Apologetics war_of_jews

Published on October 11th, 2010 | by Gary DeMar

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What Does Peter Mean by the Passing Away of Heaven and Earth? A Study of 2 Peter 3

By Gary DeMar and David Chilton

If there’s one passage of Scripture that is repeatedly brought up as an indictment against anyone who objects to modern-day prophetic speculation, it is 2 Peter 3:3–18. If you dispute with those who argue that all the signs around us indicate that we are living in the “last days,” then you are labeled a “scoffer” or a “mocker” (2 Peter 3:3). If this is true, then how should we describe those who argued that proposed signs during the two world wars were not signs of the end? They were right! Were they “scoffers”? The same could be asked about those who rejected the claim that events surrounding the French Revolution in the 18th century were sure signs of a prophetic end of all things. Every generation has had those who claimed the end was near and those who argued that the end was not near. Appealing to contemporary signs to make predictions of a near end has a long history as Francis Gumerlock demonstrates in his book The Day and the Hour. One would think that by now Christians would stop doing it. But they don’t. They know revving people up over the “last days” sells books, lots of books.

The people Peter accuses of being “scoffers” were enemies of Jesus and the gospel. They scoffed at the claims made by Jesus that the temple would be destroyed and Jesus Himself would be the one to make it happen before their generation passed away. Since more than 30 years had passed since Jesus made this prediction, and the temple was still standing with no indication that it would be destroyed in less than a decade, they began to mock the words of Jesus. There’s a big difference between a “scoffer” who rejects biblical revelation, in this case, Jesus’ words, and someone who argues for an alternative position using sound biblical arguments. A person who disagrees with modern-day prophetic speculation is not a “scoffer,” especially when there have been so many failed attempts at predicting the certainty of the end over the years. One could just as easily make the case that modern-day prophetic speculators (you know who they are) are “scoffers” and “mockers” because they twist and distort Jesus’ clear words that He would return in judgment before that first-century generation passed away (Matt. 24:34). They try to argue that the Greek word genea, best translated as “generation,” can be translated as “race” or “nation.” When that doesn’t work, some argue that “this generation” (what’s present), should be translated “that generation” (what’s future). When Jesus’ clear words don’t suit their prophetic paradigm, words are removed and new words added. “This generation” becomes, “the generation that sees these signs,” as if Jesus was addressing a generation other than the one to whom He was speaking. Jesus made it clear that His present audience (“you”) would “see all these things” (Matt. 24:33).

Second Peter 3 links “scoffers” (v. 3 in KJV; “mockers” in NASV) with “the last days” (v. 3), “the promise of His coming” (v. 4), the “day of the Lord” (v. 10), and the passing away of the “heavens” and the “earth” (v. 10). The “last days,” in Peter’s use of the phrase, is not code for events leading up to either the “rapture” or the second coming. Gordon Clark comments:

“The last days,” which so many people think refers to what is sill future at the end of this age, clearly means the time of Peter himself. I John 2:18 says it is, in his day, the last hour. Acts 2:17 quoted Joel as predicting the last days as the lifetime of Peter. . . . Peter obviously means his own time.(1)

There are other passages like Hebrews 1:1–2 (notice the use of the plural near demonstrative “these”), Hebrews 9:26 (notice the use of “now”), 1 Corinthians 10:11 (“upon whom the ends of the ages have come”), and James 5:3 (the storing up of their treasure was in “the last days”). The question is: The last days of what? The last days of the old covenant with its stone temple, blood sacrifices, and earthly sinful priesthood.

Given that most Christians who make the “scoffer” charge are premillennial, that is, they believe that after a future seven-year period of great tribulation, a thousand year reign of Jesus on the earth will immediately follow. It’s only after this 1007-year period that the events described in 2 Peter 3 are said to be fulfilled. The “new heaven and a new earth” comes into existence after “the first heaven and the first earth passed away” (Rev. 21:1). These events follow the thousand year period of Revelation 20. Given premillennial assumptions (which I believe are wrong), it is biblical to argue that the events described by Peter cannot be near. How can a person be a “scoffer” or a “mocker” of near events when the supposed dissolution of the cosmos is more than a millennium away? It doesn’t make any sense. The charge only makes sense if the described events are actually near, near to Peter’s generation. Those in Peter’s audience were looking “for these things” (2 Peter 3:3). How could they be looking for “these things” if they were at least 1007 years in their future? In fact, once Jesus sets foot on planet earth again, according to premillennialism, it will be quite easy to calculate when the events of 2 Peter 3 will take place—exactly a thousand years later. To silence a “scoffer,” all a person has to say is, “Look, God promised that these events won’t happen for a thousand years.” This means that for the premillennialist, the events revealed and described by Peter can’t have anything to do with our time. They are still far in the future. This means that this section of Scripture can’t be used to club those who reject the notion that we are living in the last days. Peter specifically says, once again following the premillennial paradigm, the last days are at this moment in time at least 1007 years in the future. So, if the “last days” refer to the period just before the dissolution of the cosmos that is at least 1007 years in our future, then we can’t be living in the “last days” and there are no signs that can be called in evidence to support the claim that a new physical heaven and earth are on the prophetic horizon.

The language of 2 Peter 3 is certainly apocalyptic and world ending, but is Peter describing the end of the space time universe as we generally conceive it or is he describing the end of a different type of world? The only way to know is to study similar language found in the Old Testament. In Micah 1:1, a prophetic word was revealed “to Micah of Moresheth in the days of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.” Micah’s prophecy isn’t about a time in the distant future. Rather, it’s about “the rebellion of Jacob and for the sins of the house of Israel” because of “the high place of Judah” (1:5). The prophecy is about a time when idol worship dominated the nation (1:6–7). Notice how the imminent judgment is described:

Hear, O peoples, all of you; Listen, O earth and all it contains,

And let the Lord GOD be a witness against you,

The Lord from His holy temple.

For behold, the Lord is coming forth from His place.

He will come down and tread on the high places of the earth.

The mountains will melt under Him

And the valleys will be split,

Like wax before the fire,

Like water poured down a steep place.

God is calling the world as a witness against His covenant people who had the law against idols and graven images given to them in a personal way, in commandments written on stone (Rev. 20). God is described coming down that has the effect of melting the mountains, splitting the valleys, and flooding the land with the melted debris. This language is used elsewhere to describe similar local events (Judges 5:4; 2 Sam. 22; Ps. 18:7–10; 68:8; Isa. 64:1–2). It’s the language of decreation. Did the mountains melt? No more than the “foundations of the world were laid bare” (Psalm 18:15) when David battled “all his enemies” (see the Prologue to the Psalm).

We find something similar in the book of Zephaniah. A local judgment that has national consequences for Judah and Jerusalem (1:4) is described in a way that depicts the end of the earth and every living thing on it:

“I will completely remove all things

From the face of the earth,” declares the Lord.

“I will remove man and beast;

I will remove the birds of the sky

And the fish of the sea,

And the ruins along with the wicked;

And I will cut off man from the face of the earth,” declares the Lord (Zeph. 1:2–3).

This local judgment is a reversal of creation. Later in the chapter we read, “Near is the great day of the Lord, near and coming very quickly. . . . And all the earth will be devoured in the fire of His jealousy, for He will make a complete end, indeed a terrifying one, of all the inhabitants of the earth” (1:14, 18). Notice the use of “fire,” “a complete end,” including the end of the earth. Peter uses the same language. He writes from the vantage point of his day that “the end of all things is at hand” (1 Peter. 4:7; cf. “in these last times”: 1:20). Like in Zephaniah, this prophetic description can hardly be a declaration that the end of the physical universe was about to take place. The Bible’s use of “at hand” (near) indicates that whatever this end is, it was near for Peter and his first-century audience. Jay E. Adams offers a helpful commentary on the passage, taking into account its historical and theological context:

[First] Peter was written before A.D. 70 (when the destruction of Jerusalem took place)…. The persecution (and martyrdom) that these (largely) Jewish Christians had been experiencing up until now stemmed principally from unconverted Jews (indeed, his readers had found refuge among Gentiles as resident aliens)…. [H]e refers to the severe trials that came upon Christians who had fled Palestine under attack from their unconverted fellow Jews. The end of all things (that had brought this exile about) was near.

In six or seven years from the time of writing, the overthrow of Jerusalem, with all its tragic stories, as foretold in the Book of Revelation and in the Olivet Discourse upon which that part is based, would take place. Titus and Vespasian would wipe out the old order once and for all. All those forces that led to the persecution and exile of these Christians in Asia Minor—the temple ceremonies (outdated by Christ’s death), Pharisaism (with its distortion of O.T. law into a system of works-righteousness) and the political stance of Palestinian Jewry toward Rome—would be erased. The Roman armies would wipe Jewish opposition from the face of the land. Those who survived the holocaust of A.D. 70 would themselves be dispersed around the Mediterranean world. “So,” says Peter, “hold on; the end is near.” The full end of the O.T. order (already made defunct by the cross and the empty tomb) was about to occur.(2)

What “promise of His coming” (2 Peter 3:4) does Peter have in mind? Peter was present when Jesus told him and some of the other apostles, “there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” (Matt. 16:27–28). This event had to be in the lifetime of Jesus’ audience. In similar fashion, Jesus told His disciples that He would return in judgment before “this generation” passed away (24:34). Jesus always uses “this generation” to refer to His contemporaries (Matt. 11:16; 12:41, 42; 23:36; Mark 8:12; 13:30; Luke 7:31; 11:29, 30, 31, 32, 50, 51; 17:25; 21:32). He never uses “this generation” to refer to a future generation. The parousia (“coming”/“presence”) is a time of divine judgment (Matt. 24:27) upon the old covenant world. Peter was present when Jesus told him that He would return in judgment within a generation (Mark 13:3, 30). In the next verse, Jesus tells Peter and those who are with him that “heaven and earth will pass away” (13:31; Matt. 24:35). The burning up of “heaven and earth” is a reference to the end of the old covenant economy. As Jews who were familiar with the Old Testament, they would not have understood Jesus’ words in any other way. Between Matthew 16:27–28 and 24:34, Jesus tells His disciples that Jerusalem will be burned with fire (22:7). With that burning, everything associated with the old economy went with it. Peter Leithart puts the chapter in context for us: “But wherever would the mockers have gotten the idea that Jesus was coming before the ‘fathers” died? Why, lo and behold, Jesus said exactly that. The whole debate presupposes that Jesus promised to come soon. Without that premise, neither the mockers’ mockery nor Peter’s letter makes any sense. Peter and his opponents differ on the crucial question of the promise’s reliability, but they agree on its content.”(3) The “fathers” (2 Peter 3:4) are the true early church fathers, those who died since Jesus promised that they would come before their generation passed away (Matt. 24:34; see 24:9; John 16:2; Acts 7:54–60; 12:2).

There’s much more that can be said about 2 Peter 3. The following section was written by the late David Chilton (1951–1997). David left behind a large body of work on eschatology: a verse-by-verse commentary on the book of Revelation (The Days of Vengeance), a work on prophetic interpretive principles (Paradise Restored), and an exposition of the Olivet Discourse (The Great Tribulation).

* * * * * *

According to St. Peter’s second epistle, Christ and the apostles had warned that apostasy would accelerate toward the end of the “last days” (2 Pet. 3:2–4; cf. Jude 17–19)—the forty-year period between Christ’s ascension and the destruction of the Old Covenant Temple in A.D. 70.(4) He makes it clear that these latter-day “mockers” were Covenant apostates: familiar with Old Testament history and prophecy, they were Jews who had abandoned the Abrahamic Covenant by rejecting Christ. As Jesus had repeatedly warned (cf. Matt. 12:38–45; 16:1–4; 23:29–39), upon this evil and perverse generation would come the great “Day of Judgment” foretold in the prophets, a “destruction of ungodly men” like that suffered by the wicked of Noah’s day (2 Pet. 3:5–7). Throughout His ministry Jesus drew this analogy (see Matt. 24:37–39 and Luke 17:26–27). Just as God destroyed the “world” of the antediluvian era by the Flood, so would the “world” of first-century Israel be destroyed by fire in the fall of Jerusalem.

St. Peter describes this judgment as the destruction of “the present heavens and earth” (2 Pet. 3:7), making way for “new heavens and a new earth” (2 Pet. 3:10). Because of what may be called the “collapsing-universe” terminology used in this passage, many have mistakenly assumed that St. Peter is speaking of the final end of the physical heaven and earth, rather than the dissolution of the Old Covenant world order. The great seventeenth-century Puritan theologian John Owen answered this view by referring to the Bible’s very characteristic metaphorical usage of the terms heavens and earth, as in Isaiah’s description of the Mosaic Covenant:

For I am the LORD your God, who stirs up the sea and its waves roar (the LORD of hosts is His name). I have put My words in your mouth and have covered you with the shadow of My hand, to establish the heavens, to found the earth, and to say to Zion, “You are My people” (Isa. 51:15–16).

Owen writes:

The time when the work here mentioned, of planting the heavens, and laying the foundation of the earth, was performed by God, was when he “divided the sea” ([Isa. 51] v.15), and gave the law (v. 16), and said to Zion, “Thou art my people”—that is, when he took the children of Israel out of Egypt, and formed them in the wilderness into a congregation of believers and a civil state. Then he planted the heavens, and laid the foundation of the earth—made the new world; that is, brought forth order, and government, and beauty, from the confusion wherein before they were. This is the planting of the heavens, and laying the foundation of the earth in the world. And hence it is that when mention is made of the destruction of a state and its government, it is in that language that seems to set forth the end of the world. So Isaiah 34 which is the destruction of the state of Edom. The like is also affirmed of the Roman Empire (Rev. 6:14) which the Jews constantly affirm to be intended by Edom in the prophets. And in our Saviour Christ’s prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem, Matthew 24, he sets it out by expressions of the same importance. It is evident then, that, in the prophetical idiom and manner of speech, by “heavens” and “earth,” the civil and religious state and combination of men in the world, and the men of them, are often understood. So were the heavens and earth that world which was then destroyed by the flood.(5)

Another Old Testament text, among many that could be mentioned, is Jeremiah 4:23–31, which speaks of the imminent fall of Jerusalem (587 B.C.) in similar language of decreation:

I looked on the earth, and behold, it was formless and void; and to the heavens, and they had no light. . . . For thus says the LORD, the whole land shall be a desolation [referring to the curse of Lev. 26:31–33; see its fulfillment in Matt. 24:15!], yet I will not execute a complete destruction. For this the earth shall mourn, and the heavens above be dark. . . .

From the very beginning, God’s covenant with Israel had been expressed in terms of a new creation: Moses described Israel’s salvation in the wilderness in terms of the Spirit of God hovering over a waste, just as in the original creation of heaven and earth (Deut. 32:10–11; cf. Gen. 1:2).(6) In the Exodus, as at the original creation, God divided light and darkness (Ex. 14:20), divided the waters from the waters to bring forth the dry land (14:21–22), and planted His people in His holy mountain (15:17). God’s miraculous formation of Israel was thus an image of Creation, a redemptive recapitulation of the making of heaven and earth. The Old Covenant order, in which the entire world was organized around the central sanctuary of the Jerusalem Temple, could quite appropriately be described, before its final dissolution, as “the present heavens and earth.”

The 19th-century expositor John Brown wrote: “A person at all familiar with the phraseology of the Old Testament scriptures knows that the dissolution of the Mosaic economy, and the establishment of the Christian, is often spoken of as the removing of the old earth and heavens, and the creation of a new earth and heavens. . . . The period of the close of the one dispensation, and the commencement of the other, is spoken of as `the last days’ and `the end of the world’; and is described as such a shaking of the earth and heavens, as should lead to the removal of the things which were shaken (Hag. 2:6; Heb. 12:26–27).”(7)

Therefore, says Owen, “On this foundation I affirm that the heavens and earth here intended in this prophecy of Peter, the coming of the Lord, the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men, mentioned in the destruction of that heaven and earth, do all of them relate, not to the last and final judgment of the world, but to that utter desolation and destruction that was to be made of the Judaical church and state”—i.e., the Fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.(8)

This interpretation is confirmed by St. Peter’s further information: In this imminent “Day of the Lord” which was about to come upon the first-century world “like a thief” (cf. Matt. 24:42–43; 1 Thess. 5:2; Rev. 3:3), “the elements will be destroyed with intense heat” (2 Peter 3:10; cf. v. 12). What are these elements? So-called “literalists” lightly and carelessly assume that the apostle is speaking about physics, using the term to mean atoms (or perhaps subatomic particles), the actual physical components of the universe. What these “literalists” fail to recognize is that although the word elements (stoicheia) is used several times in the New Testament, it is never used in connection with the physical universe! (In this respect, the very misleading comments of the New Geneva Study Bible on this passage violate its own interpretive dictum that “Scripture interprets Scripture.” For possible meanings of this term, it cites pagan Greek philosophers and astrologers—but never the Bible’s own use of the term!) Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of New Testament Words observes that while in pagan literature the word is used in a number of different ways (referring to the “four elements” of the physical world, or to the “notes” on a musical scale, or to the “principles” of geometry or logic), the New Testament writers use the term “in a new way, describing the stoicheia as weak and beggarly. In a transferred sense, the stoicheia are the things on which pre-Christian existence rests, especially in pre-Christian religion. These things are impotent; they bring bondage instead of freedom.”(9) Throughout the New Testament, the word “elements” (stoicheia) is always used in connection with the Old Covenant order. St. Paul used the term in his stinging rebuke to the Galatian Christians who were tempted to forsake the freedom of the New Covenant for an Old Covenant-style legalism. Describing Old Covenant rituals and ceremonies, he says “we were in bondage under the elements (stoicheia) of this world. . . . How is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements (stoicheia), to which you desire again to be in bondage? You observe days and months and seasons and years. . . .” (Gal. 4:3, 9–10). He warns the Colossians: “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the basic principles (stoicheia) of the world, and not according to Christ. . . . Therefore, if you died with Christ to the basic principles (stoicheia) of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations—‘Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle’” (Col. 2:8, 20–21). The writer to the Hebrews chided them: “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elements (stoicheia) of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food” (Heb. 5:12). In context, the writer to the Hebrews is clearly speaking of Old Covenant [elements that the book of Hebrews argues have passed away]—particularly since he connects it with the term oracles of God, an expression used elsewhere in the New Testament for the provisional, Old Covenant revelation (see Acts 7:38; Rom. 3:2). These citations from Galatians, Colossians, and Hebrews comprise all the other occurrences in the New Testament of that word “elements” (stoicheia). Not one refers to the “elements” of the physical world or universe; all are speaking of the “elements” of the Old Covenant system, which, as the apostles wrote just before the approaching destruction of the Old Covenant Temple in A. D. 70, was “becoming obsolete and growing old” and “ready to vanish away” (Heb. 8:13). And St. Peter uses the same term in exactly the same way. Throughout the Greek New Testament, the word “elements” (stoicheia) always means [covenantal elements], not [physical elements]; the foundational “elements” of a religious system that was doomed to pass away in a fiery judgment [Matt. 22:7].

In fact, St. Peter was quite specific about the fact that he was not referring to an event thousands of years in their future, but to something that was already taking place:

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements (stoicheia) will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things are being dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements (stoicheia) are being melted with fervent heat? (2 Pet. 3:10–12)

Contrary to the misleading renderings of translators blinded by their presuppositions, St. Peter insists that the dissolution of “the present heaven and earth”—the Old Covenant system with its obligatory rituals and bloody sacrifices—was already beginning to occur: the “universe” of the Old Covenant was coming apart, never to be revived:

When did prophet and vision cease from Israel? Was it not when Christ came, the Holy one of holies? It is, in fact, a sign and notable proof of the coming of the Word that Jerusalem no longer stands, neither is prophet raised up, nor vision revealed among them. And it is natural that it should be so, for when He that was signified had come, what need was there any longer of any to signify Him? And when the Truth had come, what further need was there of the shadow? . . . And the kingdom of Jerusalem ceased at the same time, kings were to be anointed among them only until the Holy of holies had been anointed.(10)

St. Peter’s message, John Owen argues, is that “the heavens and earth that God himself planted—the sun, moon, and stars of the judaical polity and church—the whole old world of worship and worshippers, that stand out in their obstinacy against the Lord Christ—shall be sensibly dissolved and destroyed.”(11)

As we have seen, Puritan theologian John Owen, the author of the seven-volume commentary on the book of Hebrews, argued that the teaching of 2 Peter 3 about the coming “Day of the Lord” was not about the end of the physical universe, but of the Old Covenant and the nation of Israel. He points out that the phrase “heavens and earth” is often used in the Old Testament as a symbolic expression for God’s covenantal creation, Israel (see Isa. 51:15–20; Jer. 4:23–31). Owen writes: “the heavens and earth that God himself planted—the sun, moon, and stars of the judaical polity and church—the whole old world of worship and worshippers, that stand out in their obstinacy against the Lord Christ—shall be sensibly dissolved and destroyed.”(12)

Owen offers two further reasons (“of many that might be insisted on from the text,” he says) for adopting the A.D. 70 fulfillment of 2 Peter 3. First, he observes, “whatever is here mentioned was to have its particular influence on the men of that generation.”(13) That is a crucial point, which must be clearly recognized in any honest assessment of the apostle’s meaning. St. Peter is especially concerned that his first-century readers remember the apostolic warnings about “the last days” (vv. 2–3; cf. 1 Tim. 4:1–6; 2 Tim. 3:1–9). During these times, the Jewish scoffers of his day, clearly familiar with the Biblical prophecies of judgment, were refusing to heed those warnings (vv. 3–5). He exhorts his readers to live holy lives in the light of this imminent judgment (vv. 11, 14); and it is these early Christians who are repeatedly mentioned as actively “looking for and hastening” the judgment (vv. 12, 13, 14). It is precisely the nearness of the approaching conflagration that St. Peter cites as a motive to diligence in godly living!

An obvious objection to such an exposition is to refer to what is probably the most well-known, most-misunderstood text in St. Peter’s brief epistle: “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Pet. 3:8). This means, it is said, that “God’s arithmetic is different from ours,” so that when Scripture uses terms like “near” and “shortly” (e.g., Rev. 1:1, 3) or “at hand” (e.g., James 5:5–7), it doesn’t intend to give the impression of soon-approaching events, but of events possibly thousands of years in the future! Milton Terry refuted this seemingly plausible but spurious theory:

The language is a poetical citation from Psalm 90:4, and is adduced to show that the lapse of time does not invalidate the promises of God. . . . But this is very different from saying that when the everlasting God promises something shortly, and declares that it is close at hand, He may mean that it is a thousand years in the future. Whatever He has promised indefinitely He may take a thousand years or more to fulfill; but what He affirms to be at the door let no man declare to be far away.(14)

J. Stuart Russell wrote with biting disdain:

Few passages have suffered more from misconstruction than this, which has been made to speak a language inconsistent with its obvious intention, and even incompatible with a strict regard to veracity.

There is probably an allusion here to the words of the Psalmist, in which he contrasts the brevity of human life with the eternity of the divine existence. . . . But surely it would be the height of absurdity to regard this sublime poetic image as a calculus for the divine measurement of time, or as giving us a warrant for wholly disregarding definitions of time in the predictions and promises of God.

Yet it is not unusual to quote these words as an argument or excuse for the total disregard for the element of time in the prophetic writings. Even in cases where a certain time is specified in the prediction, or where such limitations as ‘shortly,’ or ‘speedily,’ or ‘at hand’ are expressed, the passage before us is appealed to in justification of an arbitrary treatment of such notes of time, so that soon may mean late, and near may mean distant, and short may mean long, and vice versa. . . .

It is surely unnecessary to repudiate in the strongest manner such a non-natural method of interpreting the language of Scripture. It is worse than ungrammatical and unreasonable, it is immoral. It is to suggest that God has two weights and measures in His dealings with men, and that in His mode of reckoning there is an ambiguity and variableness which will make it impossible to tell ‘What manner of time the Spirit of Christ in the prophets may signify’[cf. 1 Pet. 1:11]…

The Scriptures themselves, however, give no countenance to such a method of interpretation. Faithfulness is one of the attributes most frequently ascribed to the ‘covenant-keeping God,’ and the divine faithfulness is that which the apostle in this very passage affirms. . . . The apostle does not say that when the Lord promises a thing for today He may not fulfill His promise for a thousand years: that would be slackness; that would be a breach of promise. He does not say that because God is infinite and everlasting, therefore He reckons with a different arithmetic from ours, or speaks to us in a double sense, or uses two different weights and measures in His dealings with mankind. The very reverse is the truth. . . .

It is evident that the object of the apostle in this passage is to give his readers the strongest assurance that the impending catastrophe of the last days were on the very eve of fulfillment. The veracity and faithfulness of God were the guarantees of the punctual performance of the promise. To have intimated that time was a variable quantity in the promise of God would have been to stultify and neutralize his own teaching, which was that ‘the Lord is not slack concerning His promise.’(15)

Continuing his analysis, John Owen cites 2 Peter 3:13: “But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” Owen asks: “What is that promise? Where may we find it?” Good question. Do you know the answer? Where in the Old Testament does God promise a New Heaven and Earth? Incidentally, this raises a wider, fascinating issue: When the New Testament quotes or cites an Old Testament text, it’s often a good idea to hunt down the original citation, see what it meant in its original context, and then see the “spin” the New Testament writer places on it. (For example, Isaiah’s prophecy of a gigantic highway-construction project [Isa. 40:3–5] is not interpreted literally in the New Testament, but metaphorically, of the preaching ministry of John the Baptist [Luke 3:4–6]. And Isaiah’s prophecy of a “golden age” when the wolf dwells peaceably with the lamb [Isa. 11:1–10] is condensed and cited by St. Paul as a present fulfillment, in the New Covenant age [Rom. 15:12])! But John Owen, this Puritan scholar, knows his Bible better than most of the rest of us, and he tells us exactly where the Old Testament foretells a “new heaven and earth”:

What is that promise? Where may we find it? Why, we have it in the very words and letter, Isaiah 65:17. Now, when shall this be that God will create these “new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness”? Saith Peter, It shall be after the coming of the Lord, after that judgment and destruction of ungodly men, who obey not the gospel, that I foretell. But now it is evident, from this place of Isaiah, with chapter 66:21–22, that this is a prophecy of gospel times only; and that the planting of these new heavens is nothing but the creation of gospel ordinances, to endure forever. The same thing is so expressed in Hebrews 12:26–28.(16)

Owen is right on target, asking the question that so many expositors fail to ask: Where had God promised to bring “new heavens and a new earth”? The answer, as Owen correctly states, is only in Isaiah 65 and 66—passages which clearly prophesy the period of the Gospel, brought in by the work of Christ. According to Isaiah himself, this “New Creation” cannot possibly be the eternal state, since it contains birth and death, building and planting (65:20–23). The “new heavens and earth” promised to the Church comprise the age of the New Covenant—the Gospel’s triumph, when all mankind will come to bow down before the Lord (66:22–23). John Bray writes: “This passage is a grand description of the gospel age after Christ came in judgment in 70 A.D. and took away the old heavens and the old earth. We now have the new heavens and the new earth of the gospel age.”(17) St. Peter’s encouragement to the Church of his day was to be patient, to wait for God’s judgment to destroy those who were persecuting the faith and impeding its progress. “The end of all things is at hand,” he had written earlier (1 Pet. 4:7). John Brown commented:

“The end of all things” here is the entire end of the Jewish economy in the destruction of the temple and city of Jerusalem, and the dispersal of the holy people. That was at hand; for this epistle seems to have been written a very short while before these events took place. . . . It is quite plain that in our Lord’s predictions, the expressions “the end” and probably “the end of the world” are used in reference to the entire dissolution of the Jewish economy (cf. Matt. 24:3, 6, 14, 34; Rom. 13:11–12; James 5:8–9).(18)

Once the Lord came to destroy the scaffolding of the Old Covenant structure, the New Covenant Temple would be left in its place, and the victorious march of the Church would be unstoppable. According to God’s predestined design, the world will be converted; the earth’s treasures will be brought into the City of God, as the Paradise Mandate (Gen. 1:27–28; Matt. 28:18–20) is consummated (Rev. 21:1–27).

This is why the apostles constantly affirmed that the age of consummation had already been implemented by the resurrection and ascension of Christ, who poured out the Holy Spirit. St. Paul, writing of the redeemed individual, says that “if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). St. John, recording his vision of the redeemed culture, says the same thing: “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth. . . . The first things have passed away. . . . Behold, I am making all things new” (Rev. 21:1–5). The writer to the Hebrews comforts his first-century readers with the assurance that they have already arrived at “the City of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Heb. 12:22; cf. Gal. 26–28; Rev. 21). Even as the old “heaven and earth” were being shaken to rubble, the early Christians were “receiving a Kingdom which cannot be shaken,” the eternal Kingdom of God brought in by His Son (Heb. 12:26–28). Milton Terry has written:

The language of 2 Pet. 3:10–12 is taken mainly from Isa. 34:4, and is limited to the parousia, like the language of Matt. 24:29. Then the Lord made “not only the land but also the heaven” to tremble (Heb. 12:26), and removed the things that were shaken in order to establish a kingdom which cannot be moved.(19)

It is crucial to note that the apostle continually points his readers’ attention, not to events that were to take place thousands of years in the future, but to events that were already beginning to take place. Otherwise, his closing words make no sense at all: “Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless. . . . You, therefore, beloved, since you know these things beforehand, beware lest you fall from your own steadfastness. . .” (2 Pet. 3:14–17). If these things refer to a 21st-century thermonuclear holocaust, why would the inspired apostle direct such a serious exhortation against “falling from steadfastness” to thousands of readers who would never live to see the things he foretold? A cardinal rule of Biblical interpretation is that Scripture must interpret Scripture; and, particularly, that the New Testament is God’s own inspired commentary on the meaning of the Old Testament.

Once the old had been swept away, St. Peter declared, the Age of Christ would be fully established, an era “in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet. 3:13). The distinguishing characteristic of the new era, in stark contrast to what preceded it, would be righteousness—increasing righteousness, as the Gospel would be set free in its mission to the nations. There have been many battles throughout Church history, of course, and many battles lie ahead. But these must not blind us to the very real progress that the Gospel has made and continues to make in the world. The New World Order of the Lord Jesus Christ has arrived; and, according to God’s promise, the saving knowledge of Him will fill the earth, as the waters cover the sea (Isa. 11:9).Endnotes:

  1. Gordon H. Clark, II Peter: A Short Commentary (Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1975), 64.()
  2. Jay E. Adams, Trust and Obey: A Practical Commentary on First Peter (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1978), 129–130. Adam Clarke (1762–1832) writes the following in his commentary on 1 Peter 4:7: “Peter says, The end of all things is at hand; and this he spoke when God had determined to destroy the Jewish people and their polity by one of the most signal judgments that ever fell upon any nation or people. In a very few years after St. Peter wrote this epistle, even taking it at the lowest computation, viz., A. D. 60 or 61, Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. To this destruction, which was literally then at hand, the apostle alludes when he says, The end of all things is at hand; the end of the temple, the end of the Levitical priesthood, the end of the whole Jewish economy, was then at hand.” (Clarke’s Commentary on The New Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, 2 vols. [New York: Carlton & Porter, 1810], 2:864).()
  3. Peter J. Leithart, The Promise of His Appearing: An Exposition of Second Peter (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2004), 83.()
  4. For a defense of this position, see David Chilton, Paradise Restored: A Biblical Theology of Dominion, 2nd ed. (Horn Lake, MS: TX: Dominion Press, [1985] 2007), 112–122. The fact is that every time Scripture uses the term “last days” (and similar expressions) it means, not the end of the physical universe, but the period from A.D. 30 to A.D. 70—the period during which the Apostles were preaching and writing, the “last days” of Old Covenant Israel before it was forever destroyed in the destruction of the Temple (and consequently the annihilation of the Old Covenant sacrificial system) described by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24:1–34; Acts 2:16–21; 1 Tim. 4:1–3; 2 Tim. 3:1–9; Hebrews 1:1–2; 8:13; 9:26; James 5:7–9; 1 Peter 1:20; 4:7; 1 John 2:18; Jude 17–19). See also John Bray’s excellent booklet Are We Living in the Last Days? (Lakeland, FL: John L. Bray Ministry) and Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness: Obsession of the Modern Church, 4th ed. (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision 1999).()
  5. John Owen, “Providential Changes: An Argument for Universal Holiness,” in William H. Goold, ed., The Works of John Owen, 16 vols. (London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1965–68), 9:134.()
  6. See Chilton, Paradise Restored, 59.()
  7. John Brown, Discourses and Sayings of Our Lord, 3 vols. (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, [1852] 1990), 1:171f.()
  8. Owen, “Providential Changes: An Argument for Universal Holiness,” 9:134.()
  9. Gerhard Kittel and Gerhard Friedrich, eds., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, one-volume edition edited by Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1985), 1088.()
  10. St. Athanasius, On the Incarnation of the Word of God (New York: Macmillan, 1946), [40] 61f.()
  11. Owen, “Providential Changes: An Argument for Universal Holiness,” 9:135. ()
  12. Owen, “Providential Changes: An Argument for Universal Holiness,” 9:135.()
  13. Owen, “Providential Changes: An Argument for Universal Holiness,” 9:134.()
  14. Milton S. Terry, Biblical Hermeneutics: A Treatise on the Interpretation of the Old and New Testaments (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1974), 406.()
  15. J. Stuart Russell, The Parousia (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, [1887] 1983), 321ff. Owen, “Providential Changes: An Argument for Universal Holiness,” 134–35.()
  16. Owen, “Providential Changes: An Argument for Universal Holiness,” 9:134f.()
  17. John L. Bray, Heaven and Earth Shall Pass Away (Lakeland, FL: John L. Bray Ministry), 26.()
  18. Quoted in Roderick Campbell, Israel and the New Covenant (Philadelphia, PA: Presbyterian and Reformed, [1954] 2010), 107.()
  19. Terry, Biblical Hermeneutics, 489.()
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About the Author

Gary is a graduate of Western Michigan University (1973) and earned his M.Div. at Reformed Theological Seminary in 1979. He is the author of countless essays, news articles, and more than 27 book titles, His most recent book is Exposing the Real Last Days Scoffers. Gary lives in Marietta, Georgia, with his wife, Carol. They have two married sons and four grandchildren, Gary and Carol are members of Midway Presbyterian Church (PCA).



42 Responses to What Does Peter Mean by the Passing Away of Heaven and Earth? A Study of 2 Peter 3

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  2. Tom Harkins says:

    Kerry, I had occasion to complete reading the Kik book, An Escatology of Victory, since my last posting, and had some more thoughts as a result (quite a few!). I am “pasting” here an email that I sent to my friend who recommended the book, in response to his postmillenial views:

    First, by happenstance I ran across another “end times” passage in Luke 17:22-37 (NIV), which seems to support the “ellipses” argument I was making (even though Kik is very convincing as to “all” being fulfilled in “this generation” in Matt. 24:34):

    22 Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. 23 Men will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. 24 For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.

    26 “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.

    28 “It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. 29 But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.

    30 “It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. 31 On that day no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. 32 Remember Lot’s wife! 33 Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. 34 I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. 35 Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.”

    37 “Where, Lord?” they asked.

    He replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.”

    It can be seen here that, according to Kik’s understanding of Matt. 24, there is a “mix” of 70 AD and “Second Coming” material that essentially “runs together” in this Luke passage. Verses 31 and 37 would relate to 70 AD, according to Kik, while the rest primarily to the Second Coming. This suggests that either Jesus DID use some ellipses in “prophesying,” or that some of the same events prophesied as to 70 AD are “paralleled” in “end times” prophesies. So I think either there are “ellipses” or there are “parallel” or “dual” fulfillments of prophesy, including by Jesus.

    Second, Kik essentially agrees with me that Satan will be “let loose” for a “short time” at the end of earthly history before the Second Coming culmination. Rev. 20:3, 7-10. However, this seems inconsistent with his simultaneous position that there will be no “signs” of the Second Coming drawing nigh due to Matt. 24:36-25:30. Although he makes a good argument that this “return” of Satan to sway the nations to battle the saints is “spiritual” persecution rather than via “armies,” nevertheless, I think that if we see the world “going to hell in a hand basket,” so to speak (where did that saying come from?), then surely this will give us some strong indication that the end is about here, especially so if we see a large portion of the ostensibly “Christian” church (visible) slipping into apostasy during that same period. This would also fit with my argument of the pattern of great distress being followed by great deliverance repeatedly in Scripture (Noah; Lot; children of Israel in Egypt; numerous instances in Judges and under Israel and Judah’s kings; most importantly Christ’s agony of crucifixion, followed not only by his resurrection, but accomplishment of our “release” and “salvation” eternally), so why not at the end as well?

    Third, if there will be SOME sign of the Second Coming, why cannot there be more than one? Romans 11:1-31, in my estimation (could be wrong), suggests a “hardening” of the Gentiles leading to a spiritual revival of the Jews at the end, just as there was a spiritual revival of the Gentiles due to the hardening of the Jews at the outset. See v.25-27. I think the restoration of the Jewish state, combined with the evident hardening of the Church where formerly strong (Western Europe and U.S.), may be indicative that this event is drawing nigh as well. (I admit this conclusion is not “self evident.”)

    As another possible “sign,” I am still not convinced that 2 Thess. 2:1-12 speaks of 70 AD as opposed to the “end of history.” In Thess. 4:13-5:11, CLEARLY Paul is speaking of the Parousia. In his “follow-up” letter, he seems to be correcting some false teaching that had grown up with respect to what he previously taught. See 2 Thess. 2:1-3. He then explains that first there must be an apostasy and the man of sin revealed. I realize that there were “false teachings” in the pre-70 AD period, as Kik points out. Nonetheless, there may certainly be “parallels” between different “comings” of the Lord in judgment (as the Second Coming will be for the enemies of God) and deliverance (for the saints), so this apostasy in 2 Thess. 2:3 may very well speak of the one at the end of time. I also note something I overlooked before that seems to strengthen this conclusion. In v.7, Paul states, “For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but THE ONE WHO NOW HOLDS IT BACK WILL CONTINUE TO DO SO TILL HE IS TAKEN OUT OF THE WAY.” (KVJ). Pre-trib’ers use this as a reference to the Holy Spirit being taken away at the Rapture, a position I stoutly oppose. Instead, however, this sounds very analogous to Rev. 20:1-3, 7-10, where Satan is BOUND until his RELEASE for a “short time” at the end (which Kik and I agree will happen). “And then shall that Wicked be revealed.” v.8 (KJV). Under this exegesis, the reference to the man of sin on the heels of or contemporaneously with the apostasy, JUST AFTER the “restraint” on the “power of lawlessness” being “taken out of the way,” suggests an “Antichrist” (or use some other tem) “leading the way” in the final fight against the saints, as empowered and directed by Satan (which is also consistent with some passages in Revelation, such as Chapter 13).

    How is all this consistent with no one knowing the day or the hour? First of all, having SOME sign or another CANNOT be inconsistent with this analysis under either Kik’s view or mine, because we both agree Satan will be released for a short time at the end of history just before the Second Coming. Surely that will be a NOTICEABLE war between Satan and his minions and the Church. Similarly, if my exegesis of Romans 11 is correct, there will have to be ANOTHER sign as well, the salvation of the Jews (substantially). I don’t think Jesus can come at just “any ole time”; the prophesies have to be fulfilled, just as with the First Coming. However, (a) the children of darkness will have “no clue,” as they are “blinded” in their “darkness”; as far as they are concerned, things will continue just as they did from the beginning of time (for them, Big Bang). See 2 Peter 3:3-4. God will send them “a strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” 2 Thess. 2:11. However, in 1 Thess. 5:1-8 (NIV), Paul makes a distinction between the children of light and the children of darkness in this regard:

    1 Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

    4 BUT YOU, BROTHERS, ARE NOT IN DARKNESS SO THAT THIS DAY SHOULD SURPRISE YOU LIKE A THIEF. 5 You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.

    Following my parallelism understanding, I think Matt. 24:32-33 has a “dual fulfillment”—we can “see the day approaching” both as to the Temple’s destruction (70 AD) and the earth’s destruction (date unknown). Carrying on the parallelism a step further, though, as Kik points out, while the gospel had spread to “the whole world” before 70 AD according to some statements of Paul, this may be understood as the whole KNOWN world of the time, or a GENERALIZATION (it seems doubtful South America was preached to by that time, for example—indeed, until Christopher Columbus, the “eastern world” did not even know the Americas existed). At the “end of time” (parallel or ultimate fulfillment or ellipses), “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the WHOLE world as a testimony to ALL nations, and then the end will come.” Matt. 24:14 (NIV).

    Despite these “signs,” (1) obviously there is at least some figurative language used in virtually all apocalyptic portions of scripture (and may be to some extent in Paul’s descriptive references to the “man of sin” or “that Wicked” in 2 Thess. 2:3-10), and (2) we still don’t know what “day” or “hour” these things will all be culminated. How can we know, for example, when the last person that God has in mind to be preached to will hear? Also, since as Kik points out, Rev. 20:8-9 may be figurative of Satan rousing all those of the darkened world to “surround” those of the faith to “crush” them SPIRITUALLY, as opposed to all the world’s armies converging on the nation/state of Israel PHYSICALLY (considering in particular how largely figurative most of Revelation is in general), we won’t exactly know when Satan’s “crushing attempt” has been completed. All we will know is that “when we see all these things, we know that it is near, right at the door.” Matt. 24:33 (NIV paraphrased). And it is still possible for us even as saints to be caught “unaware” and not be acting as we should at the “day and hour” of our Lord’s return, and be “embarrassed” and “suffer loss” as a result.

    A couple of other notes: I don’t agree with Kik that Revelation 21-22 relates to the present earth, figurative of the “new birth” of believers, as opposed to “a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.” Rev. 21:1. See 2 Peter 3:12-13. The fact that Revelation Chapters 21-22 follow directly on the heels of the Final Judgment and the division of the saints from the lost into heaven and hell in Chapter 20 bolsters this conclusion substantially. Also, Kik falls into the same “trap” of taking everything “literally” with respect to the “heavenly vision” here, while he insists on everything being “figurative” in Revelation almost everywhere else. A number of passages in these chapters are consistent with the eternal state and not the earthly (such as “no more death or mourning or crying or pain,” 21:4.) “IT IS DONE.” 21:6. (Comparable to IT IS FINISHED on the Cross.) The only possible reason to ascribe this passage to the state of the saints on earth is, I believe, that Jesus says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” in 22:20. Again, this goes back to my same point that this must be considered in context, and that the best statement of the “context,” as I have repeatedly noted, comes in 2 Peter 3:7-13. God is not slow in keeping his promise.

    Finally, and this is probably the ULTIMATE difference between Kik’s theology and mine, I don’t see there being a “Christianizing” of the earth in the interim between the First and Second Coming. I think that as different portions of the earth become more and more populated by believers, certainly that will improve the conditions there, as with the Welsh revival and others. However, there are always “ebbs and flows” in that regard (just yesterday a visiting preacher who is a missionary in Wales said the estimate of Christians in Wales is less than 1 ½ % now). The only place I know of in the NT where someone could pull out a mandate to “change the world itself” (as opposed to “bringing in the saints and making them more saintly”), is a reading of Matt. 28:19-20 (Great Commission), THE VERY SAME PASSAGE I RELY ON. The NIV reads: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name . . ..” v. 19. I understand this “of” to mean “from,” or “out of,” not that the “nations themselves” will be disciples. Only individuals can be “baptized,” not nations. Rev. 7:9 says, “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, FROM every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne . . ..” (NIV). The triumph of the Church age (the millennium) is that of the saints prevailing SPIRITUALLY in accomplishing that advancement of “God’s kingdom on earth” SPIRITUALLY. That kingdom is SPIRITUAL instead of PHYSICAL (as Kik himself frequently notes that passages should be read that way (thrones, and so forth), yet he nonetheless seems to read many of the OT prophesies of the “kingdom” as being “literal”).

    (As a side note, to the extent Kik says amillennialists believe in the triumph of “disembodied souls” in the “intermediate state” during the Church age, I of course do not believe that. So I guess I am a “sui generis” case!)

    In short: In my opinion there is enough biblical evidence to support the conclusion that the time of the end will be a terrible one (at least in terms of substantial persecution of Christians, whether physical or “psychological/spiritual,” which, I submit, we should be “prepared” for), and perhaps there will be some “world ruler” who will “head this up,” under whatever “title” may be appropriate (“Man of Sin,” “Lawless One,” “Beast,” “Antichrist,” or whatever). In my opinion, this relates to Satan being released for a “short time” at the end of the “reign” of the saints in successfully propagating the gospel throughout the whole world. Rev. 20:3, 7-10. See Rev. Chapter 13. Certainly vast portions of formerly sound branches of Christendom seem to be “falling away” (homosexuals being ordained, and conducting homosexual marriages, for example). I think this “Day” of the Second Coming is best “advanced” by substantial support for world missions (which is in large measure being undertaken). Also, vastly so now than ever before, many are running to and fro and knowledge is increasing so fast it is almost impossible to keep up with (one of Daniel’s prophecies of the end, Daniel 12:4 (see v.1-4 for context). However, I also believe the Jews are supposed to be saved in large numbers once “the fullness of the Gentiles has come in,” Romans 11, which does not appear to have happened as of yet. So, I think there are plenty of “signs” that the time is “drawing nigh,” but the Second Coming is “not yet.”

    “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ . . . Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” Rev. 22:17, 20 (NIV). Surely this plaintive plea to Christ, echoed by the Spirit himself, to “come” CANNOT refer to “please hurry up and destroy the temple in Jerusalem.” Therefore, when John quotes Jesus as saying, “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon,’” v.20 (NIV), we must be able to see this in light of 2 Peter 3:8—“But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (KJV). “THE LORD IS NOT SLOW IN KEEPING HIS PROMISE, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” v.9 (NIV). Therefore, this fits exactly with Jesus saying in Matt. 24:14, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and THEN shall the end come.” (KJV). (Not, the destruction of the temple, but the end of ALL. Eternity awaits us.)

    Tom

  3. Tom Harkins says:

    Kerry, I understand that you might not respond further, and I have doubtless “overworked” the matter, but after all this I this I thought I should give one last shot, because I feel this is a very important issue. Pretrib’ers believe we will get off the hook of any bad times to come. Postmill’s think we should devote considerable effort to improving society. I believe (whether this is technically an amill’ or not, I am not certain) that our efforts should be primarily directed toward bringing all the saints into the kingdom and making them better saints, Matt. 28:19-20, regardless of what is going on in the “world at large.” I think we should expect a very bad time at the end in terms of persecution and perhaps other respects, and that we need to be prepared to go through it. So, what one believes about the “end times” does have some practical significance, which is, I guess, a major part of why I am so passionate on these issues.

    It seems to me that your position (forgive me if I am misstating it) is that all (or virtually all) NT prophesies must relate to 70 AD because SOME references in SOME of these prophesies use terms like “quickly” or “soon” or “in this generation,” no matter how much the prophesies otherwise might look like they related to the actual “end” of the “end times” (i.e., just before Christ’s physical return in the Second Advent). I think this is wrong on two counts. First, not ALL of the prophesies I rely on have such language. Thus, SOME of the NT prophesies could relate to the “end” even if others may not. Second, I think too much emphasis is being placed on those terms in a “literal” sense (and not even being quite sure what a “literal” interpretation of the terms actually indicates).

    Let me start with the second point first. In Mark’s gospel, he continually uses terms such as “immediately,” “straightway,” and “forthwith,” even though we know that some time frequently transpired between the events he is speaking of, as shown, in some instances, by the other two synoptic writers. That apparently was Mark’s “writing style.” We should not try to take it to “literally.” Also, in the OT prophesies, we see references to “in that day,” “in the same day,” etc., which do not refer to events transpiring on “literally” the same “day.” Isaiah 7:18-25 (KJV), for one example. Third, even in OT prophesies there is a “mix” of things that will take place long afterward with things which will take place “right away” even in the same “paragraph,” on occasion. Thus, in Isaiah 7:13-17, Isaiah prophesies both of Christ’s miraculous birth (a long time in coming) and “immediately” following events virtually in the same breath! It is very difficult to see where the one ends and the other begins. In fact, some interpret this particular instance by referring to “dual fulfillments,” one as to the virgin birth referencing Christ, and another referring to a son to Isaiah would have (see Isaiah 8:3-4). Why cannot these same types of (a) “language usage,” and (b) OT characteristics of prophesy, also be true of NT prophesies as well? I know of no reason why they cannot. I am actually sure they ARE.

    I am reading, at the request of one of my postmill’ friends, a book by a prominent postmill’, Kik’s Eschatology of Victory. In that text, he references “ellipses,” where the speaker makes a “parenthetical” diversion to a different point while he is primarily talking about another. I agree with that. However, I don’t see why that should not “cut both ways,” in favor of my own interpretations of some of these passages. Thus, in Matt. 24, Jesus gives the famous “this generation” statement in v.34, and Kik interprets this to mean that everything Jesus has said in the verses before that must relate to that “this generation” statement. However, this ignores his own interpretative tool of elipses. In verses 30-31 (at a minimum), we see a prophesy that, were it not for the “this generation” statement, anyone would attribute to the “literal” Second Advent of Christ. “And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.” v.31. See 1 Thess. 4:16-17 for Paul’s prophesy of this exact same event, in a passage impossible to interpret any other way than the Second Advent (see v.13-18 for the context). How do we reconcile that with “this generation”? By considering that Christ (like the OT prophets) used an “ellipsis” (there were no punctuation marks back then) to refer to the Second Coming in the midst of some other prophesies relating to the destruction of the temple. After all, the disciples asked him, “when will this happen [not one stone of the temple will be left on another], AND what will be the sign of YOUR COMING and of the END OF THE AGE?” Matt. 24:3 (NIV). Obviously Jesus was answering THE ENTIRETY of the disciples’ question in his response, not just when the temple would be torn down. Therefore, just as we must with OT prophesies, we have to “parse” a bit to see which relates to what.

    That aside, there is absolutely no reason to conclude that every NT prophesy has to relate to 7o AD even if you take SOON and QUICKLY absolutely “literally” (How “soon” is “soon,” for example, unless you know the context? Does it mean, “in a few minutes,” or “early this week,” or “early this month,” or what–you cannot know without considering the context of the statement. And, Peter GIVES us the “context” when he explains that the Lord “is not slow in keeping his promise” in 2 Peter 3:8-9.) Regardless of such passages, there are a number of others which do NOT use such language which again, on their face, would seem to refer to events related to the Second Advent (not some “intermediate ‘symbolic’ coming”). There is nothing in 2 Thess. 2:1-12 which says anything about the events Paul is speaking of as coming “immediately.” In fact, he is saying that the Second Coming (literally, “our being gathered to him,” v.1, NIV) is NOT “going on” at that time”; but, instead, SOMETHING ELSE HAS TO HAPPEN BEFORE THAT WILL HAPPEN. And what is that? Twofold. There must be (1) “a falling away first” (v.3, KJV–”the apostasy comes first,” NAS); and then (2) the “man of sin be revealed,” v.3 (KJV). I cannot see any reason whatsoever for Paul to be talking about some 70 AD event when he is making this prophesy when he is speaking in terms of “our gathering together unto him,” v.1 (KJV). Therefore, regardless of all other passages or all other reasoning, it remains my opinion that “that Wicked [will] be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming,” v.8 (KJV), at the “very end,” i.e., at the time of HIS COMING, “literally” speaking (Second Advent).

    It has been a please debating this with you.

    Tom

    • Kerry says:

      Tom,
      The same to you. Because of our conversation, I had to rewrite my reference to John because I left out part of my sentence, and I’m not sure how that happened. I wouldn’t have noticed if you had not read the comment. I ended up using our conversation to create an article on my website about the “man of sin”. So, at the very least, it had a positive affect on my website, because someone else would have surely found that unfinished sentence.

      If you keep reading comments on this website, you will probably see my name again. Usually in a conversation about the timing of events in prophecy. Take care, and keep the good tone. There is nothing wrong with defending a position, but many people go beyond that into accusation and innuendo.

  4. Tom Harkins says:

    Kerry, thanks for responding to me. I should note that I also “flip-flopped” between “pre-trib, pre-mil” on the one hand and “amil” on the other in the past.

    Your email response is a bit more than I can respond to presently, but I will try to make a few points.

    At one point you say, “The term ‘the last hour’ is one of John’s favorite terms for the time of the resurrection and end of the age (John 6:44).” (Actually it says “the last day” there.) I think this cuts against your argument somewhat. To me, this would indicate that the “last hour” which John references in 1 John 2:18 must reach to or at least partly include “the resurrection and end of the age,” as you state it, in part. Those are obviously still in the future, not fulfilled in 70 AD.

    I do agree that many of the NT prophesies tie back to those of the OT. However, in Romans 11:25, Paul says (NIV): “I do not want you to be ignorant of this MYSTERY, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.” Clearly Paul was not speaking in terms of 70 AD with this prophesy. The context of his passage in Romans 11 is that the Jews’ hardening was to lead to the Gentiles’ salvation, but, read together with the same Paul’s prophesy in 2 Thess. 2, particularly v. 3, “a falling away first” (KJV), or “the apostasy” (NAS) (I don’t agree with the NIV translation of that passage), the Gentiles will be “hardened” at the end, which in turn will lead to the Jews’ salvation. “And so all Israel will be saved.” Romans 11:26.

    So, under this view, either some of the OT prophesies must also relate to “the time of the end,” not 70 AD or the end of the Roman empire; or, alternatively, Paul is setting out some NEW “mystery,” as opposed to something previousy “revealed.” We have not yet seen the “full” hardening of the Gentiles (though, current events would certainly seem to be moving in that direction), nor a turning of Israel to God. Consequently, there is at least ONE prophesy YET TO BE FULFILLED before Christ returns. Therefore, it remains an open question whether SOME OTHER of the prophesies, whether OT or NT or both, may ALSO relate to a “later” fulfillment than 70 AD (or the fall of the Roman empire) (even though I would agree with you that some do relate to 70 AD, and other dates–fall of the Roman empire–such as many of Daniel’s prophesies).

    I want to note that I don’t think the Pope is the Antichrist, or that the “beast” is Europe, or any of those things. I think, to the best of my understanding (recognizing that I have been wrong before, and could be again), that Paul’s “prophesy” in 2 Thess. 2:3-12 relates to the “actual end” of time, not the end of the “Jewish era” (as some view 70 AD to be). (Actually, I think the primary significance of 70 AD is that Jerusalem’s house is then left to her “desolate” because the Jews would not accept Christ, Matt. 23:37-38.) Notice there (2 Thess. 2) that Paul is refuting the idea that “the day of the Lord has come.” 2 Thess. 2:2 (NAS). He says that there are some events which have to happen first, BEFORE the day of the Lord comes, so that those he is speaking to will not “become easily unsettled or alarmed.” v.2 (NIV). Then he states that one primary thing which has to first occur is that this “man of sin be revealed. ” v.3.

    Consider for a moment the argument of those who say that Paul is here referring to, with respect to the “man of sin,” an event that happens in 70 AD. How will this assist those who are looking to that event as a “warning” that Jerusalem is about to be destroyed, so they can “get ready” for that, if the man of sin is only going to “set himself up in God’s temple” in that SAME 70 AD episode. This gives no “time to prepare” at all. Consequently, we may rule out this man of sin sitting in the temple of God as something that happened in 70 AD to “let people know” that AFTER that happened, then the “day of the Lord” (i.e., supposedly, the destruction of Jerusalem) will come, as those would be SIMULTANEOUS events. “That day will not come,” v.2 (NIV) until AFTER the falling away and the man of sin being “revealed.” v.2 (KJV).

    Therefore, having ruled out this “man of sin” who “sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God,” v. 4 (KJV), as a 70 AD event, at what time IS (or, was) that event to occur? This is something I would like to hear from some historian, as personally from my limited understanding of Middle Eastern events I know of no one “sitting in the temple of God” (if understood to be the Herodian temple) by someone who claimed to be God at any p0int BETWEEN (a) when Paul spoke and (b) 70 AD. (Incidentally, I read yesterday by someone who HAS studied Israelite history that the Jews were not dispersed from Palestine until a LATER rebellion, not the one which resulted in the 70 AD destruction of the temple. Be that as it may . . ..)

    Since we know from Romans 11:25 that at least one (and doubtless more) of the NT prophesies relate IN PART to post 70 AD events (and at least some OT prophesy as well, since Paul references OT prophesy in Romans 11:26-27 in regard to what will be fulfilled by what he prophesies), I see no reason why what Paul prophesies in 2 Thess. 2:3-12 could not also relate to an “end of time” event. Indeed, Paul EXPRESSLY SAYS that he is talking about “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ AND OUR BEING GATHERED TO HIM.” v.1 (NIV). I think it is clear beyond any doubt that Paul HAS to be talking about something that happens just before when Christ PHYSICALLY returns in the Second Advent, because THAT will be when we are “gathered to him.” See 1 Thess. 4:17 (also by Paul to the same church).

    Therefore, at the “end of time” there will be some “man of sin” who was not some 70 AD personage. Paul describes in some detail what he will be like–quite likely so we will be able to recognize him, since he will be “revealed.” 2 Thess. 3. So, I think this leaves as the primary “puzzle” what Paul means by “the temple of God,” v.4. I admit to not knowing the answer to that. (I might point out, th0ugh, that Herod’s temple was NOT “God’s temple” (NIV) in 70 AD. It ceased to be such when Christ was crucified and rose again. That is why the veil of the temple was then torn in two, from top to bottom. So whatever is meant by this “person” sitting in “God’s temple” in this 2 Thess. 2 prophesy, it is not talking about someone sitting in HEROD’s temple, for all the reasons I have stated.) It remains to be seen what that “temple” does refer to. To me, it seems UNLIKELY that the Jews will build another temple in Jerusalem. Especially is this true if they are supposed to get saved at the end in large numbers, as Paul prophesies. Why would they then build a temple? So, we will just have to keep watching current events, with an “open mind,” to see just when and how Paul’s prophesy of what will happen just before we are gathered to the Lord upon his return will occur.

    Finally, I should note that your point that the prophesies all relate to the Jews is not quite correct, because some OT prophesies prophesy that the Gentiles too will come in. “A light unto the Gentiles.” Abraham was told, “Through you ALL THE NATIONS will be blessed.”

    Tom

    • Kerry says:

      Tom,
      This will probably be my last post on this subject. I am convinced of a past fulfillment.
      As relates to John 6:44, that verse is being used to show that the time of the end, is the resurrection, not the “last hour” . I could have worded that better. That verse is a clear reference to the last day, and the resurrection. The comment is not about the last hour, but it is used as a part of the imminent words of John. It doesn’t change the fact that John was the one who used the “last hour”, and that cannot be extrapolated 2000 years into the future.

      It is clear, very clear, that the events are past. The first and last chapters of Revelation state that the time is at hand, and these things were shortly to be done. That is the plain language of the text and they speak for themselves.

      Take care.

  5. Tom Harkins says:

    Kerry, in my comment of yesterday, replying to yours of the day before (mine shown under yours above), I focused on the two passages in 1 Thess. 2:1-12 and 1 John 2:18 that you had discussed (responsive to mine), with respect to whether there is a “final bad guy” (whether or not he is properly referred to by using the language from John as “the Antichrist”). I really find 2 Thess. 2:8 quite persuasive in that respect. But, even aside from finding specific verses of prophesy of this bad guy, to me it makes good sense to believe that there will be a final “leader” of the final “rebellion.” This would seem to be indicated in several passages in Revelation (although I readily agree that there is a lot of figurative language there). See Rev. 13 (following on from Rev. 12), 16:13-16 (with a “parenthetical” in v. 15, “Behold, I come like a thief!,” suggesting the Second Advent is in view); 19:11-21 (particularly 19-20), and 20:10.

    As best I recall, I think all three “schools” relating to the millennium agree as to a “final rebellion,” Rev. 20:7-10. Amillennialists, such as myself (though I don’t know enough about what other “amillenialists” believe to know if I exactly qualify or am “representing” their beliefs quite correctly), see the millenium which is “capped off” by this “rebellion” to be the “spiritual” advance of the Kingdom in the hearts and minds of believers, who steadily increase in number (though not “comparatively” with the total population) and personal holiness as we fulfill Christ’s Commission, Matt. 28:19-20. The “earthly” events during this millennium may go “back and forth” as far as politics and society are concerned, but I cannot believe there will be “steady upward progress” in that respect until the earth is “made ready” for Christ to descend. As I have noted, Jesus very clearly said few would be saved, and also we will be hated by “all men” for his name’s sake, and I believe it was Paul who said all who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecutaion. This hardly fits with some “increasing acceptance” of Christians as history unfolds. So, it seems perfectly reasonable to me to believe that the “final rebellion” will simply “cap off” the basic opposition to Jesus being the Son of God come in the flesh (which is “antichrist” in small letters), which was already underway in the days of the scripture writers and will never cease until the Lord returns in his Second Advent to put a permanent end to all this “rebellion.” This “makes sense” of there being a “final rebellion,” led by a “final rebel,” at the end of this “spiritual” millennium, as seems to be to be basically consistent with Rev. 20.

    Whereas, under either the postmillennial or premillennial “literal earthly Kingdom” views, I find it very hard to understand why, after the “earthly reign” of Christ on earth, there will then be some final “regrouping” of the enemies (why would there still be any, anyway, much less consisting of “the number of whom is as the sand of the sea,” Rev. 20:8?), to surround the saints and Jerusalem to “cap off” history before the final Judgment. It makes far more sense to see the “final battle” as the precursor to Christ’s Second Advent to destroy those “final rebels,” judge all rebels, and send them to their appropriate eternal reward (and us the same–but our reward will be heavenly). Rev. 20:7-15, (followed immediately by a description of Heaven in chapters 21-22).

    Well, I don’t want to ramble on any further and don’t have time to. Also, I do acknowledge there are still some verses and passages which give me some difficulty. However, I think my view just makes more “sense,” which is not always something to disregard in seeking the truth, especially when there is at least a fair body of scripture which gives that “common sense” understanding something to rest on.

    • Kerry says:

      Tom,
      Here are some comments to consider, and hopefully they answer some of objection, or points you made in response to me. However, a person need not engage each and every point. There are some issues that effectively counter everything. Incidentally, I once held similar views (Pre-Millennial- Pre-trib Rapture, and briefly Post-Millennial). I did not arrive where I am today from nowhere in relation to eschatology, so I understand, believe me. I come from a place of having to recant and change. I have been called many things, and have lost friends. Because of this, I try not to sound condescending or judgmental.

      It is not a puzzle to me Tom, and I think you should consider that the common sense interpretation is that the 2nd Temple in Jerusalem is in fact where the “man of sin” and the “antichrist” would appear. The only way around this puzzle is to have a “3rd” temple built for this to happen all over again in the future. You implied that some things did not make sense because the persecution would be happening all over again. All of the New Testament writers were only confirming Old Testament prophecies as being fulfilled, they were not writing new prophecies for us. The Apostle Paul would be very familiar with those prophecies, and Paul said he learned from Jesus Himself as did the other disciples. Also, Jesus said that they would be led into all truth. If you were present at the first reading or teaching regarding these warnings, and had read these letters in the 1st century, how would you have understood them? If you were there, Common sense would tell you that it would happen very soon, and you would see the Temple complex defiled and destroyed, and be in a very troubling time.

      Consider the following:

      Jesus said the “abomination of desolation” would happen in their generation. Daniels’ prophecy goes no further than the generation of the Messiah which during the Roman Empire. Daniel clearly states that the city would be destroyed because of abomination. It is also the time of the judgment by the Ancient of Days. The Kingdom of the Son of Man is installed, and the resurrection takes place in which Daniel will stand also.

      No matter what else we might think, Daniel 7 does not extend beyond the days of the Roman Empire, and that empire ended in 476 AD.

      Any view of the 10 kings in Daniel that seeks to extend the days of Rome into the future, to a future entity or world power, is distorting the text and clear historical timeframe.

      The Roman Empire does not exist today; therefore, the fulfillment of Daniel is not for our day.

      Jesus came to confirm the promises made to OT Israel (Romans 15:8).

      Jesus cites and utilizes Daniel repeatedly, including the prophecies of the coming of the Son of Man, and the judgment of the little horn. Jesus also makes it clear that the disciples should look for the “abomination that causes desolation” spoken of by Daniel, and that they would understand it. It was to be in the “holy place” which can only mean inside the Temple.

      In Jesus’ predictions of His coming in judgment (prophecies taken from and based on Daniel 7)—Jesus said he was returning in the first century, within the lifetime of His disciples. (Matthew 16:27-28 is definitive on this, as well as Matthew 24:29-34). He told His disciples they would face persecution.

      Jesus said that the OT prophets longed to see his generation (Matthew 13:17f). Fulfillment was in His day, not for us or a future “generation”.

      Paul preached nothing but the Hope of Israel, and his prophecy of the “man of sin” in 2 Thessalonians 2 proves that the man of sin was already alive at that time.

      Paul said the spirit of lawlessness “is” already at work then, in the 1st century.

      The restrainer was already at work. You cannot restrain something that is not present.

      No other world power or entity existed except Rome, and was being restrained when Paul wrote in approximately 51 AD. The only other authority recognized by Paul would have been the High Priest in Jerusalem. It was them (the Pharisees/priests) in collaboration with Rome that was working to persecute the “New Way”.

      Peter declared that all of the OT prophets predicted the first century generation in which he was living– Acts 3:21-24). A futurist view violates what Peter said.

      John said that the antichrist was already present, and the end was urgently imminent
      1 John 2:18—“Little children, it is the last hour. As you have heard that antichrist must come, even now there are many antichrists, thereby you know it is the last hour.”

      John appeals to well known prophecies of the appearance of the antichrist. John says those prophecies were being fulfilled in his day, and in his world. He says the presence of those antichrists proved that the end was near:

      The term “the last hour” is one of John’s favorite terms for the time of the resurrection and end of the age (John6:44).

      “It is the last hour” cannot be extrapolated into 2000 years and counting.

      In the Revelation we find the same kind of imminent warnings and statements. The fulfillment of Revelation was at hand and coming quickly (1:1-3).

      Notice that it was the Father, revealing the time for fulfillment (1:1).
      The mysterious city “Babylon” is the city “Where the Lord was slain” This can only be one geographical location, Jerusalem in the 1st century.

      In Matthew 20-23, Jesus identified Old Covenant Jerusalem as the city that had killed the prophets. They would kill him. They would kill his apostles and prophets. In doing so, they would fill the measure of their sin. Judgment would fall on them in that generation (Matthew 23:29-39).

      In 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16, that Paul says, Old Covenant Jerusalem had killed the prophets. They had killed Jesus. They were killing Jesus’ apostles and prophets. In doing so, they were filling the measure of their sin. Judgment was about to fall on them in that generation. Paul said to those believers then, that Jesus would avenge them, and bring trouble to those who were troubling them.

      In Revelation, Babylon had killed the prophets (16:6). She had killed the Lord (11:8). She was killing the apostles and prophets of Jesus (18:20-24). Her measure of sin was now full (17:6f). Judgment was about to fall on her and that the judgment was very near (22:6, 10-12).

      Where is the contextual justification for changing the identification of Babylon in Revelation from that which Jesus and Paul described? It is not America, the Roman Catholic Church, or the European Union.

      Paul said he and John preached the same gospel, if Revelation is speaking of something different from Paul, this presents a problem.

      Whoever or whatever a person claims is “Babylon”, if that proposed entity had not already (historically) done what Jerusalem is said to have done, and no other city in history has not, then that proposed entity cannot be the Babylon of Revelation.

      John, as most would agree, reiterates the prophecies of Daniel.

      Daniel was told to seal up the vision of his book, for the time of fulfillment was not near (12:4, 9-13). Fulfillment would not be in Daniel’s lifetime, so he was told to seal the vision It was approximately 500+ years from Daniel to John. John repeats Daniel’s prophecies, however, John was told “do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand.”

      Now, if it was a long time from Daniel to John, and as a result the vision was to be sealed, but, John was told not to seal the book because the fulfillment was near, then it therefore follows that fulfillment of

      Revelation cannot entail 2000 years, a period four times longer than it was from Daniel to John.
      The temporal contrast between Daniel and John cannot be ignored. The fulfillment of Revelation was so near that John wrote, “Let the wicked remain wicked, and let the righteous remain righteous still”. It was that close that a man might not be able to change his state of salvation.

      Any view of Revelation that extends the fulfillment of Revelation beyond that time of urgency is distorting the text. However long a person extends the fulfillment of Revelation, they must likewise extend the words: “Let the wicked remain wicked.” If Revelation has not been fulfilled, but awaits fulfillment today, why is the church not saying, “Let the wicked remain wicked.”?

      Those who argue that God does not see time as man cannot and do not, ever, deal with this verse (Revelation 22:11). In Revelation, it is the Father (who knew that day and hour of the parousia), who was declaring that the time of fulfillment was so near that the book was not to be sealed, and that fulfillment was so near that “let the wicked remain wicked.” It was that close.

      Did the Father lie? No, that is impossible. Did the Son lie? No, all judgment was committed to the Son. Jesus to believe Him because of the works He did. If Jesus didn’t do what He said He would do, and return in the lifetime and generation of his disciples, His not a prophet, and not to be believed.

      Did the Father not realize the inconsistency in telling Daniel that fulfillment was so far off that the vision was to be sealed, but, that fulfillment of those same prophecies was so near in Revelation that the book was not to be sealed? Not likely.

      How could the Father communicate that the fulfillment of Revelation so near that the message was “let the wicked remain wicked” all the while knew that it was going to be 2000 years + before it was fulfilled? This statement and others would not have made sense to the first readers of the Revelation.

      In Luke 21:8 Jesus said that many false prophets would come prematurely declaring “the end has drawn near, do not go after them.” John was present that day, and heard the warnings about believing or making premature declarations of the nearness of the end. Yet, here is John, being told by the Father, to make premature declarations of the nearness of the end. The disciples who asked Jesus for the signs would have been the experts on timing, not us 2000 years later.

      The fact is that any view of eschatology that removes fulfillment from the imminent framework of the first century and its Temple complex has to create distortions and puzzles.

      Any view of eschatology that removes fulfillment from the framework of the promises of Israel is false.
      One of the fundamental problems with taking the warnings to the readers, who lived in 1st century Jerusalem, is that it creates an eschatology that is totally unrelated to and divorced from Jerusalem, the Temple, and Israel, in her “last days”. The Bible is very clear that all eschatological promises have to do with Israel and her promises. Paul preached nothing but the hope of Israel (Acts 26:21f).

      Any eschatology that says that the end times is about the end of human history, and the destruction of the papacy, America, or some other future entity, and nothing to do with Israel and the end of her age, is distorting the plain language of the texts. Isaiah 65-66, Daniel 12, and other passages clearly affirm that the resurrection and judgment belongs to the end of Israel’s covenant world, in AD 70.
      Revelation is clearly about the final fulfillment of God’s Old Testament promises to Israel. Everything about Revelation tells us this. The language of Revelation is purely language of covenant and is clearly drawn from the language of Old Testament prophets, and specifically, the language of the Law. The curses of Revelation are taken directly from Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28-30– which are covenant curses on Israel for violation of The Law.

      There is something fundamentally wrong with our view of eschatology when/if we ignore this covenantal context, also ignore the plain language used for the imminent warnings, and create an eschatology having nothing to do with 1st century Israel, Jerusalem and the “last days”.

      This is my opinion so far. I am willing to amend it. I do not represent or speak for American Vision, and they may have a different interpretation on many of these things. I appreciate all your work in preparing what you wrote. It shows that you have studied and observed other interpretations without resorting to name calling and accusations. I commend you for that. I have not been treated as well by others. Thanks for the respect and tone you have shown me. Take care.

  6. Kerry says:

    In 2nd Thessalonians 2:4 it seems that Paul makes it clear that this individual would be making his appearance while the temple is still standing, and that the mystery of iniquity was already at work. It seems that Paul’s warning is for his contemporaries that would see this, and for them to beware. Also, I can only find two physical temples mentioned in the Bible.

    As far a the references to John’s epistles, 1 John 2:18 states that “they”, the anti-Christs were once with them (believers in Christ as the Messiah), and went out from them. It is possible that these men were Jews, and maybe some gentiles who reverted back to Judaism or pagan idolatry, and now rejected Jesus as the Messiah. John is also saying that it is the “last time”, and in another passage, “the last hour”, then, during his generation. John would have been warning believers then, and putting them in remembrance of Jesus warnings about the signs just before the coming judgment and time of trouble. In the Revelation, John says he is their companion in “tribulation”, in the first century.

    This is my opinion only, and I don’t claim to have it all nailed down. These are just my own conclusions at this time. Take care.

    • Tom Harkins says:

      Kerry, I was in the middle of responding to you and I hit a wrong button, and I don’t know where my comment went to, or if it disappeared into cyberspace. I don’t have time to repeat it all again, but surrounding passages in 2 Thess. 2 suggest that this “revelation” of the “man of sin” or “son of perdition,” v.3 (KJV), event has not occurred yet. Did some Roman person “set himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God?” v.4. Did this occur in 70 A.D., to correspond to Matt. 24:15, given Matt. 24:16-20 (assuming that is what those verses relate to)? Where is the historical proof of that? Recall also that Paul was seeking to reassure those he spoke to that the day of the Lord had not already come, 2 Thess. 2:2, by pointing out that the following events had to happen first. He does not say those events will happen right away, just that the Second Coming will not occur until they do.

      Also, did any Roman “conqueror” in 70 AD display “all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs, and wonders”? v.9 Was this “Roman” destroyed by the “spendlor of the Lord’s coming,” v.8, which would appear to be a reference to the Second Coming, and even if it was a “coming” of some other kind, was the “bad guy” demolished in some spectacular fashion? Any historical evidence? Further, Paul says that there must be “a falling away first.” Did that happen between when Paul wrote and 70 AD? I know of no such evidence–it seems the opposite occurred. While Paul does say that “the mystery of iniquity doth already work,” v.7 (KJV), I think this means only that the general “fight” against recognition of Jesus as God was already underway, not that the CULMINATION of such rebellion under the “Antichrist” (speaking colloquially) was “in the wings” already. So it appears to me Paul’s prophesy of “that Wicked,” v.8 (KJV) was not likely a 70 AD event (or in the interim); rather, more likely at the “end of time” just before Christ’s Second Coming in “splendor.”

      I do agree with you as to the “puzzle” of Paul referencing “God’s temple,” v.4; but, again, the whole “sequence of events” in 2 Thess. 2:3-11 would not appear to be any events which occurred in 70 AD, so whatever Paul had in mind as to “God’s temple” was not the Herodian one in this instance. Yet, as you say, and I concur as applying to me as well, “I don’t claim to have it all nailed down.”

      Finally, as to 1 John 2:18 & 19, it is important to note that John refers to TWO SEPARATE things: “the antichrist,” who “is coming” (i.e., not already there), and the “many antichrists,” who are already there. v.18. It is this “They” (the many) who “went out from us,” v. 19, not referring to “the,” who was not yet there.

      Thanks for replying to me. Hopefully “iron sharpens iron,” and all of us will move closer to correct understanding from these debates.

  7. Tom Harkins says:

    A correction. In my Comment of yesterday the citation to John’s reference to THE Antichrist should have been 1 John 2:18, not 1 John 18. While on the point, I recognize 1 John 4:3 and 2 John 7. However, 1 John 4:3 references the “spirit” of the antichrist; certainly anyone who denies that Jesus is of God is of the same “spirit” as THE antichrist (and therefore a “type” of the “archetype” Antichrist). Whereas, 2 John 7 is more problematic in using the terminology “the” antichrist (NAS & NIV, though KJV says “an”). Once again, however, clearly 2 John 7 refers to “many” deceivers, so they cannot all be “the” antichrist in the ultimate singular reference to one individual as indicated in 1 John 2:18. Consequently, the reference in 2 John 7 still makes better sense, comparable to the “parallels” of 1 John 2:18 and 1 John 4:3, as meaning “one of many,” as opposed to THE ultimate such figure, a la 1 John 2:18.

    Also, even aside from John in his letters, though the term “antichrist” has been borrowed colloquially from that passage to refer to such a final figure, there are still other references to a final leader of rebellion at the end of the age (total end of time), particularly 2 Thess. 2:3-10 (“man of lawlessness”), and, probably, references to either the beast or the false prophet in Revelation (see, particularly, Rev. 19:20 and 20:10 to suggest they are individual, personal figures, as opposed to merely symbolic, and that their destruction occurs at Christ’s physical Second Coming to consummate history). So even if my interpretation of 1 John 2:18 is incorrect, this does not mean there will not be some “final figure” of ultimate rebellion.

    Finally, even if I am wrong about the colloquially-referred-to-as-the “Antichrist” at the end of time (which I doubt), it still appears that as we move to the time of the “end of time,” there will be great trouble, as I have indicated before, and it does not appear from NT references that there will be a gradual upward progression of the Church “physically” or “politically” through the Church age, as opposed to via bringing in saints from “all over the world” and making disciples of them.

  8. John McGrew says:

    My apologies, everyone, besides some spelling errors, the citation from Josephus is from Wars, not

    Antiquities, what was I thinking of? Book VI, Chapter V, Section 3 to be slighty more exact. But of course, you could have found all that in the index.

  9. Tom Harkins says:

    Stephen, I am not on Face Book and don’t generally give out my e-mail address, so I will just give a brief response to your Comment, hopefully tied to the purpose of Gary’s Article so as to be pertinent. I think you are pointing out a perceived need for “validation” of one’s view of a particular scripture by other scripture (“two witnesses”). That is not always applicable, but certainly it helps support one’s conclusion. In that respect, I think my views about the nature of the “advance” of the Church through the Christian “age” as being mostly of a “spiritual” nature, almost constantly opposed by “the world, the flesh, and the Devil,” are validated by more than one scripture, as I cited several in my last Comment.

    As far as the time of the “end,” or “last days,” or the like, while acknowledging that such terms may have more than one application depending on the context, I think many of them can be taken “on their face” as referring to the actual “end of the age,” i.e., at or immediately leading up to the physical return of Christ. I also think this is borne out by more than one scripture, such as various portions (but not all) of Matthew 24 (as corroborated in part by the following “parables” in Matt. 25), 2 Thess. 2:1-11; 2 Peter 3; Daniel 12:1-4 (and perhaps some other of his prophesies in part, though clearly most relate to what was was going to happen in the “Middle East” through the conclusion of the Roman empire–including, I think, prophesy of Christ’s First Coming physically); and, of course, many portions of Revelation (albeit substantially figurative). As to my view of the “absence” of the pre-Tribulation “rapture” (as opposed to meeting Christ in the air as he descends to destroy the evil ones and consummate history, 1 Thess. 4:13-18), this is more difficult to find duplicate passages for, simply because there does not appear to be anything about it taught in scripture to need to be “refuted” in the first place.

    Finally, I believe that my view of the “end times” as being a time of trouble followed by the Lord’s return to “rescue” us is further bolstered by the “pattern” of hard times followed by deliverance shown several times in scripture, and in that sense “corroborated” by more than one passage. Consider this: Noah was rescued only after the world was so terrible that God had to destroy it; Lot was rescued only after Sodom and Gomorrah had gotten so bad God had to destroy them; Israel was rescued only after the Jews’ persecution as slaves had reached the breaking point, and the Egyptians and particularly their army were “destroyed” in the process. We might also say that we were “rescued” from being hell bound to heaven bound by Christ’s death and resurrection only after things had gotten so bad that the Jews killed the Messiah, the Son of God, whereupon they were destroyed (or Jerusalem, where he was killed, was, as well as the symbol of the Jewish faith, the Temple, were). Why should it be any different at the time of the FINAL “deliverance”? In other words, things getting so bad that Christians are crying out for relief (figuratively, the souls under the altar?), whereupon Christ returns to take us home, free from all troubles—not pre-Tribulation, but post-Tribulation—and finally and utterly destroys all those who are evil persecutors of the Church, including Satan himself.

    Therefore, I think that seeing the end as being a time of terrible trouble (actually, the culmination of frequent times of trouble throughout Church history (and including OT saints, Hebrews 11), but especially bad at the end)—and, in my opinion, and of course Gary disagrees, under the reign of the, perhaps “colloquially” referenced, “Antichrist,” based on 2 Thess. 2:1-12, primarily–i.e., “man of sin” or “man of lawlessness,” together with the references to either the beast or “false prophet” of Revelation, and John’s reference to “THE antichrist” in 1 John 18 (though there have been and are many “types” of him both in John’s day and throughout history–b0th they and “he” certainly do and will deny Christ is come in the flesh) is consistent with these other events in history leading up to God’s ultimate “deliverance.”

    Are there any “signs” that we are “almost” to this time of “terrible trouble”? I could not agree with Gary more that this has been the subject of rampant speculation and outlandish ideas and prophesies throughout Church history, and especially in the mid-20th Century. However, simply because people have been wrong, or even perhaps “diabolical” in terms of gathering a following and making a lot of money off of books, etc., does not mean there are no “true” signs or that it will be “impossible” to recognize them. There certainly seems to be a “falling away” and “hardening” of many who are “church” people happening presently, even to the extent of homosexual and lesbian priests and bishops, such as in the Episcopalean denomination. See 2 Thess. 2:3. Wars and rumors of wars are everywhere–everyone is “on pins and needles” as to when and where the next Muslim terrorist act will occur, for example. Matt. 24:6. Now, I would be the first to say that I don’t think we are “there” yet, Matt. 24:6 (“but the end is not yet”) (KJV), nor do I consider myself some sort of “prophet” about the subject. Yet, it does look to me as though the fig tree may very well be putting out some leaves. We will just have to wait and see.

    Finally in this regard, I don’t think any “revelation” of the Antichrist will be determined by such techniques as counting the letters in his name or a “close call” with death or other silly attempts. I think that (with humility should I be proven wrong) it will become “obvious”: Paul says with reference to him that “He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” 2 Thess. 2:4. (Could this also be referenced by Jesus in Matt. 24:15? “Who so READETH, let him understand.” (KJV)) (As an aside, I don’t think this fulfillment requires a “rebuilding” of a “temple” in Jerusalem–that reference may be “symbolic,” possibly even referring to some position of “Christian” hierarchy–but I am clearly “speculating” at this point.)

    Meanwhile, as I believe I have said before, our response to this expectation is not to “sit around and wait,” but to “work, for the night is coming.” God’s coming is certainly not going to be “advanced” by our doing nothing–indeed, Jesus says that his gospel must be spread throughout the whole world before he will return. Matt. 24:14. And why would we be “persecuted” if we are not standing up to “the powers that be” by word and action on Christ’s behalf? Matt. 24:9. (I should note in this regard that I agree with Gary that some of these prophesies in Matt. 24 do relate to destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD. However, I also believe in “dual fulfillment,” and also Jesus was answering more than one question in his discourse in Matt. 24–”what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Matt. 24:3.)

    I thought this would be a “brief response,” but one thing just led to another. Hopefully I did address a “two witness” support for my views on the “advance” of the Church and the “end times.” Meanwhile, it is time for me to “get back to work!”

    Tom Harkins

  10. Tom Harkins says:

    Gary, a final comment by me in this particular forum, barring any response. (I would note that several of the previous comments by others on these points are quite good, likely better than mine.)

    I want to make clear, first, that I am not a dispensationalist, a premillennialist, and certainly not a pre-tribulation rapturist, but probably closest to amillennialist, and that it is from that perspective that I make my comments. In that respect, I believe that the conquest of the Church is in “bringing in the saints and santifying them,” which is what is meant by the figurative “millennial” reign of the saints in Rev. 20:1-6. I believe that Satan’s being bound for that “millennium,” but then loosed “for a short time” in Rev. 20:3, corresponds to Rev. 20:7′s having Satan being “released from his prison” to make a final war against the Church until the Lord comes again to destroy him, Rev. 20:7-10. (Why would Satan be released “twice,” and why for the second time “after” the “millenial reign” of Christ over all the earth in a “physical” sense if either premillennialism or postmillennialism were correct?) This will be followed immediately by the “great white throne” judgment (the one and only judgment), itself immediately ushering in the eternal state of heaven (and the new earth) for the saints, and hell (or “lake of fire”) for those who rejected Christ. Rev. 20:11-22:15. (Although I do admit Rev. 20:4 is a little contra-indicative to this analysis, including its “apparent” chronology, this is hardly more difficult in that respect than numerous other “timing” and “order” references throughout the highly figurative and apocalyptic Revelation; and, I would think, hardly MORE problematic for MY view than that of both this passage and various others for POSTMILLENNIALISTS.) Satan’s being “bound” during the “figurative” millennium I take to correspond to Jesus’ reference to seeing Satan “falling like lightning from heaven” due to Christ’s First Coming, with Satan’s influence on earth greatly diminished INSOFAR AS HIS ATTEMPTING TO DEFEAT THE SPREAD OF THE GOSPEL THOUGHOUT ALL THE EARTH, to bring into sainthood all who WILL be saints (in response to Christ’s sacrifice and invitation, by their own free choice, Rev. 3:20). Thus, the Apostles and certain other saints were given authority, initially, to “cast out demons” to demonstrate this “transfer” of such primary authority to that extent. (I do realize God always has been and will be the ultimate authority over earth throughout, but clearly God has granted Satan the status of presently being “the prince of the power of the air,” and thus he has certain “subordinated” authority.) In the “final battle,” I see the “shift” to be somewhat reversed, even to the extent of allowing the enemy, through his earthly ambassadors, authority to perform ACTUAL “counterfeit” miracles to deceive those who refuse to accept Christ. Rev. 13, particularly verses 13-14.

    All that is quite a long way around to my primary point of how things will be during the “millennial reign” and at the culmination of history. Jesus said that “few” will be saved. Matt. 7:14. “In fact, EVERYONE who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” 2 Tim. 3:12. To the best of my rec0llection and understanding, no NEW TESTAMENT passage indicates that the spread of the gospel will gain POLITICAL or SOCIAL dominion, as opposed to the advancement of the gospel and discipleship of the saints throughout all the world. See Matt. 28:18-20. “Jesus said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.’” Matt. 18:36. “Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, ‘the kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, “Here it is,” or “There it is,” because the kingdom of God is within you.’” Luke 17:20-21 (NIV). “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth.’” John 4:23-24. See also Matt. 24:9-14 (“you will be hated by all nations because of me,” v.9). In Hebrews 11 (there being no separate dispensations), Abraham is praised for being a “stranger” in this earth, because “he was looking forward to a city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” v.9-10. Verses 13-16 praise those faithful saints because “they were longing for a better country–A HEAVENLY ONE. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for HE HAS PREPARED A CITY FOR THEM.” v.16. “I am going there (‘my Father’s house’) to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” John 14:2-3. “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” Matt. 6:20. On earth, “thieves break in and steal.” Matt. 6:19.

    In light of this clear NT emphasis on the kingdom of God being spiritual, and our reward coming in Heaven, clearly all OT prophesies must be read consistently with what Jesus and the NT writers said in that regard. Therefore, the OT prophesies as to the kingdom were either (a) analogies for spiritual truths (not unlike Jesus’ many parables–”the kingdom of God is LIKE”), or (b) describing our final rest and kingdom in the “NEW earth,” where, indeed, “the lion shall lie down with the lamb,” “nor will they make war anymore,” and so forth.

    Now, finally, as to the “last days” on THIS earth, certain passages CLEARLY relate to that, once the “quickly” problem is dealt with. (Peter resolves this in 2 Peter 3:8-9, as I have noted before.) In these “last days” passages (not last days of “what”; just “the last days,” unless the specific context would show otherwise), there are numerous references, including by Jesus, that those days will be a time of great trouble and disbelief, and an increase of persecution of believers. (Matthew 24 certainly ALSO speaks of the destruction of the temple, since that was PART of the disciples’ COMPOUND question, but clearly ALSO answers the disciples’ simultaenous inquiry as to his RETURN. While there is some ambiguity as to which relates to what, that is just like OLD TESTAMENT prophesies, and especially as those related to Christ’s FIRST Coming.) See also Daniel 12:1-4, including that “at the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased,” v.4 (KJV), which is certainly VASTLY more the case now than ever before. In any event, whether I am right about that particular reference or not, there is no reason to oppose an interpretation of the “end times” scriptures that concludes there will be “signs” of the Lord’s return, his Second Coming, just as there were MANY as to his First Coming. The “fig tree” reference is indicative of that. (I believe elsewhere you oppose a belief in such “signs” on the basis that pretrib’ers say the rapture will be “unexpected”; obviously that is no problem for me, since I don’t believe in pretrib.) “For you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. . . . But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.” 1 Thess. 5:2 & 5:4. Clearly from the preceding chapter, 4:13-18, Paul is talking about the Second Coming. Truly we do not know “that day or hour,” Matt. 24:36, but we can see from the fulfillment of these signs that “it is near, right at the door.” Matt. 24:33. (I recognize that this is followed by the reference to “this generation,” v. 34, which refers to the part of the disciples’ comp0und question relating to the destruction of the temple, but the IMMEDIATELY PRECEDING PORTION before v.33, verses 30-31, obviously relates to the Second Coming; see 1 Thess. 5:16 and the parables as to separating the saints from the lost at the time of Christ’s return.)

    In short (after a long discussion!), I believe the scriptures indicate (a) the advance of the Church is spiritual, bringing in the saints from all over the world and making disciples of them, culminating in a HEAVENLY (and new earth) reward, and (b) there are “signs” of the end, which we may consider, just as we would any other scriptural theme, so long as we do not get so preoccupied with the matter that we desert our various “duties” as saints, “making the most of every opportunity, because the days are EVIL.” Ephesians 5:16. (Indeed, we might note that there is an ENCOURAGEMENT to the truly MOST important of all Christian endeavors in seeing part of Matt. 24 as relating to the time of the “end” (i.e., “end,” not end of “what”); that being: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the WHOLE WORLD as a testimony to ALL NATIONS, and THEN the END will come.” Matt. 24:14. “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” Rev. 22:20b.

    • Stephen Ray Hale says:

      Tom Harkins, outside the several comments you have made, I do not know you, but your comments have sparked a bit of interest in me concerning your “amillennialism,” a position you seem to hold in some manner of reservation. While you have communicated so many observations on your part concerning the record (Bible), it appears that the impression of complexity has resulted in perplexity, again, on your part. I am not about to tell you that I have this Gordian knot of testimony completely mastered, and if I have someone to look upon who has a greater capacity to encompass a greater amount of the mind of God of that which He wants us to know, perhaps that would be Gary DeMar. But that is concerning volume, not necessarily understanding. I am a plodder with too many bouts of having words or complex topics slip off the tip of my tongue to desire to meet with Brother DeMar in debate outside of the written page. But plodding does have its desirable points and that is one finds treasures of understanding overlooked by a Bible sprinter. Perhaps that has something to do with my geological profession where I discovered that a more leisurely survey across the terrain rewards me with treasures of clues, be they mineral or fossil assemblages.

      I am Irish, and a poet, a composer of music, but lacking the skills of entrepreneurship to market my creations, melancholy, but witty, leaning toward the naughtiness of punning; and though I have bouts of lucidity, keeping up with the best of them…them being anyone with whom I am engaged in informal discussions nigh unto the type of debate I fear with the likes of the intellects of a DeMar or Ice, I have discovered a very underdeveloped Theological concept in scripture which just might be too mundane for high intellect to pause over. At the same time, as we think Christology ties in all of revelation from Hebrew to Christian scriptures, this concept ties together in the area of the nuts and bolts of the fabric of scripture that which could illuminate that mind of God I have claimed scripture to be.

      It really is a simple concept, one that finds its way in law, and science, but like that Gordian Knot illustration (remember I am a radical literalist, and as a literalist I am quite aware of all the literary devices folk use to communicate concrete concepts) it seems to draw in together, and even somewhat concisely, ALL doctrine conceived of at this point, rather, that which I can conceive of…and it actually even DEFINES doctrine. And to cut any of the doctrine, rightly developed, like cutting one strand of the Gordian knot that binds together reality, you destroy the entire knot.
      The concept is found in the Torah of Moses and it involves two corollaries. Though in the three instances of this concept being set forth by Moses, there seems to be no particular order of the corollaries, so I have made a command decision to order them from simplicity to complex. The name is quite long and I have truncated it the best I can to be “the law of multiple witnesses.” The more formal name would be “the law of two or three witnesses that establishes a matter.”

      Perhaps DeMar could appreciate this illustration found in the sciences, this concept is like the several laws of thermodynamics, which seems to have application, through modifying the terms, of all aspects of science beyond an explanation of the phenomenon of heat. While Moses, initially, has this law crafted toward those matters requiring the death penalty, Jesus uses it to reinforce his ministry before the Jews, as well as making it a matter dealing with church discipline as found in Matthew 18, even to the definition of what makes up an assembly of Christ. Paul uses it to organize the spirit gifted members of the visible body of Christ who “in part” (1 Corinthians 13:8-12 EK MEROUS) or “in particular” (1 Corinthians 12:27 EK MEROUS), and by course (1 Corinthians 14:27 ANA MEROS) TESTIFY, according to the law of two or three witnesses that establishes a matter, that fruit of their gift to the assembly for either the teacher or all the congregation to judge what is to be TAUGHT. In 1 Corinthians 14:27-33, Paul has both those gifted with tongues and with prophecy to give orderly testimony of that knowledge of the mind of God that He is willing for the assembly to have in lieu of that archived version of the testimony or the derived doctrine. Basically, we intuitively understood that we should fear no doctrine that is not settled by at least two or three scriptures, AND THAT PRACTICE is confirmed by Peter in 2 Peter 1:20, though we have to correctly translate what I suspect might be a deliberate MISTRANSLATION in order to teach an opposite concept. Where the Vulgate seems to deliberately mistranslate the Greek, and then the later English translations appearing to follow suit, 2 Peter 1:20 as: “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation,” the more accurate translation of the Greek ought to be in the line of, “This first knowing that every prophecy of scripture is NOT OF ITS OWN INTERPRETATION.”

      This translation falls in line with the first corollary of the law of multiple witnesses, that in the more generalized form in the Torah appears as “by the mouth of one witness shall no man be put to death.” In the mouth of Jesus in the gospel of John we find this, “If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.”
      I am not sure of what resources you have, but if you can consult the Greek of 1 Corinthians 12-14, but specifically chapter 13, you can find a grand study of how Paul perceives the law that answers the great puzzle of 1 Corinthians 13:10, “But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” Much nonsense has been ascribed to this section of scripture on just about every side of the debate between the charismatic folk and those of us who believe in some early termination of the marvelous sign gifts to the Jews, which existed and terminated at the forty year end of “this evil generation” DeMar is fond of. The termination of the gift of prophecy and the technical gift of knowing or knowledge as denominated by Paul but is really the Holy Spirit enhanced memory of eyewitnesses of Jesus in whatever He did and said, was NOT at the end of the “evil generation” at the destruction of the temple in 70 AD but at the time the last gospel (written according to the gift of eyewitness knowledge, and remembered even after so many years beyond 70 AD) composed by John the Apostle between 70 AD and 90-95 AD. The very last prophecy was John’s Revelation, also written about 90-95 AD. The Epistles of John actually contain as subject matter that which Paul prophesied would remain when the marvelous sign gifts to the Jews stopped under the heading of tongues, and of the revelatory gifts of enhanced eyewitness testimony and prophecy – the continuing credibility giving gift of AGAPE or unconditional love of the type that only God could give us and true Christians possess.
      T
      his comment is becoming longer than appropriate for this site, so I am going to close with the secret of 1 Corinthians 13:10 as to the identity of what will come that is complete. The secret was deciphered in the manner that Paul uses the literary device called ellipsis. 1 Corinthians contains a neuter singular article TO and a neuter singular adjective TELEION and a missing substantive that according to any rule of grammar must also be singular and neuter. The next phrase can also be considered an ellipsis having a singular neuter article TO and a phrase EK MEROUS (in part) which is completely misunderstood. Paul seems to be very timid in using this device called the ellipsis and if one studies his uses of it, one finds that there seems to always be a word in the context, intimate, near or even far, that resolves the issue. This being the case, I started searching for a neuter singular word that could fit the context of the verse. I could NOT find one intimate, or near, but I did find one far, but in an appropriate place, one that actually introduces some of the subjects that Paul would address in the balance of his letter. It is found in 1 Corinthians 1:6, “Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you.” The words “the testimony” is TO MARTURION a somewhat unusual form of the word that typically is in a feminine form MARTURE.

      By placing this form in 1 Corinthians 13:10, we can solve the riddle:

      1 Corinthians 13:10(KJV)

      10But when THE COMPLETE TESTIMONY is come, then THE TESTIMONY IN PART shall be done away.

      Unlike in most commentaries, this does NOT mean that in some warm and fuzzy future when all prophecy is finally fulfilled and everything is made known, we will have a complete knowledge and no longer will we have incomplete knowledge. Paul introduces the interval of 1 Corinthians 12 through 14 by, “I will not have you ignorant brothers” and ends with “he that is ignorant let him be ignorant still.” It is a mystery why Paul would leave this mysterious and dark verse which the greatest divines and theologians have debated for centuries on to people who as a church, Paul recognizes as confused. Though I may have found it by just plodding through the book, Paul, after all, had the answer right before our noses. Now we can see an accomplishment of Paul’s crafting of that section of scripture. He has predicted the practical end of all means of testimony that results in scripture or doctrine according to the physical arrangement of bodies of people in groups of two or three among the assembly to testify the fruit of their spiritual gifts. The end would be the result of the last archiving testimony of either eyewitness testimony or prophecy. That last archiving testimony would be given by John the last surviving apostle, the scribe and wise man, and witness and prophet practicing his gifts and calling to be scribe. When the last archiving testimony of knowledge or prophecy was applied to the parchment, then the practice of having individuals of the assembly give testimony in twos or threes with one judging in order to derive doctrine for each individual assembly would be done away with…or at the death of the apostle.

      NOW instead of being prohibited to interpret one’s own testimony of prophecy or eyewitness as Paul had to endure, remedied only by seeking out other testimony of prophecy or eyewitness testimony of other gifted individuals in the church to derive doctrine, Paul could imagine and hope to gather all the completed testimonies found written down and placed conveniently before him so he could judge for himself what doctrine can be derived.
      Ephesians 4 seems to be a companion to 1 Corinthians 12-14. We are not looking forward to the end of the age to obtain everything we ought to know, but there seems to be in the construction of that letter the hope of understanding that will prevent us from being led about by every wind of doctrine. He is talking of assemblies being absolutely mature enough to function with adequate truth, even in Paul’s near future.

      Alas. There are so many more answers to the perplexity of the organization of the vast store of knowledge in the Bible that this law of multiple witnesses can shed light on…but I am fearful that even this relatively small essay might not make it on the comments section of the site that Brother DeMar seems to have kindly provided for us. I can give you more material but I am not sure how to deliver that to you if you are interested. I find prospect that you could assist me in chasing down all the rabbit trails this study in multiple witnesses could lead off into if it were of interest of you to do so, even for your own edification concerning end times, which a study such as this can solidify. Paul’s understanding and prophecy of this dealing with chapter 12-14 only is significant for the age of the assemblies of God and Christ, and that ends at the rapture. The next seven years after that, there WILL be prophets and marvelous sign gifts again for the Jews in anticipation of national salvation and that of Jerusalem. Chapter four of Revelation marks the end of the assemblies of Christ in history. Every assembly of Christ is the complete body of Christ in whatever visible and local place they meet. There IS no universal, invisible OR visible assembly. If you desire an invisible/visible universal entity, the family of God or the Kingdom could answer that need…but it is not the church. We are the cat’s meow from the time of the founding until the rapture…and after that there will be individual Christians that exist in that time ministering as they may. The same exists for the millennial kingdom. There will be a universal and local assembly in heaven one of these days, but that thing does not exist today…and it is NOT an extension of the assemblies we have visible and local today.

      I have a face book account…if you have one, you might search me up under my name you see at the header, and I will send you by email a better compilation of this subject.

  11. Stephen Ray Hale says:

    Thank you for bringing to attention some points that concern at least your form of preterist eschatology (I have not mastered all the forms and I cannot hold you to what other types are saying). This allowed me to investigate my own position and apply it to your concerns.

    Looking at all forms of last times, hours, days, and the “afterwards” of Joel and a few possible pointings to that word by the apostles which might prove to be an exciting study in itself, and various forms of “this generation,” given by all of the apostles who bring this subject up, I have come to the conclusion that what Peter is talking of, in his continuing commentary of Paul’s writing, is the entire portion of “last things” involving repentance from, possibly the beginning of John the Baptist’s ministry through Jesus to the actual passing away of the heavens and the earth, literally, the type found even in John’s Revelation.

    The last times is the subset of ALL of God’s LONGSUFFERING involving all of the elect as a study of that word of Paul’s writings would suggest when Peter points to that word “LONGSUFFERING” in 2 Peter 3:15-16:

    2 Peter 3:15-16(KJV)

    15And account that the LONGSUFFERING of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;

    16As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

    Romans 9:22-24 is pointing to the identification of Peter’s “to usward,” “any,” and “all” of 2 Peter 3:9(KJV): “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is LONGSUFFERING to US-WARD, not willing that ANY should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance,” as mirroring Paul’s “even US, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles.”

    Romans 9:22-24(KJV)

    22What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much LONGSUFFERING the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:

    23And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,

    24Even US, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

    The significance, of course, is that God is not willing that any of the elect should perish, thus the longsuffering, and this thought should not be much of a surprise in that Peter, HIMSELF, here was writing to those addressed in terms of an understanding of their current saved status. The realization of this abruptly curtailed my FREE WILLINESS in matters of salvation, and my war against the Calvinists of my Bible school.

    Knowing that Peter is writing on subjects close to Paul’s “scriptures,” perhaps your casual mention of Paul’s discussion of “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come,” in 1 Corinthians 10:11, sheds light on the various “ends” that this “last days” of God’s longsuffering encompasses.

    I can see one end of a full forty year “this evil generation” at the time of Peter,
    and an end of the church age at the time of the rapture of church age saints this side of Chapter 4 of Revelation, and the end of the age of the gentiles, with the general resurrection of the remaining righteous dead, coinciding with the rapid end of a partial “this generation” of Matthew 24 when it sees signs in the heavens and the SALVATION of Israel, and Jerusalem, denied those of the “this evil generation” not given a sign from heaven but anticipating a destruction of the landed nation of Israel and of Jerusalem,
    and finally, the end of the millennial age, occupied by those, STILL in need of repentance according to the longsuffering of God, who would be some of the children of those righteous Jews and gentiles of Matthew 25 entering alive into that manifestation of the Kingdom of God, and whose righteous survivors witnessing the last of the worn nerve of God’s longsuffering when He burned up the final batch of rebels without really much debate,
    AND THEN witnessing the resurrection of the evil dead and the passing of the heavens and the earth, preceding the last judgment of those miserable dead men walking.

    Thank you for bringing that point up concerning Paul’s “upon whom the ends of the world (AGES) are come.”

  12. John McGrew says:

    The original creation was a process of bringing order out of chaos by means of the word. The fall returned chaos to the world, the ultimate chaos being death, the dissolution of the created living soul by the seperation of body and spirit, the corruption of the body and the descent of the spirit into the deep, that is tehom, abyss, hades or sheol, the netherworld, the place of the dead. Death reigned from Adam to Moses, this is the first age of the world, death reigning over the kingdom. With the crossing of the red sea and the giving of the law, God made a typical recreation, bringing order out of chaos by means of the word. This is the point of the parallelism in Is. 51 between the original creation and the calling of Israel out of Egypt. This new creation was signified by the making of a microcosm, a center of the earth, a naval of the world, an axis mundi, a sacred place where heaven, earth and hell, in the sense of the netherworld or hades, not gehenna, meet, that is the tabernacle, and later the temple. But the law of sin and death reigned over the kingdom from Moses till Christ, this is the second age of the world. With the coming of the Word the antitypical creation was ready to begin. This new creation is the church, which is also the new temple. The destruction of the old heaven and earth, the microcosm , signified that the third age, the age of the law of the spirit of life in Christ was fully underway. that death and hell and the one who had the power of death had been defeated, subjected to Christ, and rendered ineffective, katargeo, kata-argos, that is, down-idled. With the destruction of the temple the way to the true holy of holies was now manifested, the resurrection could take place when all of the new testament writers said it would, at the end of that generation, and continue, after the end, every man in his own order. However, this appears to only apply to Jews and believers, things happen to the type first, or they would not be an example, and the rest of the dead must wait until the end of all the years of Christ’s reign, that is , the thousand years, no matter how many thousand years that may be. Christ holds the keys of death and hell, the ones he wishes death to hold, it does, the ones he wishes to rise from death, do. As he promised, the gates of hades no longer hold down his church. Both Luther and Athanasius held that believers would be resurrected immediately, see the large catechism treatment of the third article of the creed and “On the Incarnation.” Also, one must reject the gnosticizing idea that one can get to heaven sans resurrection, see Irenaus’ ” Fifth Book Against Heresies.” Luther is also very clear that only resurrected people are in heaven. Unfortunately, Irenaus was a futurist, he believed the believers would be held in Paradise, the prelude to immortality, as he put it, not raised to life and heaven until the end of time. This explains why the end of that generation and the destruction of the temple were looked forward to so eagerly. Some early christians also held that only martyrs could be in the First Resurrection, taking John too literally, I believe, there are other ways of giving up your life for Christ than being killed for your faith. But, this is why so many eagery sought after martyrdom, who would want to lay around in the right hand side, the white collar side, of death’s prison when you could be immediately in the resurrection?
    There is another concept from political science which explains why the days of judgement on particular nations were spoken of in terms of the destruction of creation. The political theory of the ancients held that God’s rule set up a world order, or cosmos, the king or other sovereign’s rule set up a little, typical, world order, or cosmios. It was natural for those people to think in these terms and to understand ‘decreation’ language as applying to the destruction of the kingdom. The ultimate ‘Day of the Lord’ thus applies to the destruction of the ultimate cosmios, the kingdom called to be a nation of kings and priests to all the nations. For a discussion of the cosmios concept, see Voegelin’s “New Science of Politics.”
    It might be in order to say something about the meaning of the word telos. It means literally the point at which a thing is aimed, that is, its purpose or goal. We know that Christ is the Telos, also the Arche, and the Kurios. These are three branches of government in Greek thought. The Arche has the responsibility of beginning an action, the Telos of completing it, and the kurios gives it legitimacy. This correspondes roughly with our House, Executive, and some functions of both the Senate and Supreme Court. When all three powers are held by one man we call it tyranny, but we don’t mind it now that Christ holds all three. But to get back to Peter’s use of telos. When Peter says that the end of our faith is eternal life, he shows that he understands the classical meaning and usage of the word and he didn’t forget then in two pages. When he says that the end of all things is at hand, he means the purpose of all things is about to be fulfilled, that all things from the creation and the fall, and especially the typical kingdom, are the means to this near end, which is that the kingdom of God is to be invested on Christ and His Church. One should also remember that the Glory Cloud reappeared in the temple four or five days before Passover in the spring of 66, there is a textual variation here in the “Antiquities.” Josephus’ description remarkably tallies with Paul’s encounter with the glorified Christ on the Damascus road. Not too surprising, if your Christology is not totally deficient, you know who inhabits the Glory Cloud, the Visible Image of the Father.

  13. Tom Harkins says:

    Gary, it occurs to me that there are some difficulties with “last days” meaning “last days of the old covenant” as you indicated above. For one thing, the “old covenant” ended upon CHRIST’S DEATH AND RESURRECTION (veil ripped). The destruction of Jerusalem essentially had nothing to do with the switch from old to new. So the subsequent NT prophesies as to “last days,” coming AFTER that veil ripping event, could not refer to the end of the “old covenant,” which had already passed. Also, the Jewish faith did NOT end in AD 70–it is still alive and practiced today (though invalid).
    Further, I do not think various of the “last days” language (and OTHER terminology) necessarily refer to the same thing, and in any event not all (or perhaps any) to the temple destruction. You reference 1 Cor. 10-11, translated variously “ends of the world” (KVJ), “ends of the ages” (NAS), “fulfillment of the ages” (NIV), where Paul says that what happened to Israel “were written down as warnings for us” (NIV), “for our instruction” (NAS), “for our admonition” (KJV), WHO LIVE IN THAT TIME. I think you would agree that Paul was not limiting that class of people to pre-70 AD people. So the time period must refer, actually, to the ENTIRE “Church” age. As for Hebrews 1:12 (which is logically conjoined with 2:1-4 contextually), this appears to be the “last days” of DIVINE REVELATION (i.e., the close of scripture), seeing that the author says God spoke through “prophets,” “his Son,” and “those who heard him,” and that we accordingly should listen closely.
    The problem with James 5:7-9 does not have anything to do with any translation of “last days” (it does not use that terminology); rather, it is because of the language, “the Lord’s coming is NEAR” (NIV). To apply this to 70 AD does not fit with the context, which rather teaches patience in suffering because God will ultimately judge wrongdoers for their mistreatment, such as specifically the “rich people” (5:1, NIV) he has just reprimanded for such conduct. So this is simply a SEPARATE PROBLEM of what it means for the SECOND COMING to be referred to as being “NEAR,” not anything relating to the 70 AD destruction. (See Revelation 22:20, clearly speaking of the Second Coming, using “quickly” (KJV) and “soon” (NIV).)
    How, then, do we deal with such language in THAT context? We see if any scripture ADDRESSES this “problem.” And we find that it DOES. 2 Peter 3 answers SCOFFERS of the Second Coming. In doing so, he explains that we must not forget that “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is NOT SLOW about his PROMISE, as SOME count SLOWNESS, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” 3:8-9. Clearly Peter is explaining that those who question the promise of “quickly” are in error because by GOD’s “calendar,” he is not speaking necessarily in a matter of “days,” but, instead, as “quickly” as the “all [who will] come to repentance,” even if that is after a couple of thousand years instead of a couple of days. This again fits with the text, is explanatory, and has nothing to do with 70 AD.
    Consequently, to the extent there are passages which in their context “seem” to speak of the Second Coming, it is actually no objection to that construction to say that they use “quickly,” thereby causing a highly strained “alternative theory” such as that they all relate to 70 AD. Therefore, if “signs” are spoken of, we may treat them that way (though, of course, many such references are figurative, as with much of such prophesy, OT and NT). This would include 2 Thess. 2:1-11, in my estimation.
    Tom Harkins

  14. Steven Ward Reed says:

    Dear Gary, I have been receiving your emails for some time now….and although I agree with the truth that the Law Of God should be the rule of law in not just our own lives but in our societies, incl. our government, etc…
    I still cannot embrace Postmillenialism. I have read, and prayed about it….but only see things in this world getting worse and worse Spiritually, Morally, Politically, etc…. But I still appreciate all the work you are doing to get the Truth out. Thankyou, Steven Ward Reed chiefredwater@yahoo.com

  15. Stephen Ray Hale says:

    I know I am in a pickle here (what in the world does that mean? – I’ve used it concerning being in a dilemma all my life and NOW I am askance as to make any sense of it) in that I am a raging Dispensationalist BUT I agree with Gary’s passion to preserve this one and only place of potentially true religious Liberty as a bastion to be worthy of DOING GOOD without the terror of government to our Good Works, whatever the underlying subtleties of our precious national documents. If the cabal of Masonic folk made one mistake, it is that GOD can redeem our constitution and Declaration of Independence using the very words taken at its surface meaning. In other words, Christians must get off their duff they occupy in backsliding and DO GOOD and that might mean were are to try to preserve the authority that Romans 13 has placed in our lives for the good of the people (especially Christians) in preserving their innocent lives, Liberties, and possessions so that we can go about doing good as Jesus and the Apostles and committed Christians have always done. The documents of our Republic reveal that were government to be chained to such as it should, then Christians must doubly try to be self governing and divest the usurpations of Government into the responsibilities of our charities that WE are supposed to maintain, and the education of our own children. Our country is fragile in the need for a large constituency BE so self governing, looking over our shoulder at an omniscient God instead of around the corner in look out against a draconian constabulary.
    John Locke, the supposed mentor of our founders (if it were found to be true that they were so subtle and clandestine) slipped, if he was involved in Masonry, by indicating that Liberty is a subset of Freedom. Because the Christians in the nation came up with a top notch definition of Liberty as being the (subset of) freedom to do that which is right, and knowing the proverbs that “there is a way that seemeth right unto a man but the ends thereof are the ways of death,” they added the caveat “and that which is right in the sight of God” to the definition of Liberty. This, then, fits in quite lovely to grasp out of the hands of the Hitlerites’ mismanagement of Romans 13 to spotlight Romans 13:3 the caveat of obedience to every type of government, “for rulers are not a terror to good works.”
    Peter in his commentary of Paul’s writings as all of Peter’s epistles basically are, which can be seen were we to continue looking at the balance of Chapter 3 (2 Peter 3:15-16(KJV)

    15And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;

    16As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.)

    Tells us that we are to continue in well doing, even if it were possible for governments to actually become terrors to good works, by saying that we are NOT to be afraid of their terror but do good in spite of what they say against us or punish us for well doing.
    In Acts, when Peter and the other Apostles were jailed by the magistrates for preaching Jesus in spite of their instructions by the magistrates NOT to do so, says this, “we ought to obey God rather than man.” And this is the apostle that seems to amen Paul’s admonition to submit to the authority:

    1 Peter 2:12-21(KJV)

    12Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.

    13Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;

    14Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.

    15For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:

    16As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.

    17Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.

    18Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.

    19For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.

    20For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.

    21For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
    The founders, sloughed in the quandary that rebellion is not a nice thing, and especially that concerning the opinion of the God of the Bible, carefully provided a government that slipped into action when the overpowering British Parliament and King breached their own contract or constitution and left us as if we had no umpirage or savior from the enemies found on American soil. They deemed it an act of war by the government against the people when Britain dissolved our duly established local governments in lieu of harassing bureaucrats as if the colonies were to be an occupied territory.
    John Locke, himself a British subject or citizen, went to great lengths and detail to delineate or reveal those conditions which find GOVERNMENT in rebellion against the people, and that was first to Biblically demolish the concept of the Divine Rights of Kings, and then to set up in his second treatise of government the Biblical understanding of what the purpose of government really is, and that not some might makes right formula. Government is the material representation of the Biblical much underdeveloped doctrine of the law of multiple witnesses that establishes a matter, where it is found in Ecclesiastes the idea that “a threefold cord in not easily broken.” Innocent life is to be preserved if not much else is available to preserve ALL life. Governments are to provide the remedy of an umpirage to prevent parties who are narrowly interested in their own causes the need to accelerate their strife to the point of an “appeal to God.” When governments willingly fail in such protection of Life, Liberty and Possessions, and the umpirage exposing people to usurpation of God given rights, they have slipped off their mantle of God’s ordained authority, placing themselves in a state of war with the people, by exposing the people they were ordained to protect to the wiles of humanities Locke deems animals who are not willing to take their place in the company of humans, but bent on becoming predators of innocent human life, and the people are left to shift for themselves in trying to re-establish their former protections.
    Locke deems the likes of them, such as Obama and Hillary’s hell bent agenda to tattle against the US and even the states such as Arizona to the United Nations, a body whose legislature is beyond the reach of the individual citizen of the US, as rebels and government in rebellion against the people. The people are not rebels who must shift for themselves to regain in some manner the status of their former protections they had had under the prior government.
    1 Corinthians 7 makes it difficult for us who have been MADE free to become under slavery again and if you read God’s opinion of the threshold of slavery in 1 Samuel 8 where God says the farmer and the rancher who pays but ten percent to the king is a slave to that king, we have already been assailed by our current administrations for some time when we consider the income tax on what could be considered our increase, but listen to what Paul says…the one whose writings Peter has been doing commentary on:

    1 Corinthians 7:20-24(KJV)

    20Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.

    21Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather.

    22For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant.

    23Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.

    24Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.

    Tell me, those of you who feel we are being in rebellion to “resist the authority God puts in our lives,” what is Paul saying for those of us who have been MADE FREE, and even every black reader who is a descendent of slaves, is now a free man in our society, having been made free by virtue of that Civil War?
    If we have been made free we are to USE IT….WHAT…USE WHAT? It appears we are to use our freedom to REMAIN free. What other way can we get around the words. “YE ARE BOUGHT WITH A PRICE; BE NOT YE THE SERVANTS OF MEN.”
    The only way we can do that is to KEEP OUR GOVERNMENT a servant so as free men we serve in a government capacity we are not really servants of MEN but the servants of God…and if you read Romans 13, the authority IS the servant of God. Were government to be the master, then there is no way we could be able to serve as a servant to God.
    It is interesting that the Bible has from the beginning of the ministry of Jesus the duties of three classes of people who are righteous on the basis of repentance and deemed so to the public through the Baptism of John the Baptist.
    We have the people and their responsibilities
    We have the executive or magisterial duties of the soldiers.
    We have the responsibilities of the civil servant who MUST collect for what John Locke calls the expensive cost of providing government…but the government cannot get any property of the people without their consent.

    Luke 3:7-14(KJV)

    7Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

    8Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin 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. [JOHN DEMANDING RIGHTEOUSNESS]

    9And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

    10And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then?

    11He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. [IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE PEOPLE TO DO THEIR OWN CHARITY EVEN EDUCATING THEIR OWN CHILDREN]

    12Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do?

    13And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you. [THIS ANSWERS TO PAUL’S ADMONITION TO PAY THE GOVERNMENT ONLY THAT WHICH IS OWING]

    14And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages. [THIS ABSOLUTELY CRIES THAT A PERSON WHO HAS WAGES IS A SERVANT…NOT A MASTER AND ANY GOVERNMENT, ACCORDING TO 1 SAMUEL 8 WHO EXACTS MORE THAN 9.99 PERCENT OF THAT DEEMED AN INCREASE IS IN REBELLION SEEKING TO BE KING.]

  16. Harmon Gottlieb says:

    What Peter means is that the “last days” denote a period of time subsequent to Christ having finished His Father’s work on earth, but preceding His visible return “in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” There’s no need to build “prophetic speculation” into the phrase, “the last days,” but neither can the passage be spun into an elaborate metaphorical vehicle for a theological ‘regime change’ in favour of post-millennial gradualism. Peter refers to a physical, visible, historic event in the created order–a cataclysmic flood. The language specifying a natural occurrence, therefore, points to the oncoming of a final, apocalyptic, time-ending event.

    The intense physicality of Peter’s references ensure he’s not engaged in the symbolical or poetic encoding of cultic processes. In this particular passage, “elements” do embody the sense of _stoicheon_ which refers to the physical materials of the created universe.

    The Lord Jesus was describing a temporal fact when He said, “Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” The Lord’s diction wasn’t constructing a complex, symbolical vehicle to express an abstract point about the outworking of religious change, but was aimed at a particular destructive event in time and space. Accordingly, “heavens being on fire” and elements melting “with fervent heat,” corresponds with the reference to the historic flood, and points forward to a palpable, geo-physical event–a universal, material ending.

  17. A. D. Sharpe says:

    Greg Finch -

    Jesus Christ in Heaven – flesh and blood does not go there. He has a glorified body. Can you not conceive of a glorified, spiritual, heavenly body having “substance”. Say, one that could eat fish with friends? Enoch did not die, as God “took him”. Likewise Elijah. The human body is born with hundreds of corrupting agents already in the flesh and blood.

    God told Adam some simple words concerning the trees in the Garden. Chavah did not believe God, distorted His word, added to it and subtracted from it. Paul said that she “was in the Trangression”. Thus, Redemption now has a requirement for “believing”, a decided contrast to the expression of unbelief in the Garden.

    Paul gave you a clue when he described somewhat circuitously his visit to the Third Heaven. He couldn’t tell if he was there bodily or in a vision. The important thing is that he claimed that”human language is not adequate to describe what I witnessed”.

    The Christian confession is that one believes that Jesus is Lord (not simply Messiah, but also Adonai) and that God has raised Him from the dead. The internal “proof” is the downpayment of redemption, the receipt of the Spirit of Christ whereby we cry “Abba, Father”. And, in Galatians, Paul informs us that that is the Son in us making the cry using our voice, as the gist of Gal. 2:20. The proof is not a correct doctrine, dogma or even an understanding of the “body” of Jesus Christ. If Paul couldn’t tell you, no one on this forum can tell you.

    If you follow the gist of Hebrews, where Christ is the express (exact) image (ikon) of God (Father), then if the promise is that you are to be conformed to the image of Christ, it is worthy of faith, that is believing.

    Christians in this life are generally not disengaged from witness and testimony of Jesus Christ due to their particular endtime beliefs, but through sloth, fear of man and sin. Theology is manmade. Dogma is manmade. When God calls a man, as He has through the ages, dogma and manmade rubbish fly out the window.

    The author of Hebrews declares “Today is the day of salvation”. If a Premillennial Dispensationalist won’t deliver the Gospel to Jews supposing that God has two soteriologies, it is sin, whatever the motive. If an Amillenialist won’t deliver the Godpel to Jews because he assumes wrongly that God has no interest in Jacob and that the Ekklesia has “superceded” Israel, it is sin.

    It is those who preach Christ and Him crucified that are needed. When the Good News is preached and folk believe, the Holy Spirit comes, and ekklesia is formed and daily life in the Lord commences.

    Unfortunately, in the US, most local assemblies have dogma, doctrine, entertainment, smoke and mirrors and the traditions of men.

    In that day, we shall be like He is.

    Believe it.

    I won’t comment again, as I have no interest in forums and the like. I bumped into this by accident (ha,ha) and I do not hold the myth of America as a Christian nation to be true – ever. Let the Muslims and Jews mistakenly label Europeans (Caucasians) as “Christians”.

    Just how many machine guns and nukes would the Army of Christ require to obtain “victory”?

  18. Joe Gannotti says:

    I have to disagree with the commentary on 2Peter3. I like the way you studied it so well, but you approached it from the wrong viewpoint. Peter is addressing Christians, not Jews. Jesus addressed disciples during His earthly mission, so was warning Jews, not Christians. It makes a BIG difference who the audience is that is being addressed, don’t you agree? Context is key. What would a Christian, (especially one of the dispersion) care about the destruction of Jerusalem at that time? I wouldn’t have. But the end of the world? Now THAT I would be afraid of. Paul uses this same scenario in 2Thess1:6-10 about the coming of the Lord. This will occur in the Last Day or Hour (not ‘days’ or ‘hours’). There is to be one final coming judgment- John5:28; Matt25:31-46; 2Peter3:1-14; 2Thess1:6-9; 1Corinth15:20-58; Matt7:21-24; Matt28:18-20–Do you believe Christ is with His disciples still? Or did that end with the destruction of Jerusalem? Also, what about 1Corinthians11:26? If all things ended at the destruction of Jerusalem, why do the saints still partake of the Lord’s Supper?

  19. Greg Finch says:

    Gary,

    I am in agreement with your overarching purpose of persuading Christians NOT to concede defeat in this world but to carry on the redeeming work that Christ began on the cross . . . that we would continue to be ‘mini-Christs’ bringing light into every institution and arena of our fallen race.

    I talk about this topic in my classes, and even though most of the people in them are amillenialists / partial preterists, many of the books they read have a dispensationalist worldview embedded into them. This, of course, causes many to unreflectingly concede defeat and to (as you say) liken the world to a Titanic that’s on its way down, and to view actively seeking to extend the influence of Christ and his mandates into the institutions of the world as ultimately being futile.

    So many thanks for your thoughts and your continuing to keep your perspective out in front of those who subscribe to your e-mail, etc.

  20. Tom Harkins says:

    Gary, I agree that there are passages talking about Christ coming “quickly” which might suggest the author was speaking of some other event than the Second Coming, such as some you reference. See Revelation 22:20. But this last verse in particular can hardly be seen as anything other than the Second Coming, following discussion of Heaven. “Quickly” may be understood as comparative to all history before. I think this is why Peter specifically says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.” 2 Peter 3:9. Why would Peter say that if he were speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem? He explains that God is being patient to allow for salvation. He also says that we are “looking forward to this,” v.14, which hardly makes sense of the destruction of Jerusalem. I think “last days” and the like may well have more than one meaning, depending on context. In one sense, we have been in the “last days” since Christ completed his redemptive work, “It is finished,” and now we wait for his return to culminate redemptive history. Romans 8:22-23. But there still must be an “ultimate end” to this world–is there no NT prophesy about that? I think 2 Peter 3 is.

  21. Gary DeMar says:

    That’s why the reader must pay close attention to the time indicators: near, shortly, at hand, “this generation,” now, etc.

    If you read the article, you will see how the NT uses the phrase “the last days.” The last days of what? As I point out, the apostles were living in the last days of the old covenant (1 Cor. 10:11; Heb. 1:1-2; 9:26; James 5:7-8; 1 Pet. 4:7; etc.)

    • Kerry says:

      Gary,
      If you only knew how much I appreciate your work in providing material relating to “the last days”. Sometimes in my particular situation it seems like a lonely road, so, thanks.

      I may disagree with you occasionally, but compared to the work in trying to help others see the lack of victory in a gloom and doom eschatology, and the plain language of the texts, the disagreements with you are minor.
      I’m glad you used some teaching comments of Dr. Owen on the subject of Peter’s 2nd epistle. In my mind, few if any could have said it better.

    • Andrew says:

      Hi Gary,thanks for being bold enough to provide the means for truth to be revealed about the “end times”
      I appreciate it alot because it is very rare to see people in the body of Christ who simply want the bible as it is.Many people are emotionally attached to doctrines which they have been fed with and they have pinned there hopes on those ideas, I can see some people aren’t getting what you are saying, when I read their responses. But its quite simple when you chuck out the old doctrines and read what the word says.

      The Law was up until John but since that time the Kingdom is at hand! And will increase on the earth. What an awesome message of hope in comparison to the gloom and doom rubbish.

      Keep going Gary.

      Cheers!

      Andrew Dove-Durban,South Africa

  22. Tom Harkins says:

    Gary, this article is interesting and ably argued. However, prophecies were OFTEN made at a certain time but with fulfillment long years later, including the prophecies of Christ’s FIRST coming. Thus, it would not be surprising for Peter to be speaking to US at the end of time in 2 Peter 3. So when Peter says, “the last days,” v.3, there is no reason not to take him literally, as opposed to interpolating “the last days of the Jewish order.” This is supported by the fact that the mockers say, everything continues as from “the beginning of creation,” v.4, not from the beginning of the Jewish order. In fact, Peter’s response is that they forget the flood, v.5-6, a pre-Abrahamic event. Then Peter extrapolates from that utter destruction of the world as it THEN existed to the utter destruction of the world as it CURRENTLY exists. Everything Peter says in c. 3 fits his w/ speaking to US at the “final end.”

  23. A. D. Sharpe says:

    Gentlemen:

    I require a “big bang” and “elements melting with a fervent heat” in my endtime scenario. Please stick to the script.

    In that Chapter, Peter compares catastrophe against catastrophe – Flood against a supernova “event” – and does not offer mere symbolism. If your “method” is correct, prophecy is a poetic ruse.

    “Knowing this, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake, moved by the Holy Ghost.” That is to say, when it happens, then you’ll know. And, you might be as “wrong” as was Peter about Gentiles.

    The non-poetic tenor of the letter: “angels that sinned”; “spared not the old world”; Flood; Sodom/Gomorrah fried; delivered Lot; rebuked Balaam through the first chrismatic – his ass who was given several gifts by God in order that an evil man might be chastised by a dumb beast; time line shift – 1=1000=1 with the Lord (not you) and finally -

    “the Lord is not slack concerning his promise – perhaps the most solid phrase of the letter, give notice to the prudent that this is not a poetic discourse. Peter was not given to “poetic” expression, but he was a blue-collar sword-wielding type – much modified by dealings arranged for him by the Lord.

    You would have us believe that Abraham thrust the knife towards Yitzak’s heart for a bit of poetic fluff. And yet, Abraham longed for a heavenly city – that is, God must have told him about it; perhaps also showed it to him. I would also suggest that the “Day” Abraham saw was from beginning to end – The Day of the Lord from birth to Glorious parousia – but that is a hunch, obviously. Abraham certainly walked in a faith that is foreign to most professors of this day. I suppose that to be, in one part, due to an abundance of poets wooing in this day. The common place now is that, like you, professing Christians abandon Abraham and the Fathers, who are co-heirs with him of the promise, ridicule those who prefer tents and seek to build not only cities, but also nations, ignoring that such build in order to make a haShem for themselves. I personally do not want to live in a dominionist construct here on earth. I’ll “settle” for an heavenly. This earthly construction is no different that current day Judaism except that their construction is facilitated by God, as he is going to give them the Bar Abbas they demanded – but to the Nth power. If Israel (any man) is cursed for trusting to man’s strength, what of Christian “nation” builders?

    The admonition of Peter was not to “figure” the date; but simply to live in the reality of the certainty of its coming. “Figuring” the Day is akin to witchcraft.

    The apparent intent of the website is to perpetuate a myth – namely America as a Christian nation – a spiritual impossiblity. The Declaration of Independence is simultaneously anti-God and anti-Christ – not Christian. The Constitution is blatantly Freemason in its terminology referencing God and the “Establishment” clause is deliberately written in language that conforms to Masonic dogma, accomadating the Masonic mantra that “there are many paths to God”. That US flag standing on most pulpit platofrms is not one whit different in essence than the Nazi flags that decorated German Lutheran pulpits. Both flags represent the butchery of World kingdoms; one ‘church’ denying that Gentiles are incorporated into Israel and butchering all who were “in the way” of the glorious Reich, the other “church” Judaized to the extreme that they kill everyone not-Jewish with gleeful abandon as they “establish Dominion” for the Lord. It is a bit strange to find a Domnionist so aligned with the Scofield Gang – but there you are.

    The true spirit of the US is Satanic and it most resembles Babylon. Unitarians and Freemasons do not “found” Christian nations. But beyond that, the overriding proof is that God does not bless Rebellion. Satan is the root of Rebellion and remains the root. George Washington in his Masonic apron laying the “cornerstone” shows clearly who it was that built this nation. If His kingdom is not of this world, how then does one saddle the Lord with this monstrosity named the Unted States? You must have a very complicated soteriology if you also have “Christian” nations versus “unsaved” nations. How exactly is a backslidden nation returned to the ekklesia? How can a Christian nation be incorporated into Israel, as are individuals? Which is it – the ekklesia or the Nation? Do you hang with Il Papa too much?

    The only Christian nation is that holy nation – the ekklesia of God – which remains partly on earth, part having gone on awaiting the resurrection. That was Peter’s label – which is the label applied by God to Israel. Israel has never disappeared nor is it exclusively Jewish or Gentile. It does not, however correspond to Agar in Arabia, that is, Jerusalem. Even that, accroding to the sure promise of God, will be remedied in His timing.

    I think you would fare better if you had simply pulled a Luther on this one. Also, I have not said that you are not a Christian or that you are a false prophet or the like. I do think you are very wrong in your assumptions, particularly about the United States.

    He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord Jesus Christ. And, to restate a truth – “No flesh shall glory in His presence.”

    • Peter David Becerra says:

      A. D. Sharpe,

      I appreciate your take on iN CHRISt. Glory be to the 1 who stilled the sea. As we seek to servie the LORD and others with a spirit of humility,

  24. Gary DeMar says:

    My goal in writing about eschatology is to get Christians to take this world more seriously. We’re here for “three-score and ten” (give or take a few years), so God must want us to do something. What happens after death and what type of body we have or how heaven’s going to work is God’s business. We’ll know when we get there. Whether the resurrection is individual or corporate is another one of those issues where knowing now won’t have any impact on how we relate to other people and the world. That’s why nearly everything I write deals with last days issues. If we can get millions of Christians to quit fixating on the falsity of end-times speculation, a great deal in this world would change.

    • Stephen Ray Hale says:

      I appreciate that you want to get Christians, now, to do something for “this generation.” That is why I have bought so many books from you or your book store concerning political/Biblical issues and a few on the eschatology. This raving dispensationalist has even worked with a Randian atheist and Trad Catholic and a some raw libertarians to try to start a Liberty district in Loving County, Texas, so that folk from some major third parties could get together and compete with each other in trying to give as much liberty in governance as possible according to whatever party tenets is practical in that agenda.
      But what is the use, or even what is the hope for God led success when whatever government we establish over the tyrannical parties we deal with today slights Israel and despites the Jews, those that even at this late stage, might have a hidden one third of potential brothers in Christ, that He will save in the greatest demonstration of mercy there could be this side of that mercy given to the gentiles.
      We are already stomping on that other raw nerve of God concerning the innocent blood of the children we murder every day as a nation. I do NOT want government supporting Israel or any other nation with money stolen from the people so it can say it gives “charity” to the nations. Governments cannot do charity (Agape – unconditional love) because all government largesse distributed is backed by mandates, strings, conditions and covert requests for political remunerations. Our governmental support actually ties Israel’s hands to do that which can keep its citizens safe. WE as individual citizens who desire the safety of Israel (though we know she remains ALREADY governing Jerusalem and whatever of Judah she is able to stand on, even beyond the rapture) should help her in what ways we can, and let God preserve her militarily, in that God is bent on demonstrating His greatest other demonstration of mercy, not for their righteousness but for HIS PRECIOUS NAME’S SAKE, a theme I notice is lacking even among our Dispensational folk…and by the way I abhor date setting as much/or more as you claim, having to endure your position ridiculing us as the date setters weaken our hands by ignoring that obvious scriptural prohibition.
      The truth is, except for the rapture itself; the church has no more prophetic expectations this side of the rapture. Everything we see today is like light or sand drifting under the door of the rapture of the infrastructure God and Satan is building, which things are “kept in store, reserved” for that end which God will bring to the age this side of the millennium, and, generally, for the next.
      To be sure it appears that Israel has to be in the land and governing during those seven years after the rapture. Lucifer will have to have his infrastructure in place to make his move toward world governance and religious apostasy. The “this generation” that begins to see the real motion of events, hurriedly taking place during those seven years will not even range the whole forty years of 360 day years before Christ is found sitting openly on the Throne of the kingdoms.
      There IS no “this generation” left for us during the church age ending at the rapture. So you are accurate in laughing at that concept. Peter served his generation well by preaching concerning “this evil generation” and giving the baptism of repentance:

      Acts 2:38-40(KJV)

      38Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

      39For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

      40And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from THIS UNTOWARD GENERATION.
      If we do not see America in the prophecies of the end time, it will be because of two scenarios. We have forsaken as a nation the shoring up of that sand we see under the door by despising Israel as a nation and have continued to shed the innocent blood of the children to our destruction before the time, or we have persevered and the rapture has devastated OUR infrastructure when forty percent of us, even you or your descendants kicking and screaming disappear, leaving the nation ravaged and stricken to the level of a fourth world nation that, to OUR credit, cannot even man an expeditionary force to harry Israel in the hour of her SALVATION. Our testimony established by our churches in our assisting Israel may even carry on over into the period after the rapture so that individual Christians among the nations converted during that time would continue aiding and abetting the Jews, never realizing that hidden among that treasure is a third, a remnant precious to Jesus, accounting, indirectly, a continuance of our church ministry beyond our time to the abundance of righteous gentiles converted by the ministries found in those last seven years, and of the Jews preserved alive by their agape-like beneficence.

      Ephesians 3:10(KJV)

      10To the intent that NOW unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,

      Ephesians 3:21(KJV)

      21Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
      For sure, as evidence of that small seven year period, is the New Testament prophecy of the termination of the marvelous sign gifts to the Jews, corralled or headed up by tongues, at the destruction of the temple…or the end of “this evil generation” contemporaneous with Jesus, the actual forty years of 360 day years given by the dual fulfilling prophecy of Micah 7:15 compared to John 5:20. There is also the separate prophecy of the doing away of the holy spirit enhanced memory of eyewitnesses Paul calls the gift of knowing [GINOSCO] or knowledge [GNOSIS] AND the gift of prophecy. The fulfillment of THAT is sure considering that John the Apostle who was the last surviving EYEWITNESS of what Jesus said and did…meaning that gift Paul calls knowledge/knowing that shall be done away with, in that it involved the eyewitness to what Jesus said and did, either died or penned the last words of his testimony, the Gospel of John, in about 90-95 AD; and since it was combined in 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 with prophecy, John also was the last prophet, having died or penned his last prophecy, the book of Revelations. John also left his commentary to Paul’s writings as Peter had been doing commentary on Paul’s writings, by emphasizing the “more excellent way,” that Paul was trying to exalt of all the gifts…the Agape or unconditional love given by God to us at salvation, alone of the credibility giving gifts that existed during the time of the first churches, and he did that in his epistles, the last writings of the apostles.
      The church will no longer see the existence of such gifts which were practiced according to the law of two or three witnesses that establishes a matter by individual Christians testifying orderly and in harmony their special gift, “IN PART.” This “in part” translating the Greek EK MEROUS was NOT an incomplete something that will be done away with at the end of time when the complete something will come as is found in most commentaries concerning 1 Corinthians 13 such as that of John MacArthur, but the practice of giving testimony, one at a time and “in succession“ [ANA MEROS- 1 Corinthians 14:27] by those of the body of Christ even spirit gifted members IN PARTICULAR [EK MEROUS – 1 Corinthians 12:27] according to that law of two or three witnesses that establishes a matter. The missing neuter singular substantive of the ellipsis in 1 Corinthians 13:10 according to the almost insecure practice by Paul to provide it somewhere in a near or far context of his letters, is found in the introductory material of 1 Corinthians 1:6 and it is the neuter singular word THE TESTIMONY [TO MARTURION]. Such confirming and archivable testimony or knowledge [GNOSIS] of Christ, as, actually, of every one of the revelatory gifts that would be written down by the scribes of Christ (Matthew 23:24 – wise men and scribes being a definition of or the duties of APOSTLES Luke 11:49), was being collected and collated into letters or books that also recorded teachings [confirmed testimony or knowledge - EPIGNOSIS 1 Corinthians 13:12, and its verb 1 Corinthians 14:37] derived from the individual testimonies [ or GNOSIS - knowledge] and traditions that we have to be concerned with [2 Thessalonians 2:15], which Paul, even then was beginning to gather.
      This discovery of the substantive of the ellipsis of 1 Corinthians 13:10 would give that verse this rendering if we supplied that missing substantive, “But when may come the complete [archivable] TESTIMONY then the [archivable] TESTIMONY in part [or the practice of individual gifted members of the Body of Christ giving their knowledge in succession according to the law of two or three witnesses] shall be done away. This LAST archivable testimony would be given by the last surviving eyewitness, the Apostle John, in his LAST eyewitness testimony, the Gospel of John, and His last Prophecy testimony, REVELATIONS, and his LAST admonition to adhere to the desire of Paul to exalt AGAPE unconditional love, his Epistles of John, and in his LAST PROPHECY, we get this LAST testimony of Jesus Christ in the very last words to be ever written down:

      Revelation 22:16-20(KJV)

      16I Jesus have sent mine angel to TESTIFY unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.

      17And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

      18For I TESTIFY unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

      19And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

      20He which TESTIFIETH these things saith, SURELY I COME QUICKLY. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
      And with that last AMEN, the last confirming of the testimony of Jesus, who during His life on earth, confirmed His words with a double AMEN according to the law of two or three witnesses that establishes a matter, we have that COMPLETING ARCHIVABLE TESTIMONY that does away with the practice of Spirit gifted members of the body of Christ, “the pillar and foundation of truth,” the only real magesterium to have existed, giving their testimony according to the law of two or three witnesses. The surviving gift of discerning of spirits (spirituals – the fruit of testifying which is knowledge) that still gifted teachers possess today, can take from the entire mind of God of everything He desires us to know or has freely given to us [2 Corinthians 2:12], and makes it easy for us to spread the individual testimonies extracted from that archive of testimonies, The Bible, and PRIVATELY bring out that doctrine, or teaching, according to the law of two or three witnesses, provided we heed THIS warning from Peter in 2 Peter 1:20, in this corrected translation of the verse that had been treacherously translated by Rome from the Greek, “This first knowing that every prophecy of scripture is NOT of its OWN INTERPRETATION.” This is one of the corollaries of the law of multiple witnesses that is stated by Moses in this generalized form, “in the mouth of one witness shall no man be put to death,” or as stated by Jesus, “If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.”
      We no longer need to be afraid of the testimony of “prophets” falsely so called, today and unless what they are saying is jiving with the ONLY ARCHIVE of prophecy extant, then we can call them a liar to their face. HOWEVER, Paul seems to forbid us the extravagance of being rude, and wants us to not so forcibly strive with those “without knowledge” in that 1 Corinthians 13, which denies the churches beyond John the Apostle to claim the mantle of prophet, has established in place of that absence of the gift of prophecy, the more excellent way of Agape unconditional love. And John has testified in the Gospel of John that Jesus says, “IN THIS shall ALL (men) KNOW that YE ARE MY DISCIPLES, in that ye have love [AGAPE] ONE TO ANOTHER.” That is how John the Apostle puts his AMEN to the writings of Paul as did Peter in his epistles who, also, was doing commentary on the writings of Paul.
      The last seven years, however, of the entire age before Christ’s return to the earth will see a renewal of the Spirit giving gifts to those saints we preview in Revelations. There will again be prophets and marvels and miracles and other amazing works. The prophecy of Paul concerning the gifts and prophecy being done away with was only for the age of the gentiles as personified in the assemblies of Christ, in visible and local manifestations of His Body, built upon the concept of the law of two or three witnesses, HEADED by the words of testimony by Peter “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” of which Paul was peculiarly tasked to minister. There IS no invisible or visible universal church.
      I believe that Paul had a taste of his longing to sit down with the complete mind of God of those things He desires us to know
      Deuteronomy 29:29(KJV)

      29The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.

      1 Corinthians 2:12-16(KJV)

      12Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
      13Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual [this is that involving discerning of spirits that existed then and now].

      14But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned [involved with discerning of spirits].

      15But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

      16For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
      I believe he had that taste towards the end of his life when he brought together almost all of those involved in the final archiving of the testimony that we call the New Testament, perhaps with the already collated Hebrew Scriptures as well. The commentary of Paul’s completed writings by Peter and by John the Apostle, no doubt, was missing along with one or two books that appear to be dependent on Peter’s testimony. But Paul gathered, along with the parchments and the books he had requested, at least two of those involved in writing, such as John Mark and Luke, with Matthew’s testimony, possibly some of which having been borrowed from Mark, among the books or parchments:

      2 Timothy 4:11-13(KJV)

      11Only LUKE is with me. Take MARK, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.

      12And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus.

      13The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the BOOKS, but especially the PARCHMENTS.
      I suspect that at THIS time when all were gathered together, Paul and his cronies put together an archived collection of written testimony that awaited only Peter’s and the Apostle John’s contribution, and it was that collected work of Paul’s at this time that Peter and later John, who may have inherited the archive from Peter at his death, made commentary on the works of Paul, John giving his own testimony to amen that of the whole proto-collection.
      Of course I have not answered your whole corpus of contradiction to the understanding of the responsible dispensationalists, but I believe the simple overlooking of the Jews protestation of desiring a sign “FROM HEAVEN” and Jesus denying them such a sign by giving them only a sign of Jonah, apparently concerning His death, burial, and resurrection in three days, has defeated your contention that there is only ONE “this generation” of concern and that is the one contemporaneous with Christ, and the apostles prior to the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. I have been too long among the 9-11 truthers and anti-Semites/anti-Israel in this movement. None of them have stopped to compare Jesus admonition to love their enemies, and to do good to them, and then compare what was done by the righteous gentiles, in how they did good works to those that could be possible called enemies but are then the brethren of Christ – the Jews. The despicable Jews of today may soon get their comeuppance when two thirds of them are destroyed when God begins to plead with the first of His people. The balance will be brethren for whom we are to rejoice in their day of salvation.

  25. Stephen Ray Hale says:

    I too believe “generation” to be that of a span of lifetime. I absolutely agree that there was a forty year period from the Death of John the Baptist in March AD 31 to the August destruction of the temple in 70 AD according to the days of the children of Israel coming out of the land of Egypt forty years according to the 360 day years they actually experienced before about 700 BC when the years began to become 365.242196 days long. This was the generation of the marvelous sign gifts to the Jews, the one that only that evil generation could experience the unpardenable sin – the sting being in that they would not live their full lifetime, in that Jews were fixated on “living in the land.” I believe that this generation would NOT see a sign from heaven as demanded Jesus by the Jews and that is why you are SO wrong to presume that the “this generation” of Mathew 24 which had multiple signs from heaven and marked the salvation of the Jews (two thirds ELECT, the beloved brethren of Jesus of Matthew 25 – for those of us who believe in election and predestination) belonged to “this evil generation” which were denied any signs from heaven. “This generation” seeing the signs is not for us in the age of the church (visible and local assemblies established along the lines of the law of testimony of two or three witnesses that establishes a matter), it belongs on the other side of the rapture, and unlike the “this evil generation” which lasted the full forty years before destruction came, the “this generation” seeing signs from heaven lasted approximately seven years, not even completing the full forty years before things were accomplished and the thousand year kingdom of living Jews and living gentiles who were nice to the Jews, answers every problem of immediacy you have manufactured to deny the straight forward telling of events found in the Bible. Both “this generation(s)” COULD have been the same generation were the Jews corporately willing to recognize Jesus as the prophet Moses predicted according to the prophecy given him by God, miffed at the denial of the first set of evil generation Israelites unwilling to risk what they thought as instant death to see a God of fire and thunder and smoke, to send God in a soft glove of Flesh, though meek in demeaner, the denial of his words given to Him by God the Father, had repurcusions as experienced in 70 AD. We who believe in the forknowledge of God (Calvinists if you please) KNEW that the positive scenario would not take place and so there had to be a dividing where a future elect would experience the salvation of the land. Sorry I do not have space to develope this for you further, but I could answer single questions to spend the allotment of space here to expound.

  26. Greg Finch says:

    Thanks very much for the response . . . I know what I’m referencing is the general resurrection, but I just don’t know what events accompany that event – what ‘the end of the world’ looks like. When I read your articles, I understand what you’re saying about the end of the age being the end of the Jewish age and the dawning of the kingdom of Christ as it exists in the Christian age. I just don’t know how to think about the end of the world as we NOW know it. It sounds as though you’re just comfortable with saying that we don’t know . . . and I’m also fine with that.

    On a related note, my understanding is that Christ is currently in the same (bodily) form as he was in when he disappeared into the clouds, yet my understanding of heaven (the dwelling place of God and the angels) is that it is a spiritual realm. I have never heard a satisfying explanation of exactly how a resurrected Christ is currently living in heaven – and I know that “when he appears we will be like him.”

    Similarly, I wonder how Jesus the Son is able to manifest all the attributes of the Deity when he is in his current form. The Word that we read about in John 1 sounds like a more metaphysical sort of being.

    Any thoughts you would care to offer would be much appreciated.

  27. Nathan says:

    Gary, great info. I was curious about this statement of yours though, “We get our new bodies either at death or at the general resurrection. I’m fine with either position.” Reason being, it seems there used to (as in reformatoin times, possbily Luther himself.) be more of a diversity of opinion concerning the “intermidate state” or what occurs at death. Now it seems like there is only one position, which is, we go to heaven immediately. But do you have any sourses that suggest we actually sleep until the resurrection? Your comment seems to hint either way unless I’m reading it incorrectly.

  28. Gary DeMar says:

    Let’s suppose you were able to ask Peter these same questions? What would he have said? Could he have envisioned everything that would happen in the nearly 2000 years since he was given the prophecy? I don’t think so unless it came by way of revelation. We haven’t been told what’s next. I suspect that the next eschatological event for you and me is death. We get our new bodies either at death or at the general resurrection. I’m fine with either position.

    • Kerry says:

      Gary,
      I know your position, (at least I think so) and I’m sure I can’t change your mind, but I would disagree that the general resurrection is in the future.
      I don’t believe you can separate the resurrection of the righteous and unrighteous in Daniel 12, from the generation of Jesus in which there is a judgment predicted to occur at the Lord’s return. Daniel 12 specifically speaks of the Messiah. In my mind, all this has been done. This of course is my opinion, and you won’t change my mind at this point either.

      I do greatly enjoy your articles, and the work you do. From everything I have read, this may be one of the only things we disagree on. Keep up the good work.

  29. Greg Finch says:

    I have been characterized as an amillenialist, and agree with the above. I have heard that that equates with being a ‘partial preterist,’ but that Gary DeMar, etc., are simply ‘preterists.’

    Where is the disconnect, and (more importantly) just what IS the next event? WHEN do we get our new resurrected bodies, and WHERE do those bodies live?

    Please, no derisive responses . . . I have been reading these articles and generally agree with them – but ISN’T there still SOME event that is going to happen after which everyone will be judged and then the world will be restored to its state of sinless perfection – with Christians as its inhabitants?

    Thanks.

    • ethan says:

      The next event is the second coming of Christ (Acts 1:11 and 3:20-21, 1 Corinthians 15:23b, Philippians 3:20, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), the resurrection and final judgment (Matthew 13:30, 41-43; Revelation 20:11-15, 1 Corinthians 15:24, 26, 50-55; John 5:28-29, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Philippians 3:21) , and the delivering of the kingdom up to God the Father (1 Corinthians 15:24), which will occur at the last day (John 6:40).

      The resurrected bodies will live in the consummated new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21:1-5), which will actually be the same earth, but with the curse lifted (Romans 8:19-21).

      Soli Deo gloria!

  30. Paul says:

    Amen!

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