi 4:5 literally.

John the Baptist

According to the Scribes and their literal interpretation of Malachi 4:5, Elijah would return as a forerunner to the Messiah.

Jewish scholars anticipated the physical return of Elijah, descending from heaven in the chariot that had previously caught him away. Therefore, in their estimation, John the Baptist was not Elijah. Consequently, Jesus could not have been the long awaited Messiah.

Luk 1:15-17 KJV For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. 17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

John came ‘in the spirit and power of Elijah’, having been ‘filled with the Holy Ghost even from his mother’s womb’. It was the same ‘spirit and power’ Elijah had been endued with 800 years earlier, but John was not Elijah in person.

Luk 7:27-28 KJV This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. 28 For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.

A Quote from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible

Luke 7:28 ‘He was, upon this account, so great, that really there was not a greater prophet than he. Prophets were the greatest that were born of women, more honourable than kings and princes, and John was the greatest of all the prophets. The country was not sensible what a valuable, what an invaluable, man it had in it, when John Baptist went about preaching and baptizing. And yet he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.’

Acts 13:25 And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not he. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose.

Some scholars insist John failed in his ministry. Such a suggestion contradicts the words of Jesus when He spoke of John being the greatest of the prophets. Not only by his character, preaching, faithfulness and martyrdom, John’s ministry was of the greatest importance in that he prepared the way for the Messiah and warned of impending judgement. John successfully completed his mission.

 A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Acts 13:25 ‘As John fulfilled his course – As John was fulfilling his race, he said, etc. It has been supposed that the word δρομον, course, or race, is used here to point out the short duration of the Baptist’s ministry, and the fervent zeal with which he performed it. It signifies properly his ministry, or life. A man’s work, employment, function, etc., is his race, course, or way of life. John had a ministry from God; and he discharged the duties of it with zeal and diligence; bore the fatigues of it with patience and resignation; and was gloriously successful in it, because the hand of the Lord was with him.’

Joh 1:20-21 KJV And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. 21 And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.

‘Art thou Elias?’ John the Baptist made it clear, he was not Elijah in person!

‘Art thou that prophet?’ Meaning the prophet to whom Moses referred in Deuteronomy 18:15.

‘The Prophet’ Promised by Moses, was none other than the Messiah. Peter, while preaching Christ to the men of Israel on the day of Pentecost, referred to the prophecy of Moses, thus confirming its fulfilment in their generation… Acts 3:22

‘I am a voice’ John called the people to repentance, because the Jews to whom he preached were at that time in a spiritual wilderness and unfit to receive the King… Isaiah 40:3

Joh 1:23 YLT He said, `I am a voice of one crying in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the Lord, as said Isaiah the prophet.’

Although John the Baptist was not Elijah in person, he was the fulfilment of prophecy.

‘If Ye Will Receive It’

Mat 11:14-15 KJV And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. 15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

‘if ye will receive it’ Jesus accentuated the importance of His statement, He was teaching a doctrine different to the prevalent view at the time. His proclamation varied from the current expectations of the Jews, and the disciples might be disposed to question it.

Matthew 11:15 ‘He that hath ears to hear …’ – This expression is frequently used by Christ. It is a proverbial expression, implying that the highest attention should be given to what was spoken. The doctrine about John he regarded as of the greatest importance. He among you, says he, that has the faculty of understanding this, or that will believe that this is the Elijah spoken of, let him attend to it and remember it.’ — Albert Barnes, Notes on the Bible

Conclusion

The vast majority of John the Baptist’s generation was oblivious to the presence of the Messiah, and stubbornly ignored the warnings of impending doom. Consequently, except for the remnant, they suffered the judgement in AD 70.

Jesus taught the disciples an important lesson concerning Old Testament prophecy when He explained the spiritual fulfilment of ‘the second coming of Elijah’. Not all prophecy is to be interpreted literally, and certainly not by the theory of double fulfilment!

The Bible student has to be open minded and capable of differentiating between literal and spiritual fulfilment without presupposition or bias.

This is also a prerequisite when interpreting prophecies concerning the second coming of Christ!

The fulfilment of Malachi’s prophecy was in the 1st century AD.

What do you think?

What Does the Bible Say About the End of the World?

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The Universe, Source: Softpedia

Introduction

Got Questions Website

I visited gotquestion.org recently and was reminded of a time when convinced by Dispensationalism’s view of the ‘end times’.

Got Questions promulgate Dispensationalism’s teaching that the millennium reign will begin at the Second Coming of Christ with Heaven and Earth being destroyed by fire or nuclear explosion at the end of the 1000 years.

The following question caught my attention, although I was dismayed by GQ’s answer.

‘What does the Bible say about the end of the world?’

Since I no longer hold GQ’s ‘end times’ view, I thought it unlikely I would agree with the answer. Considering GQ is a high profile website, in my opinion, the answer was stereotyped and inadequately thought through. Surely, when answering a question about mainstream Christian doctrine it would be wise to qualify the answer with ‘we at GQ believe’ rather than give the impression their answer is the only one.

A Quote from gotquestions.org

‘With over 4,900 answers to frequently asked Bible questions published online, approximately 75% of the questions we are asked already have answers available to you instantly.’

The emphasis on ‘available to you instantly’ highlights a desire to pander to a society that demands immediate results. For example, if someone is sincerely seeking Christianity’s answer to an important question, an ‘of the shelf’ answer is not always sufficient. I will attempt to explain why I believe it lacked substance.

The End of the Elements

G Q Answer (a): ‘The event usually referred to as “the end of the world” is described in 2 Peter 3:10: “The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.”

Response: Many scholars assume Peter’s ‘elements’ [stoicheion] belong to this material and physical world, even although there is no precedent in the Scriptures for doing so. The Greek ‘stoicheion’ means ‘elements, rudiments, or principles’.

In the King James Translation, ‘stoicheion’ appears seven times and never implied the classical elements, earth, wind, fire, and water. Consistently, ‘stoicheion’ was associated with the political and ecclesiastical constitution of the Jews, the elements, rudiments, or principles of Old Covenant Israel.

A Quote From John Lightfoot (1602-1675) Hebrew and Talmudical Exercitations

2Peter 3:10 ‘Then shall appear the ’sign of the Son of man,’ &c; which yet are said to fall out within that generation, ver. 34. 2Pet 3:10, The heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat,’ &c. Compare with this Deut 32:22, Heb 12:26 and observe that by elements are understood the Mosaic elements, Gal 4:9, Col 2:20 and you will not doubt that St. Peter speaks only of the conflagration of Jerusalem, the destruction of the nation, and the abolishing the dispensation of Moses”’

‘Stoicheion’ in the Scriptures

1) 2Pe 3:10 KJV But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements [stoicheion] shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

2) 2Pe 3:12 KJV Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements [stoicheion] shall melt with fervent heat.

Peter did not describe the utter destruction of the classical elements of this world; he proclaimed the end of the Old Covenant Age. On closer examination, ‘stoicheion’ defined the elements, rudiments, or principles of the Jewish polity.

3) Gal 4:3 KJV Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements [stoicheion] of the world.

The Galatians were previously in bondage to the elements, rudiments, or principles of Judaism.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary of the Bible

Galatians 4:3 ‘The elements of the world – A mere Jewish phrase, éñåãé òåìí äæä yesodey olam hazzeh, “the principles of this world;” that is, the rudiments or principles of the Jewish religion.’

4) Gal 4:9 KJV But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements [stoicheion] whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?

Paul warned the Galatians not to return to the elements, rudiments, or principles of Judaism’s bondage.

5) Col 2:8 KJV Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments [stoicheion] of the world, and not after Christ.

Paul warned the Colossians against those who spoil by philosophy and vain deceit after the elements, rudiments, or principles of the world, and not after Christ.

6) Col 2:20 KJV Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments (stoicheion) of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,

The Colossian believers in Christ were dead to the elements, rudiments, or principles of Jewish ordinances.

A Quote from the People’s New Testament

Colossians 2:20 ‘Wherefore. Ye died with Christ, died to the world, and to its rudiments, or fleshly ordinances. See note on Col_2:8 and Col_2:12. Why, then, as though belonging to the world, should you be subject to obsolete Jewish ordinances?’

7) Heb 5:12 KJV For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles [stoicheion] of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.

The writer to Hebrews admonished believers for their lack of maturity in the Scriptures. The solution was a return to the first elements, rudiments, or principles of the oracles of God.

The Day of the Lord

G Q Answer (b): ‘This is the culmination of a series of events called “the day of the Lord,” the time when God will intervene in human history for the purpose of judgment. At that time, all that God has created, “the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1), He will destroy.’

Response: It is an untenable statement to claim the Day of the Lord is a series of events. Dispensationalism promotes an imminent physical return of Christ in judgement, followed by a 1000 years reign also ending in judgement.

Act 2:17-20 KJV 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: 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: 19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:

On the Day of Pentecost, Peter preached the fulfilment of Joel’s prophecy within the lifetime of his generation… Joel 2:28-32  Initially fulfilled by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in AD 30 and culminating in the great and notable Day of the Lord in AD 70.

‘it shall come to pass in the last days’ Peter confirmed his generation lived during the last days; we are not living in last days today.

‘I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh’ The outpouring of the Holy Spirit was evidence of Christ on His heavenly throne in the last days before the impending Day of the Lord.

‘before that great and notable day of the Lord come’ Joel’s prophecy was fulfilled by the destruction of the temple, Jerusalem, and the dispersion of the Jews, at the return of Christ in AD 70.

Act 2:40-41 KJV And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. 41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

Not only did Peter’s generation witness the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, they were given the opportunity to repent before the imminent ‘great and notable day of the LORD’. Why would the Holy Spirit inspire Peter to preach repentance to his audience if the judgement didn’t apply to them?

The Timeline of the Day of the Lord

BG Q Answer (c): ‘The timing of this event, according to most Bible scholars, is at the end of the 1000-year period called the millennium. During these 1000 years, Christ will reign on earth as King in Jerusalem, sitting on the throne of David (Luke 1:32-33) and ruling in peace but with a “rod of iron” (Revelation 19:15).’

Response: 2Pe 3:10-12 KJV But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?

the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night’ Peter used the same metaphor as Jesus when He described His return to His generation… Matthew 24:34

Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God’ Peter had Christ’s imminent return in mind when he encouraged believers to live accordingly. The coming day of God was the Second Coming of Christ.

1Pe 4:7 KJV But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.

Watch unto prayer’ Peter said the end of all things is at hand, meaning within his generation’s lifetime and called the saints to ‘watch’.

Paul’s Timeline

1Th 5:2-6 KJV For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.

the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.’ Paul also used Christ’s ‘thief’ analogy when he taught the events leading to the Second Coming of Christ in his Epistles to the Thessalonians. He encouraged them to remain alert and ‘watch’ for the Day for the Lord. Therefore, the Second Coming of Christ and the Day of the Lord are synonymous; thereby, the Day of the Lord is not a series of events extending to the end of the 1000 years. To add to Dispensationalism’s dilemma, if Paul taught the rapture theory, why did he insist they watch for the Day of the Lord, if the rapture was seven years earlier?

Mat 24:42 KJV Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. 43 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.

if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come’ Christ used the ‘thief’ analogy when He described His return in judgement on Old Covenant Israel. During the same discourse He prophesied all these things would happen to His generation and advised them to ‘watch’.

Rev 16:14-15 KJV For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. 15 Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.

Behold, I come as a thief ‘ On this occasion, Jesus repeated the ‘thief’ metaphor and indicated His return at the battle of that great day of God Almighty, which was the siege of Jerusalem not the so called ‘Battle of Armageddon’… Revelation 16:19

Jesus, Paul, and Peter, described the Second Coming on the Day of the Lord. The context of the Epistles and the Olivet discourse provided encouragement and warnings about the signs leading to Christ’s return. Most importantly, the common denominator was the ‘thief’.

By identifying the timeline, it is apparent Peter’s destruction of Heaven and Earth was not literal. Peter did not describe the end of the universe he referred to the end of the principles of the Old Covenant world of Israel. The New Covenant Age was fully established when the Old Covenant passed away with the burning of the temple and Jerusalem.

Obliteration by a Nuclear or Atomic Reaction?

G Q Answer (d) First, it will be cataclysmic in scope. The “heavens” refers to the physical universe – the stars, planets, and galaxies—which will be consumed by some kind of tremendous explosion, possibly a nuclear or atomic reaction that will consume and obliterate all matter as we know it. All the elements that make up the universe will be melted in the “fervent heat” (2 Peter 3:12). This will also be a noisy event, described in different Bible versions as a “roar” (NIV), a “great noise” (KJV), a “loud noise” (CEV), and a “thunderous crash” (AMP). There will be no doubt as to what is happening. Everyone will see and hear it because we are also told that “the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.”

Response: What magnitude of nuclear explosion would destroy the universe?

New Heaven and New Earth

G Q Answer (e): ‘Then God will create a “new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1), which will include the “New Jerusalem” (v. 2), the capital city of heaven, a place of perfect holiness, which will come down from heaven to the new earth. This is the city where the saints—those whose names were written in the “Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 13:8)—will live forever. Peter refers to this new creation as “the home of righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13).

Response: Rev 22:10 KJV And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.

‘for the time is at hand’ If the fulfilment of the prophecy of the Book of Revelation was at hand 2000 years ago, the ‘New Heaven and New Earth’ and ‘New Jerusalem’ must also be fulfilled.

At Christ’s return in judgement, the New Covenant Age was fully inaugurated, and synonymous with the New Heaven and New Earth and Christ’s Everlasting Kingdom.

Conclusion

My Answer to the Question

Within mainstream Christianity there are sincerely held yet differing views concerning ‘the end of the world’, this is not unusual with ‘end times’ doctrine. However, regarding the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and His wonderful salvation, agreement is crucial to fellowship and the Faith.

Some scholars teach the end will come after Christ’s future return and His 1000 years reign. Others including myself, believe the world will not end, because the translation from Greek to English does not mean this physical world, but the end of an Age.

For example:

Mat 24:3 [King James Version] And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
Mat 24:3 [Youngs Literal Translation] And when he is sitting on the mount of the Olives, the disciples came near to him by himself, saying, ‘Tell us, when shall these be? and what is the sign of thy presence, and of the full end of the age?’

It stands to reason that we should be good stewards of this beautiful world, but should Christians be perplexed over the end of the world? Absolutely not, Paul wrote the following about the Lord Jesus Christ.

Col 1:16-17 KJV For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they bethrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

Heb 1:3 KJV Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

A Quote from Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

‘Hebrews 1:3 ‘And upholding all things by the word of his power – That is, by his powerful word, or command. The phrase “word of his power” is a Hebraism, and means his efficient command. There could not be a more distinct ascription of divinity to the Son of God than this. He upholds or sustains all things – that is, the universe. It is not merely the earth; not only its rocks, mountains, seas, animals and human beings, but it is the universe – all distant worlds. How can he do this who is not God? He does it by his word – his command. What a conception! That one simple command should do all this! So the world was made when God “spake and it was done; he commanded and it stood fast;” Psa 33:9. So the Lord Jesus commanded the waves and the winds, and they were still Mat 8:26-27; so he spoke to diseases and they departed, and to the dead land they arose; compare Gen 1:3. I do know how people can “explain away” this ascription of infinite power to the Redeemer. There can be no higher idea of omnipotence than to say that he upholds all things by his word; and assuredly he who can “hold up” this vast universe so that it does not sink into anarchy or into nothing, must be God. The same power Jesus claimed for himself; see Mat 28:18.’

We can rest assured that whatever the future holds, we know who holds the future.

What do you think?

The Last Days According to the Epistles

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Still Life with Bible, Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) / Source: VG Gallery

Introduction

Recently, I received challenging comments from a visitor to my article ‘Jesus Fulfilled the Promise of His Second Coming’. The posts contained 41 verses of Scripture in opposition to my ‘end times’ view, with a significant number from the Epistles. Hence, I will attempt to support my view by quoting the writers of the Epistles.

Three important facets for consideration:

(a) Translation (b) Tribulation (c) Transition

Translations of the Bible

The King James Version

Translating the Scriptures from Hebrew and Greek into English has been a formidable task for translators. A huge debt of gratitude is owed to the scholars who dedicated their lives to translating the Scriptures for our enlightenment.

Personally, I favour the King James Version, but I acknowledge there are inconsistencies that require careful scrutiny. My second choice is Young’s Literal Translation.

Robert Young’s Literal Translation

Robert Young was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1822 and died in 1888. He was a member of the Free Church of Scotland, formed in 1843. His printing company first published his Literal Translation of the Bible in 1862. Many scholars have paid tribute to his literary works.

Robert Young, by diligence and dedication, uncompromisingly highlighted discrepancies in previous translations that may have curtailed our understanding of the Scriptures relating to the ‘last days’.

The Greek ‘Mello’

A prime example of inconsistency in the King James, as well as other versions, is the translation of the Greek ‘mello’, which literally means ‘about to’. Fortunately, Young was articulate throughout his translation, thereby allowing us further insight for our deliberation.

A Quote from Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries

‘G3195 μέλλω mellō mel’-lo – A strengthened form of G3199 (through the idea of expectation); to intend, that is, be about to be, do, or suffer something (of persons or things, especially events; in the sense of purpose, duty, necessity, probability, possibility, or hesitation): – about, after that, be (almost), (that which is, things, + which was for) to come, intend, was to (be), mean, mind, be at the point, (be) ready, + return, shall (begin), (which, that) should (after, afterwards, hereafter) tarry, which was for, will, would, be yet.’

King James Concordance

‘Mello’ appears 82 times in the King James Concordance, translated five times only as ‘about to’ and never in verses associated with the ‘end times’.

It is of course essential to consider context, audience relevance, and prevailing circumstances when using a literal translation. Nevertheless, if the literal meaning of ‘mello’ (about to) was not applicable on 77 occasions out of 82, then surely the New Testament writers would have chosen an alternative Greek word to convey what they meant.

Providing we are willing to lay aside presupposition and take a fresh look at the Epistles, we will find an even greater level of expectation concerning the ‘about to’ return of Christ.

‘Mello’ the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles

Examine closely the following Scriptures and notice the sense of immediacy in Young’s translation. I use the word immediacy since Dispensationalism has sabotaged the meaning of imminency.

In Young’s version, Matthew wrote the Son of Man ‘is about to’ come in judgement. Similarly, Luke proclaimed the Olivet discourse prophecies ‘are about to come to pass’. Paul taught the resurrection was ‘about to’ take place!

A prolonged delay of 2000 years in Christ’s return was never on the agenda as far as Jesus and the Apostles were concerned. Did they get it wrong? Of course they didn’t.

King James Version vs Young’s Literal Translation

Mat 16:27 KJV For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

Mat 16:27 YLT ‘For, the Son of Man is about to come in the glory of his Father, with his messengers, and then he will reward each, according to his work.

Luk 21:36 KJV Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

Luk 21:36 YLT watch ye, then, in every season, praying that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that are about to come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.’

Act 17:31 KJV Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

Act 17:31 YLT because He did set a day in which He is about to judge the world in righteousness, by a man whom He did ordain, having given assurance to all, having raised him out of the dead.’

Act 24:15 KJV And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.

Act 24:15 YLT having hope toward God, which they themselves also wait for, that there is about to be a rising again of the dead, both of righteous and unrighteous;

Act 24:25 KJV And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.

Act 24:25 YLT and he reasoning concerning righteousness, and temperance, and the judgment that is about to be, Felix, having become afraid, answered, ‘For the present be going, and having got time, I will call for thee;’

The Greek ‘Aion’

Another example relevant to understanding the Epistles is Young’s translation of the Greek ‘aion’, which literally means ‘age’, as in ‘period of time’.

A Quote from Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries

‘G165 αἰών aiōn ahee-ohn’ – From the same as G104; properly an age; by extension perpetuity (also past); by implication the world; specifically (Jewish) a Messianic period (present or future): – age, course, eternal, (for) ever (-more), [n-]ever, (beginning of the, while the) world (began, without end). Compare G5550.’

King James Concordance

‘Aion’ appears 129 times in the King James Concordance, 72 times translated ‘ever’, 37 times ‘world’, but never ‘age’. This is extremely misleading.

In Matthew 13, Jesus endorsed John the Baptist’s warnings of pending judgement on Old Covenant Israel. During the parable of the sower Jesus revealed the timeline of the fiery judgement, not at the ‘end of the world’, but at the ‘full end of the age’ (aion). What ‘age’ was Jesus referring to? Many scholars contend Jesus taught the judgement was at the end of the world, while others the end of the so-called ‘Church’ Age. Taking into account the correct translation of ‘aion’, along with context, audience relevance, Old Testament prophecy, and the predictions of Jesus, the ‘age’ was obviously the Old Covenant Age.

King James Version vs Young’s Literal Translation

Mat 13:39-40 KJV The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. 40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.

Mat 13:39-40 YLT and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is a full end of the age, and the reapers are messengers. 40 `As, then, the darnel is gathered up, and is burned with bbfire, so shall it be in the full end of this age,

Mat 24:3 KJV And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?.

Mat 24:3 YLT And when he is sitting on the mount of the Olives, the disciples came near to him by himself, saying, `Tell us, when shall these be? and what is the sign of thy presence, and of the full end of the age?’

Tribulation

The Apostles wrote the Epistles during a time of intense trials and hardship for believers ‘in Christ’. Not only persecution and martyrdom during the rule of Emperor Nero, the Church also suffered persecution instigated by Jewish religious leaders in a vain attempt to extirpate Christianity. Consequently, Judaisers infiltrated the Church to undermine the teachings established by the Apostles, hence the need for the Epistles. These letters were a source of encouragement, guidance, and teaching, while believers awaited the fulfillment of Christ’s ‘Olivet’ prophecy.

Considering the early Church was going through such tribulation, it is inconceivable to imagine the Holy Spirit would have inspired the Apostles to emphasise Christ was ‘about to’ return, knowing the event was 2000 years in the future.

Consider the following Scriptures:

King James Version vs Young’s Literal Translation

Rom 8:18 KJV For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Rom 8:18 YLT For I reckon that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory about to be revealed in us;

Rom 8:39 KJV Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Rom 8:39 YLT  nor things about to be, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of god, that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Transition Period AD 30 ­- AD 70

A further aspect to take into consideration concerning the Epistles is the 1st century Church lived through a period of covenantal change, described by some scholars as the Transition Period, or the ‘already, but not yet’. This was a work in progress during Christ’s ministry on Earth until the judgement in AD 70.

The Day of the Lord

Destruction and Dispersion

The Old Covenant Age was about to come to a catastrophic end, culminating in the great tribulation and judgement at the return of Christ.

Old Covenant Israel began with a 40 years period of wandering in the wilderness, and about to end with a 40 years period of subjugation and suffering.

At the end of the transition period, the saints inherited the fulness of salvation and the Kingdom of God. Meanwhile, the Romans destroyed Old Covenant Israel and scattered abroad the survivors.

The Day of Redemption

Salvation

Heb 1:14 YLT are they not all spirits of service—for ministration being sent forth because of those about to inherit salvation.

Through the sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus Christ, 1st century believers were ‘heirs’ of salvation, the ‘already, but not yet’. Believers were empowered by the Holy Spirit who was their guarantee while they awaited with anticipation the fulness of their salvation.

Heb 9:28 YLT so also the Christ, once having been offered to bear the sins of many, a second time, apart from a sin-offering, shall appear, to those waiting for him—to salvation!

The Old Covenant high priest was a type and foreshadow of the Lord Jesus Christ, our great High Priest.

On the Day of Atonement, Old Covenant Israel did not celebrate the forgiveness of their sins for that year until the high priest returned to the congregation from the temple Holy of Holies. The Lord Jesus Christ, the antitype, returned from the heavenly Holy of Holies to complete the redemption of the saints. Hence, the Epistles encouraged the faithful to continue through trials and persecution until the Day of Redemption.

Many scholars take issue with this view, insisting that believers still await the consummation of their salvation, even after 2000 years and counting!

1Pe 1:4-6 YLT to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and unfading, reserved in the heavens for you, 5 who, in the power of God are being guarded, through faith, unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time, 6 in which ye are glad, a little now, if it be necessary, being made to sorrow in manifold trials,

In his Epistle, Peter wrote to believers their trials would strengthen their faith and build character, bringing praise, honour, and glory, to Christ at His return.

According to Peter the great and the terrible Day of the Lord was at hand… Acts 2:19-20

The Kingdom of God

Mat 21:42 YLT Jesus saith to them, `Did ye never read in the Writings, A stone that the builders disallowed, it became head of a corner; from the Lord hath this come to pass, and it is wonderful in our eyes. 43 `Because of this I say to you, that the reign of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth its fruit;

Jesus told the Scribes and the Pharisees, because of corruption, desecration of the temple offerings, and their rejection of the Messiah, they had forfeited the Kingdom.

To a certain extent the saints already reigned with Christ during the ‘already, but not yet’. However, during the transition period those ‘in Christ’ awaited patiently the casting out of all Christ’s enemies that they might inherit the fulness of the Kingdom of God.

Peter identified in his Epistle the nation to inherit the Kingdom, the elect remnant along with the Gentiles who were ‘graffed’ into the Israel of God.

Consider the following Scriptures:

King James Version vs Young’s Literal version

Heb 6:5 KJV And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,

Heb 6:5 YLT and did taste the good saying of God, the powers also of the coming age,

Heb 10:27 KJV But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

Heb 10:27 YLT but a certain fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery zeal, about to devour the opposers;

Conclusion

Rev 21:3 and I heard a great voice out of the heaven, saying, ‘Lo, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will tabernacle with them, and they shall be His peoples, and God Himself shall be with them—their God,

In the New Covenant Age, ‘born again’ believers have received their inheritance, salvation, and the Kingdom. Today, those ‘in Christ’ have an abundant entrance into the Holy of Holies, and fellowship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

What do you think?

Jesus Fulfilled the Promise of His Second Coming

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Rider on the White Horse, Gerard Jullain (1670)

Introduction

Critics of Christianity try to undermine the integrety of the Lord Jesus Christ, declaring Him a false prophet because they cannot reconcile the ‘imminent’ factor of His ‘end times’ predictions.

Most Christians are also unable to account for the simple statements Jesus made concerning His impending return.

In my opinion, Dispensationalism’s emphasis on empirical evidence and imaginative narrative has blinded the eyes of many believers.

According to Deuteronomy 18, if the words uttered by a prophet failed to come to pass that person was considered a false prophet.

Deu 18:20-22 KJV But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. 21 And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? 22 When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.

If the words of Jesus failed, He too would be a false prophet and Christianity discredited as a result.

Deu 18:18-19 KJV I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. 19 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.

However, Moses prophesied God would raise up a Prophet, both Peter and Stephen proclaimed Jesus was that Prophet… Acts 3:22-23; Acts 7:37

Deuteronomy 18:15-19 ‘…In fact, in the words before us, Moses gives promise both of a prophetic order, and of the Messiah in particular as its chief; of a line of prophets culminating in one eminent individual. And in proportion as we see in our Lord the characteristics of the prophet most perfectly exhibited, so must we regard the promise of Moses as in Him most completely accomplished.’ — Albert Barnes, Notes on the Bible

The Prophetic Credentials of the Lord Jesus Christ

Jesus is ‘That Prophet’

Joh 1:21 KJV And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.

When John the Baptist was asked if he was ‘that prophet’, he succinctly answered, no.

Joh 5:45-47 KJV Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. 46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. 47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

Most importantly, Jesus declared to the Jews He was ‘that Prophet’. Nevertheless, they refused to believe Him and were held accountable in AD 70.

The Scriptures clearly present the credentials of the Lord Jesus Christ, is it likely that He could ever get it wrong? Of course He couldn’t.

Luk 21:32 KJV Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.

Jesus kept all His promises and is true to His word, having returned to His generation exactly when He said He would.

Phrases that Clearly Implied an Imminent Second Coming

Did Jesus fail to keep His promise regarding His imminent return? Of course He didn’t! The following selection of Scriptures contain phrases of imminence, such as ‘at hand’, ‘the time is short’, and ‘it is the last time’.

‘At hand’ means in the near future not the far and distant future as taught by many scholars today.

A Quote from Dictionary.Com

‘at hand a. within reach; nearby; close by. b. near in time; soon.’

It is not difficult to understand the meaning of the phrase ‘at hand’ in the following Scriptures, the term simply means the events mentioned were about to happen and subsequently did.

If we accept the aforementioned came to pass after a short time, surely we must remain consistent when interpreting the following:

Mat 3:2 KJV And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Mat 4:17 KJV From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Mat 10:7 KJV And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Does ‘at hand’ still mean imminent in these Scriptures? If yes, then the Kingdom of Heaven arrived during the lifetime of Christ’s generation.

Of course, God has always been Sovereign over His creation; hence, Jesus came at the appointed time to establish the Kingdom of God in the hearts of men.

A phrase like ‘at hand’ does not fit Dispensationalism’s view of eschatology, and it is not uncommon to be told that ‘at hand’ cannot mean what it says it does, even although the claim of Dispensationalism is to take the Scriptures literally.

An unwillingness to address the consequences of Jesus’ statements is common throughout the Church teaching fraternity. Nevertheless, the Scriptures clearly proclaim Jesus fulfilled all the Law and the Prophets exactly as He promised.

How else can we account for the following Scriptures that unequivocally state an impending return?

Paul constantly taught the imminent return of the Lord, was he guessing, or did the Holy Spirit inspire him? The answer should be obvious to believers.

Jesus and the Imminent Second Coming

It is important to consider audience relevance when interpreting the Scriptures. Jesus was speaking specifically to His disciples, not to believers 2000 years in the future.

Mat 16:27 KJV ‘For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father’

Mat 16:27 YLT ‘For, the Son of Man is about to come in the glory of his Father’

In his literal translation, Robert Young indisputably asserted Christ’s impending return when he correctly translated the Greek word ‘mello’ as ‘about to come’ rather than ‘shall come’ in the KJV.

Joh 5:25 KJV Verily, verily, I say unto you, 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.

‘and now is’ What have we to make of such assertive statements from the inspired Word of God? Not only was the parousia imminent but also the resurrection and the judgement!

Dispensationalism has corrupted the meaning of ‘imminent’, interpreting it as something that can happen at anytime in the future. It actually means something about to happen, impending.

A Quote from Dictionary.com

‘Imminent adjective 1. likely to occur at any moment; impending: Her death is imminent.’

Paul and the Imminent Second Coming

Rom 13:12 KJV The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.

Rom 16:20 KJV And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

1Co 7:29 KJV But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none;

Phi 4:5 KJV Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.

1Th 4:15 KJV For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

Paul said ‘we which are alive’, he did not say ‘those’!

Why did Paul constantly teach the imminent return of the Lord, was he guessing, or inspired by the Holy Spirit? Of course He was inspired.

The Writer to the Hebrews and the Imminent Second Coming

Heb 10:37 KJV For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.

The only major historic event ‘at hand’ after the Day of Pentecost was the ‘great and the notable day of the Lord’. The historical evidence of the judgement was the destruction of the temple, Jerusalem, and the dispersion of the Jews in AD 70… Acts 2:20

James and the Imminent Second Coming

Jas 5:8-9 KJV Be ye also patient; establish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. 9 Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.

Peter and the Imminent Second Coming

1Pe 4:7 KJV But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.

Both James and Peter referred to the judgement about to take place when Jesus returned.

John and the Imminent Second Coming

1Jo 2:18 KJV 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.

Rev 1:1 KJV 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:

A Quote from the Pulpit Commentary

Revelation 1:1 ‘It does not follow, because St. John had events near to his own day in his mind, that his words are limited to those events for us.’

Really! John neither plucked the Revelation out of thin air, nor was it a figment of his imagination. John obediently wrote what was revealed to him concerning impending events. Some incredulous scholars misinterpret the simplest statements to accommodate their presuppositions.

The fundamental message of the Revelation was the approaching parousia with the accompanying judgement on the guilty nation of Old Covenant Israel.

Did the Apostles Join the Ranks of the False Prophets of Their Day?

Mat 24:26 KJV Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.

Jesus warned His disciples that false prophets would arise in ‘the last days’ saying the Messiah was here or there. Did the Apostles join their ranks by proclaiming the imminent return of Christ? Of course not, they preached by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Is it at all possible that Jesus and the Apostles were wrong in their predictions? Of course they weren’t!

Did they give false hope to the persecuted Church of the 1st century by encouraging them to believe the second coming was about to happen? Of course they didn’t!

Were they guilty of deception? Of course they weren’t!

It is contrary to the divine nature to lie or to deceive; everything Jesus said was truth.

A Quote from Eusebius Bishop of Caesarea c 265-340 ‘Theophania’

’…I need now only say, all these things have been done : the old and elementary system passed away with a great noise; all these predicted empires have actually fallen, and the new kingdom, the new heaven and earth, the new Jerusalem–all of which were to descend from God, to be formed by His power, have been realised on earth ; all these things have been done in the sight of all the nations ; God’s holy arm has been made bare in their sight: His judgments have prevailed, and they remain for an everlasting testimony to the whole world. His kingdom has come, as it was foretold it should, and His will has, so far, been done; His purposes have been finished; and, from that day to the extreme end of time, it will be the duty, as indeed it will be the great privilege of the Church, to gather into its bosom the Jew, the Greek, the Scythian, the Barbarian, bond and free; and to do this as the Apostles did in their days–in obedience, faith and hope…’

Conclusion

Dispensationalism claims prophecy is still unfulfilled even although the time ‘was near’ 2000 years ago. It appears that most Christians do not believe Jesus when He said ‘I come quickly’.

Will believers continue to be entertained by TV evangelists who take their ‘end times’ theology from the daily newspaper, or accept the Word of God and come to terms with the inevitable repercussions?

The language Jesus and the Apostles used was clear, simple, and concise. Yes, the time is ‘at hand’, the time is at hand for a paradigm shift in our approach to the subject of eschatology!

What do you think?

Footnote

Dispensationalism is rooted in the writings of John Nelson Darby (1800–1882) and the Plymouth Brethren Movement.

The concept consists of a distinctive eschatological ‘end times’ perspective. All proponents hold to Premillennialism and the majority to a Pretribulation Rapture.

Dispensationalism teaches the nation of Israel is distinct from the Church, and that God has yet to fulfil His promises to national Israel. These include the land promise and a future Millennium kingdom, whereupon Christ will rule the world from Jerusalem for a thousand years.

Preterism teaches that all ‘end times’ prophecy was fulfilled by AD 70.

We are not Living in the Last Days

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The Prophecy of the Destruction of the Temple, James Tissot (1836-1902) / Source: Brooklyn Museum

Introduction

Mat 24:3 YLT And when he is sitting on the mount of the Olives, the disciples came near to him by himself, saying, `Tell us, when shall these be? and what is the sign of thy presence, and of the full end of the age?’

Christ’s return was to take place at the culmination of the last days of the age. It is therefore important not only to identify the timeline of ‘the last days’, but also ‘the age’ in question.

The last days neither referred to the end of time, nor to the end of the world. The last days were those prior to the end of the Old Covenant Age in AD 70. Allow me the opportunity to explain.

Old Testament Prophecy

Moses and the Last Days

Moses prophesied to the Children of Israel that in ‘the latter days’ of the Old Covenant Age ‘evil will befall you’. Old Covenant Israel would provoke the Lord to anger.

Daniel and the Last Days

Nebuchadnezzar’s dream revealed the kingdoms that would rise before the appearance of the Messiah and the establishment of the Kingdom of God. The final empire prior to Christ’s advent was the Roman Empire, and Daniel referred to that period as ‘the latter days’.

In my opinion, we are not living in ‘the last days’ or ‘the end times’. The Church does not need to ‘hold the fort’ desperately awaiting rescue from the enemy’s horde. Christ defeated His enemies exactly as and when He said He would.

Joel and the Last Days

Joe 2:28-31 KJV And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: 29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. 30 And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.

Joel’s prophecy was to Old Covenant Israel about events ‘before the great and the terrible day of the LORD’, which took place in AD 70. His prophecy is irrelevant to Christians 2800 years later!

Did Jesus Live During ‘the Last Days’? Yes He did!

The Writer to the Hebrews and the Last Days

Heb 8:13 KJV 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.

The Epistle to the Hebrews c AD 65 preceded the culmination of the Old Covenant. The waxing away of the Old Covenant reached its consummation with the destruction of the temple, Jerusalem, and the dispersion of the Jews in AD 70.

The writer to the Hebrews said they were living at the ‘end of the world’ (King James Version), or ‘the full end of the ages’ (Young’s Literal Translation). Thereby, meaning the end of all the preceding ages.

For Example: Antediluvian, Postdiluvian, Patriarchal, and Old Covenant.

Obviously, he was not alluding to the end of this physical world, he was writing to Jewish believers who lived during the Old Covenant Age.

The theme of the Epistle to the Hebrews consists of a series of comparisons between the Old Covenant passing away and the arrival of the New Covenant that will never pass away.

Paul and the Last Days

1Co 10:11 YLT And all these things as types did happen to those persons, and they were written for our admonition, to whom the end of the ages did come,

Audience relevance is vitally important, Paul told the Corinthians ‘the end of the ages did come’ in their lifetime; he was not writing to Christians 2000 years in the future.

Peter and the Last Days

1Pe 1:19-20 WNT but with the precious blood of Christ–as of an unblemished and spotless lamb. 20 He was pre-destined indeed to this work, even before the creation of the world, but has been plainly manifested in these last days for the sake of you who, through Him,

Peter wrote that Jesus shed His precious blood ‘in these last days’, further affirmation that Jesus lived during the last days!

John and the Last Days

1Jo 2:18 YLT Little youths, it is the last hour; and even as ye heard that the antichrist doth come, even now antichrists have become many–whence we know that it is the last hour;

This Scripture presents a considerable problem for Dispensationalism since there are no hours after ‘the last hour’, how can a millennium on earth follow after the last hour?

John narrowed the imminence factor to the last hour when he wrote 2000 years ago saying the last hour had come, yet there have been many hours since; he was actually referring to the last hour of the Old Covenant Age not to the end of time.

Fulfilment of Old Testament Prophecy

The Acts of the Apostles and the Last Days

Act 2:16-20 KJV But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 17 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: 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: 19 And I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke: 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:

‘this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel’ Peter quoted Joel’s prophecy on the Day of Pentecost to warn his fellow Jews that they were living in the last days prior to ‘the great and notable day of the Lord’.

‘And it shall come to pass in the last days’ Even although Peter declared his generation was living in ‘the last days’ and witnessing the fulfilment of Joel’s prophecy, Dispensationalism insists this prophecy is still unfulfilled. To proclaim the Day of Pentecost was the birthday of the Church, and we are living in the last days of the so-called Church Age, is to fly in the face of Scripture. If Dispensationalism is correct, then the whole 2000 years of the ‘Church Age’ has consisted of the last days of the ‘Church Age’!

Consider also, since Jesus’ ministry was during ‘the last days’… Hebrews 1:2, then ‘the last days’ existed prior to the Day of Pentecost! Therefore, the last days clearly applied to the Old Covenant Age.

The Day of Pentecost was not the birthday of the Ekklesia; it was the empowerment thereof, by the coming of the promised Holy Spirit… Joel 2:28-32

Conclusion

The 1st century Church lived during a transition period called ‘the last days’. Not until that period ended would the saints enter into the fulness of the New Covenant Age.

Eph 1:21 YLT far above all principality, and authority, and might, and lordship, and every name named, not only in this age, but also in the coming one;

Christ’s generation lived during the Mosaic Old Covenant Age and eagerly awaited the Messianic Age. The New Testament describes these two ages as ‘this age’ and ‘the coming one’.

Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension occurred during the last days of Old Covenant Israel, which ended at His return with the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem in AD 70.

There is no doubt we live in troublesome times and war is not outwith the realm of possibility. However, we are not living in ‘the last days’ or ‘the end times’ described in the Bible.

Jesus kept all His promises!

What do you think?

What Jesus Meant by ‘This Generation shall not Pass’

Christ Among the Doctors Albrecht Durer  (1506) 1471-1528 Source Olga's GalleryChrist Among the Doctors, Albrecht Durer (1471-1528) Source: Olga’s Gallery

Introduction

Why is Matthew 24:34 difficult to understand?

Mat 24:34 KJV Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
Mat 24:34 NET I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.

‘Verily I say unto you’ According to Thayer ‘verily’ in the KJV means ‘at the beginning of a discourse – surely, truly, of a truth’.

Jesus used ‘verily’ to emphasise His statement. Having the attention of His audience, He continued with a simple declaration concerning His generation.

A Quote from the New English Translation Notes

Matthew 24:34 ‘This is one of the hardest verses in the gospels to interpret. Various views exist for what generation means. (1) Some take it as meaning “race” and thus as an assurance that the Jewish race (nation) will not pass away. But it is very questionable that the Greek term γενεά (genea) can have this meaning. Two other options are possible. (2) Generation might mean “this type of generation” and refer to the generation of wicked humanity. Then the point is that humanity will not perish, because God will redeem it. Or (3) generation may refer to “the generation that sees the signs of the end” (v. 30), who will also see the end itself. In other words, once the movement to the return of Christ starts, all the events connected with it happen very quickly, in rapid succession.’

‘This is one of the hardest verses in the gospels to interpret’ Seriously, what an embarrassing admission. The New English Translation Notes provide an example of how far some commentators will go to defend their eschatological view. In my opinion, Matthew 24:34 is one of the hardest verses in the gospels to misinterpret!

There is an option the NETN failed to mention; Jesus meant exactly what He said! Did Jesus use ambiguous language? Of course He didn’t. The New Testament writers clearly understood Him; all anticipated His return within the lifetime of their generation.

‘This generation shall not pass’ Jesus spoke specifically to His generation. Surely, if He had a gap of 2000 years in mind, He would have said so.

Scholars have a dilemma, in particular, those who misrepresent ‘this generation’ to accommodate their futuristic ‘end times’ scenario. Many conveniently downplay this prophecy, however, by so doing they also discredit Jesus our Prophet. The repercussions of acknowledging the simple truth of this prophecy would cause the theological world insurmountable embarrassment.

A Quote from C S Lewis

‘But there is worse to come. “Say what you like,” we shall be told, “the apocalyptic beliefs of the first Christians have been proved to be false. It is clear from the New Testament that they all expected the Second Coming in their own lifetime. And, worse still, they had a reason, and one which you will find very embarrassing. Their Master had told them so. He shared, and indeed created, their delusion. He said in so many words, ‘this generation shall not pass till all these things be done.’ And he was wrong. He clearly knew no more about the end of the world than anyone else.”‘

It is a pity C S Lewis did not consider the Preterist view rather than conclude Jesus got it wrong!

Jesus’ Generation was ‘This Generation’. Let’s examine other portions of Scripture that include the phrase ‘this generation’

This Generation is Like Little Children

Mat 11:16-19 YLT `And to what shall I liken this generation?it is like little children in market-places, sitting and calling to their comrades, 17 and saying, We piped unto you, and ye did not dance, we lamented to you, and ye did not smite the breast. 18 `For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a demon; 19 the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, Lo, a man, a glutton, and a wine-drinker, a friend of tax-gatherers and sinners, and wisdom was justified of her children.’

In this portion of Scripture Jesus admonished the Jews of His generation for their vacillation and fickleness… Luke 7:31-35 He said they were like ungrateful children because nothing pleased them. Was Jesus applying this statement to a future generation? Of course not.

A Faithless and Perverse Generation

Mat 17:17 KJV Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.

It is obvious Jesus was speaking to His generation, He rebuked those in His midst… Mark 9:19

This Generation is Evil

Luk 11:29 YLT And the multitudes crowding together upon him, he began to say, This generation is evil, a sign it doth seek after, and a sign shall not be given to it, except the sign of Jonah the prophet,

Without question, ‘this generation’ applied to Jesus’ generation, the ‘sign of Jonah’ was a type and foreshadow of Christ’s resurrection.

Jesus was Rejected of This Generation

Luk 17:25 KJV But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary

Luke 17:25 ‘But first must he suffer many things – As the cup of the iniquity of this people shall not be full till they have finally rejected and crucified the Lord of life and glory, so this desolation cannot take place till after my death.’

This Untoward Generation

Act 2:40 KJV And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

In Acts 2:40 Peter’s audience was Jesus’ generation.

All These Things Shall Come Upon This Generation

In Matthew 23, Jesus condemned the Scribes and the Pharisees, obviously those of His day. He warned them the ‘judgement of gehenna’ was about to come upon them. He did not assign this judgement to a generation thousands of years in the future.

Required of This Generation

Jesus prophesied judgement on Old Covenant Israel. In AD 70, the Roman Army decimated His impenitent generation.

This or That Generation

Mat 24:34-35 KJV 34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. 35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

‘This generation’ If Jesus had a future generation in mind, He would have said ‘that generation’ or ‘the generation’ instead of ‘this generation’.

‘Heaven and earth shall pass away’ Referred to the passing of Old Covenant Israel.

‘my words shall not pass away’ The words of Jesus concerning the New Covenant and the Kingdom of God will never pass away… Mark 13:30-31; Luke 21:32-33

If we take Jesus at His word, we must accept He categorically stated His return would be during the lifetime of His generation.

The aforementioned examples concerned Jesus’ generation, therefore, it is imperative we remain consistent when interpreting Matthew 24:34.

A Quote from Joseph Benson’s Commentary

Matthew 24:32-35 ‘…….”It is to me a wonder,” says Bishop Newton, “how any man can refer part of the foregoing discourse to the destruction of Jerusalem, and part to the end of the world, or any other distant event, when it is said so positively here in the conclusion, All these things shall be fulfilled in this generation. And it seems as if our Lord had been aware of some such misapplication of his words, by adding yet greater force and emphasis to his affirmation, Matthew 24:35, Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away — That is, heaven and earth shall sooner, or more easily pass away than my words; the frame of the universe shall sooner, or more easily pass away than my words shall not be fulfilled. In another place, (Matthew 16:28,) he says, There are some standing here which shall not taste of death till they see, the Son of man coming in his kingdom, intimating that the event would not take place immediately, and yet not at such a distance of time but that some then living would be spectators of the calamities coming upon the nation. In like manner, he says to the women who bewailed him as he was going to be crucified, Luke 23:28, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children; which words sufficiently implied that the days of distress and misery were coming, and would fall on them and their children. But at that time there was not any appearance of such an immediate ruin. The wisest politician could not have inferred any such thing from the then present state of affairs. Nothing less than divine prescience could have foreseen and foretold it.” ‘

Luke 11:50-51 ‘The blood of all shall be required of this generation – That is, shall be visibly and terribly punished upon it. And so it was within forty years, in a most astonishing manner, by the dreadful destruction of the temple, the city, and the whole nation…’ — John Wesley, Explanatory Notes

The Parable of the Fig Tree

A Quote from Hal Lindsey

‘When the Jewish people, after nearly 2,000 years of exile, under relentless persecution, became a nation again on 14 May 1948 the ‘fig tree’ put forth its first leaves. Jesus said that this would indicate that He was ‘at the door,’ ready to return.’

The Mount of Olives was a source of figs as well as olives, summer was near when the leaves appeared on the fig trees; it was inevitable the trees were about to bear fruit. The signs prior to Christ’s return in judgement were as dependable as the leaves on the Fig tree.

Luk 21:29 KJV And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees;

The parable was not specifically about the fig tree, Luke included ‘all the trees’. Jesus emphasised the certainty of the signs leading to the end of the Old Covenant Age, not to the restoration of the Israel in 1948.

Mat 24:33 KJV So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know it is near, even at the doors.

Audience relevance – Jesus was speaking to His disciples. The timeline – ‘it is near, even at the doors’.

Mat 24:34 KJV Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.

When Matthew 24:32-34 is read in context, it is patently clear Jesus had His generation in mind.

The phrase ‘This generation’ appears 16 times in the gospels, and always concerning Christ’s generation.

The Predictions of Jesus

When Jesus answered the questions asked by His disciples, He constantly responded:

‘and ye shall hear’

‘when ye shall see’

‘then shall they deliver you

‘and shall kill you

‘when ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation’

Jesus spoke directly to His disciples when He prophesied the fulfilment of impending events.

The End of the Age

Dispensationalism teaches Matthew 24:3 is pertinent to our generation!

To understand the ‘end times’, it is crucial to identify the ‘age’ the disciples were anxious about. They lived during the Old Covenant Age, and the Prophets had foretold the judgement during its ‘latter days’… Deuteronomy 31:29; Daniel 12:6-13

Eph 1:21 YLT far above all principality, and authority, and might, and lordship, and every name named, not only in this age, but also in the coming one;

What ‘age’ would have been of most interest to them? Surely, the one in which they were living. Their immediate concern was the end of the Old Covenant with its consequences… Hebrews 8:13 After all, why would they ask about the end of the glorious coming age?

It is inconsistent to accept all the Scriptures examined refer to Jesus’ generation except for one, Matthew 24:34.

Simply put, those who misrepresent the meaning of ‘this generation’ do so because their eschatology demands it.

Is there a 2000 years ‘gap’ or have scholars made a ‘gaffe’?

What do you think?

The Book of Revelation was Written Before AD 70

St. John the Evangelist on Patmos Titian 1544 Source Olga's GallerySt John the Evangelist on Patmos, Titian (1544) Source: Olga’s Gallery

Introduction

In my opinion, John received the Revelation prior to AD 70, to encourage and prepare the Church for the events leading to the vision’s imminent fulfilment. I believe therefore, Christ’s second coming described in the Revelation took place during the ‘great and the dreadful day of the Lord’ in AD 70. On that ‘day’ of judgement, Old Covenant Israel ended with the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem; the remaining survivors of the Jewish nation were enslaved and dispersed throughout the Roman Empire. All the Lord’s promises to Old Covenant Israel were fulfilled by AD 70, with the establishment of the New Covenant Age.

Futurists, Dispensationalism in particular, adamantly oppose this view by insisting on a post-AD 70 date, in an attempt to refute Preterism. However, the AD 95 date is heavily dependent on the writings of certain Church Fathers, primarily a 2nd century quotation taken from the writing of Irenaeus, found in the works of Eusebius, Book 5, and Chapter 8.

I will attempt to explain why I am convinced the pre-AD 70 date is the correct one, by allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture. Thereby, affirming the Revelation was a vision of the destruction of Old Covenant Israel, not an apocalyptic event 2000 years later.

Irenaeus’ Quote: the only Grounds for the Late Date Theory

‘We, therefore, do not venture to affirm anything with certainty respecting the name of antichrist. For were it necessary that his name should be clearly announced to the present age, it would have been declared by him who saw the revelation. For it has not been long since it was seen, but almost in our own generation, about the end of Domitian’s reign.’ (Irenaeus, Against Heresies).

I fail to understand why most scholars today confidently date the Revelation around AD 95 based on the above quote. The source of the statement is from a Latin translation, which does not instil confidence in its accuracy. I can only conclude it accommodates their ‘end times’ theory.

Several Church Fathers also wrote that Domitian (AD 51-AD 96) was Roman Emperor when John received the Revelation. However, it is possible that they too based their information on the writings of Irenaeus.

The Word of God is our final authority and it makes sense to search the Scriptures to find the answer, rather than depend on an ambiguous quote passed down by the Church Fathers.

Hebrews 12:22-24 and the Revelation

Heb 12:22-24 KJV 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, 23 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, 24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

The Epistle to the Hebrews AD 61-63 (Halley) includes quotes from the Revelation. The writer and the Hebrew believers were obviously familiar with the Revelation given to John.

IMG_0104On the Epistle to the Hebrews: ‘In short, it is placed beyond all reason-able doubt that since the author of the Apocalypse cannot be supposed to have drawn his description from the epistle, the writer of the epistle must have derived his ideas and imagery from the Apocalypse.’ — James Stuart Russell (1816-1895)

James 1:12 and the Revelation

James is also worthy of mention because of one small but significant gem of information.

‘the Lord hath promised’ The Epistle of James AD 60 (Halley) contains the only reference to the Revelation’s ‘crown of life’. James referred to the promise of Jesus to the Church at Smyrna!

Is it unreasonable to suggest the Apostle James had read the Revelation?

2 Peter 2:15 and the Revelation

Nicolaus in Greek has the same meaning as Balaam in Hebrew; John called the followers of Balaam, ‘Nicolaitans’.

The dilemma troubling the Revelation’s Church at Pergamos was the same issue addressed in the epistles of Peter and Jude. Peter even included Asia amongst others on his mailing list… 1 Peter 1:1 He wrote that some were ‘following the way of Balaam’ which was precisely the charge against the Nicolaitans in the Revelation!

Since the AD 67 (Halley) date is attributed to 2nd Peter and Jude, the early date for the Revelation can hardly be denied.

This proves the Revelation is not a ‘stand alone’ book in the Bible; it played a significant part in the pre-AD 70 Church.

Caesar Nero and the Revelation

Rev 17:10 KJV And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.

The Historian Suetonius’ Chronology of the Emperors

‘five are fallen’ Julius; Augustus; Tiberius; Gaius/Caligula; Claudius
‘and one is’ John wrote in the present tense, Nero was ruling at the time John wrote the Revelation. Nero was Roman Emperor from AD 54 – AD 68.

‘the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space’ Galba ruled only a matter of months. He was the first of the ‘year of the four emperors’ in AD 69, which was a time ‘of wars and rumours of wars’… Matthew 24:6

Four Emperors ruled in remarkably quick succession, which was evidence of the turmoil in the Roman Empire leading to AD 70: Galba; Otho; Vitellius; Vespasian

The Temple and the Revelation

Rev 11:1 KJV And there was given me a reed like unto a rod:and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.

Revelation 11 ‘The reference to Jerusalem and the Temple in chapter 11 seems clearly to imply their existence at the time the Book was written; and this, together with the expectation of Christ’s speedy second coming, accords well with the early date. If this view be correct the Revelation was the first of John’s Writings, not the last, though its subject-matter naturally gives it its place as the conclusion of the New Testament and of all revelation.’ — W Graham Scroggie, DD (Edin), Know Your Bible

John was to measure the temple, the altar, and them that worshipped, which strongly implies the temple was still standing when he wrote the Revelation.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Revelation 11:1 ‘And there was given me a reed – See Eze_40:3, etc. Measure the temple of God – This must refer to the temple of Jerusalem; and this is another presumptive evidence that it was yet standing. Revelation 11:2 ‘ But the court – is given unto the Gentiles – The measuring of the temple probably refers to its approaching destruction, and the termination of the whole Levitical service; and this we find was to be done by the Gentiles, (Romans), who were to tread it down forty-two months; i.e., just three years and a half, or twelve hundred and sixty days. This must be a symbolical period.’

The measuring rod was a building term. The rod was for the demolition as well as the construction of a building. Metaphorically, the temple awaited its impending destruction.

2Ki 21:13 KJV And I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of Ahab: and I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down.
2 King 21:10-13 is an example of building terms used in times of judgement and destruction.

A Quote from John Gill’s Exposition of the Whole Bible

2 Kings 21:13 ‘And I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria,…. The Targum is, the line of destruction; and the sense is, that the same measure should be measured to Jerusalem as was to Samaria; that is, the same lot and portion should befall one as the other, that is, be utterly destroyed: and the plummet of the house of Ahab; the Targum is, the weight or plummet of tribulation; signifying, that the same calamities should come upon the families of Jerusalem, and especially on the family of Manasseh as came upon the family of Ahab. It is a metaphor from builders that take down as well as raise up buildings by rule and measure, see 2Sa_8:2.’

Rev 11:2 KJV But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.

A Quote from Easton’s Bible Dictionary

‘Several remains of Herod’s stately temple have by recent explorations been brought to light. It had two courts, one intended for the Israelites only, and the other, a large outer court, called “the court of the Gentiles,” intended for the use of strangers of all nations. These two courts were separated by a low wall, as Josephus states, some 4 1/2 feet high, with thirteen openings. Along the top of this dividing wall, at regular intervals, were placed pillars bearing in Greek an inscription to the effect that no stranger was, on the pain of death, to pass from the court of the Gentiles into that of the Jews.’

It has been suggested by those who promote the AD 95 date of the Revelation that the temple in John’s vision was not Herod’s temple, since it was destroyed in AD 70. Nevertheless, it is interesting to note John’s reference to the Court of the Gentiles, which was an extravagant addition, commissioned by Herod. Therefore, it is likely John saw Herod’s temple in the Revelation.

Forty and Two Months and the Revelation

‘to scatter the power of the holy people’ Daniel prophesied a sign of the end Old Covenant Israel would be the dispersion of the nation. History records that catastrophe occurred in AD 70.

forty and two months’ Daniel also prophesied it would be accomplished during ‘a time, times, and an half’, which most commentators agree that in prophetic language a ‘time’ is one year, ‘times’ is two years, and ‘half’ is half a year, equivalent to forty-two months.

Luk 21:24 KJV And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

During the Olivet discourse, Jesus foretold the events leading to the destruction of the temple, Jerusalem, and the dispersion of the people in AD 70. He also taught this national calamity was the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy in Daniel 12:7.

Rev 11:2 KJV But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread underfoot forty and two months.

Jesus affirmed in the Revelation the timeline of Daniel’s prophecy, which was exactly the duration of the pre-AD 70 Jewish-Roman War. Therefore, the Revelation existed before the destruction of the temple. Albert Barnes made the following insightful observation:

Mat 24:15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)

A Quote from Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

Matthew 24:15 ‘The abomination of desolation – This is a Hebrew expression, meaning an abominable or hateful destroyer. The Gentiles were all held in abomination by the Jews, Act_10:28. The abomination of desolation means the Roman army, and is so explained by Luk_21:20. The Roman army is further called the “abomination” on account of the images of the emperor, and the eagles, carried in front of the legions, and regarded by the Romans with divine honors.

Spoken of by Daniel the prophet – Dan_9:26-27; Dan_11:31; Dan_12:11, see the notes at those passages.

Standing in the holy place – Mark says, standing where it ought not,” meaning the same thing. All Jerusalem was esteemed “holy,” Mat_4:5. The meaning of this is, when you see the Roman armies standing in the holy city or encamped around the temple, or the Roman ensigns or standards in the temple. Josephus relates that when the city was taken, the Romans brought their idols into the temple, and placed them over the eastern gate, and sacrificed to them there, “Jewish Wars,” b. 6 chapter 6, section 1.

Whoso readeth … – This seems to be a remark made by the evangelist to direct the attention of the reader particularly to the meaning of the prophecy by Daniel.’

The Imminent Factor and the Revelation

The Revelation predicated the Lord’s imminent return. So why do most Bible commentators ignore or misinterpret what is clearly in the Scriptures?

The Lord made it transparently clear on four occasions in the first chapter and four times in the final chapter. In my opinion, it impugns the intelligence of believers to teach and adamantly maintain the Revelation applies to a generation in the far and distant future!

It would have been cruel to say the least, if the Lord gave the Revelation to John for the encouragement of believers, during a time of great tribulation and persecution under the Emperor Nero, containing a message of His imminent glorious return, knowing the event would not transpire for thousands of years.

The AD 95 Factor

If the correct date of the Revelation is AD 95, what major imminent event took place within months or a few years of its publication? The answer is none!

‘Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of’ Jesus in His reply to James and John explicitly predicted their martyrdom. Did Jesus get it wrong? Of course, He did not.

Topography and the Revelation

(Topography: the study of the detailed mapping or charting of the features of a relatively small area, district, or locality.)

Joh 5:2 KJV Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.

Most theologians assign all John’s writings to AD 90-95. If scriptural evidence for a pre-AD 70 date were available, academic credibility would be seriously in question. Topography provides an irrefutable argument for the pre-AD 70 date of John’s Gospel.

John told of a pool by the sheep gate called ‘Bethesda, having five porches’. This is a significant statement because the destruction of the porches took place in AD 70.

In John 5:2, John clearly stipulated ‘there is at Jerusalem’ not ‘there was at Jerusalem’. If he had written his Gospel in AD 95 he would not have used the present tense, therefore, John must have written prior to AD 70. See C H Dodd’s Historical Tradition In The Fourth Gospel, for further study along this line.

The following is a must read for skeptics who claim the Pool of Bethesda never existed:

A Quote from the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem

‘The discipline of biblical archaeology and its resulting discoveries are forcing Jesus Research to undergo a paradigm shift. It is challenging the skeptic scholar because the recent discoveries of the Pool of Bethesda and Pool of Siloam demonstrate that the author of the Gospel of John knew intimate details of pre-70 AD Jerusalem that even Josephus failed to know or mention. He also knew things about Jerusalem that we did not know ten years ago. “The accuracy of the Johannine information is clearly established,” writes Urban C. von Wahlde, Professor of Theology at Loyola University of Chicago, in his work Jesus and Archaeology. John can no longer be read as strictly a theological work comprised of invented stories to illustrate its theological truths. Moreover, biblical archaeology is proving edifying to the passionate believer who can now point with confidence to the excavated Pool of Bethesda and say, “Jesus healed a disabled man here.” Or, they can sit on the steps of the Pool of Siloam, read John 9 and imagine how the story unfolded before their very eyes, bolstering their faith in the Light of the world.’

https://int.icej.org/news/special-reports/jerusalem-finds-validating-gospel-john

John 5:2 ‘There is in Jerusalem – Hence it appears, that St. John wrote his Gospel before Jerusalem was destroyed: it is supposed about thirty years after the ascension. Having five porticos – Built for the use of the sick. Probably the basin had five sides! Bethesda signifies the house of mercy.’ — John Wesley, Explanatory Notes

Christ’s Olivet Prophecy

The Jewish people suffered the ultimate calamity when the temple and Jerusalem were destroyed in AD 70. Additionally, the nation suffered defeat, devastation, and humiliation; the survivors were dispersed and enslaved throughout the Roman Empire. Yet, John failed to mention the fulfilment of Christ’s Olivet prophecy!

A Quote from John A T Robinson (1919-1983)

Robinson commented further saying ‘the silence is nevertheless as significant as the silence for Sherlock Holmes of the dog that did not bark’.

Speaking more specifically on John’s Gospel, Robinson wrote ‘there is nothing that suggests or presupposes that the temple is already destroyed or that Jerusalem is in ruins’.

A Quote from Robert Young’s Concise Commentary on the Holy Bible

‘The Gospel of John was most probably written at Ephesus, A.D. 68, and, judging from the comparative purity of its Greek, after the composition of the ‘Revelation’ in Patmos.’

The post-AD 70 date for the writings of John was never an option for the highly respected translator and theologian Robert Young (1822-1888).

John’s Demise and the Revelation

Joh 21:22 KJV Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.

Not only is there conflict of opinion over the dating of the Revelation, the year of John’s demise is also open to question.

‘If I will that he tarry till I come’ Many Futurist scholars misrepresent John 21:22 in a vain attempt to support their view that John lived into old age and wrote the Revelation in AD 95. If Jesus has not yet returned and John has died, then Jesus’ prediction failed.

Mar 10:37-39 KJV They said unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory. 38 But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? 39 And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized:

‘Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of’ Jesus in His reply to James and John explicitly predicted their martyrdom. Did Jesus get it wrong? Of course He didn’t. Personally, I believe it is reasonable to suggest John did not live to old age, but suffered martyrdom during the ‘great tribulation’ prior to AD 70.

A Quote from Robertson’s Word Pictures

Mark 10:38 ‘Or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with (ē to baptisma ho egō baptizomai baptisthēnai). Cognate accusative with both passive verbs. Mat 20:22 has only the cup, but Mark has both the cup and the baptism, both referring to death. Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane will refer to his death again as “the cup” (Mar 14:36; Mat 26:39; Luk 22:42). He had already used baptism as a figure for his death (Luk 12:50). Paul will use it several times (1Cor 15:29; Rom 6:3-6; Col 2:12).’

Post Apostolic Writing and the Revelation

According to Paul, he fulfilled the great commission during his lifetime, if the AD 95 date of the Revelation were correct it would be post apostolic literature.

Why would it be necessary to unveil the Revelation after the New Testament was complete? … Acts 17:6; Romans 1:8; Romans 16:25-26; Colossians 1:5-6

A Quote from Robert Young’s Concise Commentary on the Holy Bible (1865)

Introduction to The Revelation

‘It was written in Patmos (about A.D. 68), whither John had been banished by Domitius Nero, as stated in the title of the Syriac Version of the Book; and with this concurs the express statement of Irenaeus (A.D. 175), who says it happened in the reign of Domitianou, i.e. Domitius (Nero). Sulpicius Severus, Orosius, &c., stupidly mistaking Domitianou for Domitianikos, supposed Irenaeus to refer to Domitian, A.D. 95, and most succeeding writers have fallen into the same blunder. The internal testimony is wholly in favour of the earlier date. The temple at Jerusalem was still standing (ch. 11.1-10); the exact duration of the siege is foretold, viz., 42 months, 31/2 years, or 1260 days; the two witnesses are to be slain in the city where our Lord was crucified; Nero was reigning at the time, for it is said of the seven kings of Rome; ‘five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come, and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.’ The five kings are Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius. The ‘one who is ‘ is Nero; the one who ‘must continue for a short space’ is Galba, who reigned only seven months. Everywhere the events are ‘to come quickly,’ lit. ‘with haste,’ or speed (ch. 1.1; 2.16; 3.11; 11.14; 22.7, 12, 20). The escape of the Christian Jews from Jerusalem to Pella is undoubtedly referred to in ch. 7.1-8, compared with Mat. 24.30.’

Conclusion

Contrary to popular opinion, although the Revelation is the last book in the Bible it does not mean it was the last book written. The books of the Bible are not in chronological order.

Having examined the Scriptures in support of the pre-AD 70 date, ask yourself this question:

Can I risk misinterpreting the Scriptures on an ambiguous statement taken from the writings of Irenaeus, or should I allow Scripture to interpret Scripture?

Either way our answer will have a profound effect on our understanding of the New Testament.

What do you think?