Monday, December 29, 2003

Lesson 7: Bringing in the Kingdom: Postmillennialism from a partial-preterist perspective (part 5)

The End of the Jewish Age

Preterism has distinctive views of two recurring phrases in scripture: The Day of The Lord and The end of the age. As we have seen, preterism does not take The Day of the Lord to mean the Second Coming, which is obviously something to look forward to, but an awful event (from a human perspective), namely the Roman invasion. Preterists point out that The Day of the Lord is virtually always associated with God’s wrath: (Is. 2:12, 13:6, 13:9; Jer 46:10; Ezek 13:5, 30:3; Joel 1:15, 2:1; 2:11, 2:31; Amos 5:18, 520; Ob 1:15; Zeph 1:7, 1:14; Zech 14:1; Mal. 4:5; Acts 2:20).

Preterism teaches that an age ended with the destruction of Jerusalem, The Jewish Age or dispensation. This is consistent with Jewish Messianic theology which taught that the current age would end with the coming of the Messiah, and a new age, The Kingdom of Heaven, would be inaugurated. Preterists say that this is exactly what happened, exactly what John the Baptist foretold:

1In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea 2and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." 3This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: "A voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.' " 4John's clothes were made of camel's hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. 5People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. 6Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 7But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? (Matt. 3:1-7)

In the Olivet Discourse we read that the end of the age (Matt. 24:3) is tightly coupled with the destruction of the temple and the return of Christ. In Luke 21 we read:

They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (Luke 21:24)

There are many views as to the "times" (age) of the Gentiles, for example the dispensational view of an intercalation. In general there is agreement that something will end (or be placed in abeyance) and something else will begin. The preterist view is that Jewish age ended and the new age (of the New Covenant) began. 156

Concerning why this had to happen (apart from the fact that it is the fulfillment of prophecy), there are different views, some not so politically correct (which doesn’t make them wrong):

the annihilation of the Jewish nationality therefore removed the most formidable antagonist of the gospel and brought rest and relief to suffering Christians. 157

Indeed, we often think of Roman persecution of early Christians, but before the Jewish nation was destroyed, it was Jewish persecution of Christians that was rampant. In fact, and somewhat ironically, the most common cause for the charge of blasphemy and the concomitant death penalty was teaching of the coming destruction of the Temple and end of the Jewish age. Recall the charges against Stephen:

For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us." (Acts 6:14)

An impetus for the belief that the Jewish age ended comes from, as with most everything in preterism, a sense of imminence of “the end” in scripture. There is quite a lot of scripture, fittingly in the book of Hebrews (written about eight years before the destruction of Jerusalem) that indicates something is about to end:

1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; (Heb 1:1-2)

In that He says, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. (Heb 8:13)

not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. (Heb 10:25)

For in just a very little while, "He who is coming will come and will not delay. (Heb 10:37)

James also teaches that the end is near:

8You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near. 0Don't grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! (James 5:8-9)

A teaching that one age is ending and another begins is also found in an unexpected place, a passage that is more notable for its description of an unforgivable sin:

Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. (Matt 12:32)

The Greek phrase used is aeoni houtay en toe mellonti, literally translated as age about to come. 158 Similar language is used by Paul:

far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. (Eph 1:21)

Some of the strongest "end of this age" scripture is found in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians:

29But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none, 30those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, 31and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away. (1 Cor. 7:29-31)

Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. (1 Cor 10:11)

Russell writes of 1 Cor 10:11:

The phrase “the end of the ages” [ta tele ton aionon] is equivalent to “the end of the age” [e sunteleia tou aionos], and “the end” [to telos]. They all refer to the same period, viz. the close of the Jewish age, or dispensation, which was now at hand… It is sometimes said that the whole period between the incarnation and the end of the world is regarded in the New Testament as “the end of the age.” But this bears a manifest incongruity in its very front. How could the end of a period be a long protracted duration? Especially how could it be longer than the period of which it is the end? More time has already elapsed since the incarnation than from the giving of the law to the first coming of Christ: so that, on this hypothesis, the end of the age is a great deal longer than the age itself. 159

Russell argues against futurism which has, in effect, the end of the Jewish age as a period that is of greater duration than the age itself.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. A partial list of passages that teach of the nearness of the end includes: Matt 10:22-23, 26:64; Rom 13:11-12; 1 Cor 7:31, 10:11; Phil 4:5; Heb 1:1-2, 8:13, 10:25, 10:37; James 5:8-9; 1 Pet 4:7; 1 John 2:18; Rev 1:1, 1:3, 3:11, 22:6-7, 22:10, 22:12, 22:20.

156 Some would arguethat the two ages overlapped during the forty intervening years from Christ's ministry to the Roman invasion.
157 John Stewart Russell, The Parousia, p. 163.
158 Roman Catholics cite this verse as support for purgatory (the age to come).
159 John Stuart Russell, The Parousia, pp. 94-95 as quoted by Sproul The Last Days According to Jesus, pp. 89-90.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Spong’s Blasphemy

For amusement purposes, I signed up for a trial version of the enlightened Episcopalian Bishop John Shelby Spong’s Q&A mailing. (You too can sign up, here.) It is fun to follow the bishop's follies and to try to understand his thought process.

Here is a bit from my last two emails:

A reader asked a question based on Spong’s teaching that the stories of Jesus’ miraculous birth are "pious legends". Spong’s partial response:
There is no reputable New Testament scholar in the world today, either Catholic or protestant, who regards the birth stories of Matthew and Luke as history. I say reputable because there are a few evangelical fundamentalists and pre-Vatican II Roman Catholics who have not yet caught up with the last 150 years of biblical scholarship.

Yep, there are a few of us Luddites and Bumpkins that still believe in the Virgin birth. Spong goes on to argue that, in effect, the Jesus story is a "retelling" of Messianic prophecy, rather than its fulfillment. In other words it is not prophecy at all. A story is told once in the Old Testament (e.g., Abraham and Sarah) and then retold in the New Testament (Zechariah and Elizabeth).

Another reader asks Spong about Bishop Kelshaw of the Diocese of Rio Grande. Bishop Kelshaw has dissociated himself from gay Bishop Robinson of (it grieves me to say) New Hampshire. In addition to being blasphemous, Spong demonstrates that he can engage in an ad hominem attack:
The Diocese of the Rio Grande, under the leadership of its present bishop, Terrence Kelshaw, has drifted into the backwaters of the Episcopal Church. It was once an exciting Diocese. Bishop Kelshaw had a hard time adjusting to women priests and he clearly has a hard time with the issue of homosexuality. He is not highly regarded in the House of Bishops. I remember one occasion in the House of Bishops when he was supposed to lead the House in a discussion on Evangelism. His presentation was so poorly prepared and incompetent that the vast majority of the bishops decided that they needed a coffee break or a toilet break, so more bishops were in the halls than on the floor of the House. He has very little respect in the House except among the most ultra-reactionary types and they are few in number. He is not even a leader among them.
I highly recommend Bishop Spong for your amusement.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Lesson 7: Bringing in the Kingdom: Postmillennialism from a partial-preterist perspective (part 4)

When was Revelation Written?

The dating of Revelation is as important as it is disputed. Some favor an early date (A.D. 64-69) while some a later date (~A.D. 90). 147

The reason for its importance is that a later date annihilates preterism. According to preterism, the Revelation is largely about the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, and not about a future end-times "great tribulation". A partial motivation for this view, as we discussed last time, is that John’s wrote with an overall sense of imminence. If Revelation was written after Jerusalem was destroyed, as the later-date would have it, then obviously Revelation is not about that event, and preterism is dead.

Recently the later date has been in favor, partly because it precludes preterism. Preterism is anathema to the majority and opposite view of futurism, which holds that these events (described in Revelation and the Olivet discourse) have yet to occur. In one frank admission, a renowned premillennialist wrote of his support for a late date because "it destroys the entire theory [of preterism]."148

Another push for a later date comes from liberalism. In general, liberals favor later dates for all New Testament scripture. This lends support to their argument that the writings have been altered and should be viewed as culturally biased guidelines (if not outright frauds) rather than inerrant and infallible.

Neither a desire to discredit preterism nor a desire to support liberalism says anything about the legitimacy of a later date. Dating Revelation must be done on the basis of evidence.

The idea that Revelation was written before the destruction of Jerusalem is not new. The debate is usually cast in terms of who was the Roman Emperor when John was exiled to Patmos and had his vision. Was it Nero who reigned from A.D. 54-68 or Domitian who reigned from A.D. 81-96.

The evidence for dating Revelation is both external (from outside the Bible) and internal (from within the Bible). We will look at both.

External Evidence for a Later Date

The external evidence for a later date comes from the church father Irenaeus [140-203]. He was a disciple of Polycarp who was a disciple of the Apostle John himself. In his book Against Heresies, Irenaeus wrote:
"We will not, however, incur the risk of pronouncing positively as to the name of Antichrist; for if it were necessary that his name should be distinctly revealed in this present time, it would have been announced by him who beheld the apocalyptic vision. For that was seen no (sic) very long time since, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian's reign."

Several other church fathers state that John was exiled during Domitian’s reign. However, it is quite possible that they base their assertions of Irenaeus' writing.
Scholars such as Gentry149 and F. H. Chase150 argue that the most straightforward interpretation is that the antecedent of that in the sentence "For that was seen…" was John, not John’s vision.151 The Greek has a masculine form that could refer to either. In other words, Gentry, for example, would argue that a better interpretation is:
If we needed to know who the antichrist is, then John would have told us. He lived almost to our generation, well into the reign of Domitian".

Whether or not this is what Irenaeus meant is pure speculation. However, one thing is fairly certain: Irenaeus' statement is the strongest evidence for the late date. It is held to prove that John had his vision sometime during Domitian’s reign [A.D. 81-96], which would place it about A.D.90.

External Evidence for an Early Date

Irenaeus also supplies some evidence for an early date, for he wrote about "ancient copies" of Revelation. If, as late-date proponents would have us believe, that in the quote above Irenaeus was stating that the vision (which necessarily preceded the writing) was seen "almost in our day" then it is hard to square with his reference to "ancient copies" of Revelation.

Clement of Alexandria [A.D. 150-215] wrote:
When after the death of the tyrant he [John] removed from the island of’ Patmos to Ephesus, he used to journey by request to the neighboring districts of the Gentiles, in some places to appoint bishops, in others to regulate whole churches, in others to set among the clergy some one man, it may be, of those indicated by the Spirit.152

There are two things to say about this:
  1. The "tyrant" is unnamed. However, history shows that this is by far a more apt description of Nero than of Domitian. There is voluminous evidence of widespread persecution of Christians under Nero, and little to no evidence for a similar treatment under Domitian.

  2. The date of John’s birth is not know, but it is generally assumed that he was born about the same time as Christ. After the death of Nero, he would have been in his sixties. After the death of Domitian, he would have been in his nineties. The activities that Clement ascribes to John are more befitting a sixty-something than a ninety something. Clement also writes of the post-exile John as "pursing a young apostate on horseback." Again, this would seem to indicate a younger man.

Another relevant and interesting statement from Clement is:
"For the teaching of our Lord at His advent, beginning with Augustus and Tiberius, was completed in the middle of the times of Tiberius. And that of the apostles, embracing the ministry of Paul, end with Nero."153

Clement states that apostolic revelation ended with the death of Nero (A.D. 68). It would seem inescapable that Clement believed that John wrote Revelation before that date, and consequently at least two years before the destruction of Jerusalem.

Additional external evidence for an early date:
  • The Muratorian Canon (circa A.D. 170) which says that the apostle Paul wrote to seven churches after John wrote Revelation. Tradition teaches that Paul died around A.D. 67-68.

  • Tertullian [A.D. 160-220] writes that John was exiled the same time that Paul and Peter where killed. Again, tradition teaches that Paul and Peter where martyred circa A.D. 67-68.

  • Epiphanius [A.D. 315-403] writes (twice) that Revelation was written during the reign of Nero.

  • The Syriac version of the canon (6th century) has a heading to Revelation: "Written in Patmos, whither John was sent by Nero Caesar".

Internal Evidence for a Late Date

I do not know any. If you do, please share that information.

Internal Evidence for an Early Date

One piece of internal evidence for an early date is the deafening silence regarding the destruction of Jerusalem. If Jerusalem had already been destroyed, with well over a million Jews killed, hundreds of thousands of others in bondage, and the rest scattered, not to mention the temple in ruins, it is reasonable to expect that such a catastrophic event would warrant a mention.

In fact, no book of the New Testament mentions the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, and the genocide unleashed on the Jews by the Romans. This is very consistent (and may be the source of) Clement’s teaching that apostolic revelation ended with Nero.

Direct internal evidence comes in many forms. We will look at only two. The first is that Revelation itself describes the Temple as still standing:
1 I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, "Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, and count the worshipers there. 2 But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months. (Rev. 11:1-2).

We have already noted the intriguing fact that the Jewish revolt, as recorded by Josephus, lasted about 42 months. Here we merely note that the passage indicates that at the time of writing the temple is still standing prior to the trampling of the Gentiles.

The Sixth King

Another piece of internal evidence comes from the identity of the sixth king.
7 When I saw her, I was greatly astonished. Then the angel said to me: "Why are you astonished? I will explain to you the mystery of the woman and of the beast she rides, which has the seven heads and ten horns. 8 The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and will come up out of the Abyss and go to his destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because he once was, now is not, and yet will come.
9 "This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. 10 They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while. 11 The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction.
(Rev 17:7-11).

First, we identify the kings as Roman emperors on the basis of the "seven hills." Only one city is known throughout history as the "City of Seven Hills: Rome.154 This identifies the "beast" as Rome; not as in the Papacy but as in the Roman Empire.

The passage indicates that at the time of writing, five have fallen, the sixth presently reigns, and the seventh has not yet come, but when he does come, he will reign for just a little while.

The most natural counting scheme of Roman kings (emperors) is:

King (Emperor)   Reign  
1) Julius Caesar  49-44
2) Agustus        31-14
3) Tiberius        14-37
4) Caligula        37-41
5) Claudius       41-54
6) Nero            54-68
7) Galba           68-69
8) Otho            69-69
9) Vitellius         69-69
10) Vespasian     69-79
11) Titus            79-81
12 Domitian        81-96

This enumeration is not universally accepted (the debate is whether to begin the count with Julius Caesar or Augustus), but it is found in various ancient sources including our friend Josephus, who refers to Augustus as “the second” and Tiberius as “the third.” This enumeration places Nero as the sixth and "current" king from the perspective of Revelation. Note that no enumeration results in Domitian as the sixth king. The most biased in that direction is to start with Augustus and skip (as inconsequential) Galba, Otho, and Vitellius. That still results in Vespasian, not Domitian as number six.

147 It is interesting that the debate is a choice between approximately A.D. 65 and A.D. 90. There is little argument for a compromise date in the 70s or 80s. This is significant, as we shall see.
148 Dave Hunt, Whatever Happened to Heaven? (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House), 1988, p. 249.
149 Gentry, Before Jerusalem Fell, pp. 50-51
150 F. H. Chase, “The Date of the Apocalypse: The Evidence of Irenaeus”, Journal of Theological Studies 8, (1907), pp. 431-432.
151 Those who originally translated Irenaeus' work into English complained of the poor condition of the manuscript evidence for his work. They wrote: 'The great work of Irenaeus, now for the first time translated into English, is unfortunately no longer extant in the original. It has come down to us only in an ancient Latin version, with the exception of a greater portion of the first book, which has been preserved in the original Greek, through means of the copious quotations made by Hippolytus and Epiphanius. The text, in both Latin and Greek, is often most uncertain."
152 Clement of Alexandria, Who is the Rich Man that shall be Saved?, Section 42
153 Clement, Miscellanies 7:17.
154 The seven hills are: Palatine, Aventine, Caelian, Esquiline, Viminal, Quirinal, and Capitoline

Monday, December 22, 2003

Why Preterism? (cont.)

Note: This is a basically a rerun of a post from last year. However, it fits into my Sunday school course, so for continuity purposes I am including it (with slight tweaks).

The Day of the Lord

In a final note on our mini introduction, we look at the phrase The Day of the Lord and at some familiar but confusing passages from Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians.
13Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18Therefore encourage each other with these words. (1 Th 4: 13:18)

It is beyond dispute that this passage refers to the Second Coming and the rapture. It speaks of the coming of the Lord, not the day of the Lord. It also answers the concern as to the fate of those that have already died. There is some issue of “tense” in verse 14, but I believe it means that those who have died are already in heaven, just not with a resurrected body. Others believe they are sleeping until the bodily resurrection. No matter, they are/will be with Christ (if they were saved by faith). If we look at another passage:
We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. (2 Cor. 5:8)

We see that Paul seems to teach that there is a way to be with the Lord while without a body, which argues that the dead saints are not sleeping but in heaven. For at the end of the age, all the saints will have resurrected bodies, and so if the dead saints are presently "sleeping" until the final judgment, that would imply at no time would they be "away from the body and at home with the Lord."

That is a secondary issue. Most importantly, there is not much contention among the different eschatologies (except for full preterism, which we are not addressing) that Paul is writing in 1 Th. 4 of the Second Coming. When we look into the next chapter of 1 Thessalonians, things get dicey.
1Now, 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. 3While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. (1 Th. 5:1-4)

This is tough. The common evangelical interpretation is that the rapture (with or without the visible Second Coming) comes like a thief in the night, that is, without warning. That may be a correct interpretation. It is a natural one in the sense that everyone agrees 1 Th. 4 is about the Second Coming, so it is reasonable to assume that 1 Th. 5 is speaking of the same event.

But maybe not. There are some issues. They are:

  • Paul writes of the day of the Lord coming like a thief in the night. Is the day of the Lord synonymous with the Second Coming? Hold that thought for now.

  • Dispensational Premillennialists who interpret this as speaking of the rapture, also argue that the signs of the times (especially the establishment of Israel) indicate the end is near. How can pinpointing Christ’s return to this generation be consistent with "a thief in the night" metaphor?

  • Is Paul misleading them (because he erroneously believes the Second Coming is imminent)? He writes “this day should [not] surprise you like a thief.” He did not write: "Should it occur in our lifetime, and I don’t know that it will, it should not surprise you." His writing seems to go beyond hoping for the event to prophetic certainty.

The key to this is in the meaning of the day of the Lord.

Let us now turn to 2 Thessalonians:
1Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, 2not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. 3Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4He 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. 5Don't you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? 6And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. 7For 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. 8And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. 9The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, 10and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. (2 Th. 2: 1-12).

I would suggest that there are two self consistent exegeses:

If 1 Th. 4 and 5 refer to the Second Coming, and 1 Th. 5 uses the phrase day of the Lord, then it would seem that 2 Th. 2 also refers to the second Coming. This is the common evangelical position.

Alternatively, if 1 Th. 4 refers to the Second Coming, and 1 Th. 5 refers to something else, then 2 Th. 2 would also refer to that something else, the so called day of the Lord.

So in the first view, 2 Th. 2 also refers to the Second Coming. Mathison points out but a few of the problems with this interpretation. I will paraphrase his points:146

  • If is referring to the Second Coming, how could the Thessalonians be worried that it had already occurred, given that Paul taught them in 1 Thessalonians that it was associated with the rapture and resurrection? Did they think that everyone in their community was “left behind?” Did they think Paul himself was left behind? Or were they thinking of some other event, and wondering if it had occurred (as had apparently been reported in a counterfeit epistle.)

  • If Paul is trying to reassure them that the Second Coming has not yet occurred, why would he do so by telling them “the man of lawlessness has not been revealed and is being held back?” Such a scenario is not consistent with any view of what the earth would be like had the Second Coming occurred. Would he not appeal to more obvious rebuttals, such as: hey I’m still here, and all of you are still here, let’s get real people.

  • All of this passage refers to something that has not yet happened, but is categorically about to happen. It is not hoped that it will happen, as in we hope Christ returns today, but Paul is talking about something that definitely will happen soon. So it is hard to imagine he is speaking of the Second Coming, unless once again we assume he mislead the Thessalonians. He spoke of the man of lawlessness (a man, not Satan) who was being restrained now, and about the power already at work.

The second view suffers none of these problems. It does have the following presupposition:

In the first epistle, Paul is answering two concerns from the Thessalonians. The first is what will happen to those who have already died? This is answered in 1 Th. 4. The second concern is: When is the day of the Lord? This unspecified event is addressed in 1 Th. 5 and later in 2 Th. 2, when there is another question raised, one of a false report that it had already occurred.

For preterists, the answer seems obvious (although that doesn't make it right.) The day of the Lord refers to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70., an event we discussed last time. This is an event that is underestimated in terms of its awfulness, it significance, and its role in redemptive history. The man of lawlessness (he doesn’t have to be identified as the antichrist, although he might be, if there is such a man) who was already alive at the time would then be Caesar Nero.

Note that this view, which brings coherency to these passages from 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, is also consistent with other occurrences of the phrase day of the Lord which clearly are associated with God's wrath. (Is. 2:12, 13:6, 13:9; Jer. 46:10; Ezek. 13:5, 30:3; Joel 1:15, 2:1; 2:11, 2:31; Amos 5:18, 520; Ob 1:15; Zeph. 1:7, 1:14; Zech 14:1; Mal. 4:5; Acts 2:20) It is something we should dread, not something, like the Second Coming, that we should look forward to.

Tomorrow we will look at the dating of Revelation.

146 Mathison, Postmillennialism, pp.228-233.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

I Ain't Dead Yet

Just on a very busy business trip to sunny Southern California. I will be back to blogging no later than next Monday. Take care y'all.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Why Preterism?

Preterism is motivated by the fact that the primary passages related to the tribulation have an overall tone of imminence.

In Matthew 23, leading up to the Olivet Discourse, Christ condemns the scribes and Pharisees of that current generation with a series of rebukes beginning with "Woe to you". He condemns them for the fact that they will beat and murder his disciples (which as we know from the book of Acts, did indeed happen). Jesus tells them the blood of the righteous will be upon them. And when will this happen? Jesus answers clearly: I tell you the truth, all this will come upon this generation (v. 36).

In Matthew 24, Jesus tells his disciples that the temple will be destroyed and describes the great tribulation. In v. 34, He says: I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. He began the sentence with "I tell you the truth" or "Verily". This was used for special emphasis on what followed, as if to say: pay careful attention to what I am about to say.

Why preterism? Because 37 years later, what that generation had not passed away, Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed. Why preterism? Because it fits.

Dispensationalists have two interpretations of "this generation". One is that it means race, meaning the Jews. However, this makes little sense. The tribulation is about the Jews. If generation means the Jews, the Christ is saying, in effect, The Jews will not pass away until these things happen to the Jews. Hardly seems worth the effort.

The other interpretation is that since we are talking about the tribulation, which occurs sometime in the future, generation refers to the generation that will be around during the tribulation. That has a similar problem, for Jesus is merely saying: Some you around during the tribulation will not pass away during the tribulation.

It is not just the Olivet discourse that has an "about to happen" tone. So does the book of Revelation. Recall how it opens:
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. (Rev 1:1a)

Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near. (Rev. 1:3)

The proclamation of the near term fulfillment is repeated at the end of the book:
The angel said to me, "These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place." (Rev. 22:6)

Then he told me, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near. (Rev. 22:10)

There are other verses in Revelation (1:19, 2:16, 3:10-11, 22:7, 22:12, 22:10) which also indicate that John expected a near term fulfillment. Preterists ask this question: If you think passages such as these do not imply imminence, then what could John have written differently if that was his intent?

We could go on and on about passages that speak about something happening soon. Let's just take one more, also from the book of Matthew:
I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom. (Matt. 16:28)

This passage has various difficult interpretations, but not for preterists. Preterists believe that Christ did return in wrath and judgment less than forty years after stating this prophesy, when some of those standing there were still alive. One traditional view of this passage is that it refers to what follows immediately in the text, in Matthew 17, the transfiguration. That is a troubled explanation, given that the transfiguration occurs six days after Christ spoke these words. It means that Christ was really saying: some of you will not be dead six days from now.

Monday, December 08, 2003


There will be light blogging over the next two weeks due to a variety of work-related demands, including a trip to the west coast.

I will be posting some more on the events of A.D. 70, and then on the dating of Revelation.

My Sunday School was cancelled yesterday, due to the snowstorm that hit the North East. That means that I am already set for next week, but it also contributes to the light blogging since my blogs have been coming from my Sunday School preps.

In reading Kenneth L. Gentry's He Shall Have Dominion I came across this footnote (P. 466):
It seems that too many even among evangelicals see evangelism as a manipulative method, rather than a delivering of the message of truth. One of the great evangelists of the last century, Dwight L. Moody, is praised by one writer as "the creator of many innovations in evangelism, such as the effective use of publicity organization, and advertising, and in so doing he 'completed the reduction of evangelism to a matter of technique and personality.' " George Dollar, A History of Fundamentalism in America, (Greenville, SC: Bob Jones University, 1973) p. xi. Mega-church fundamentalist Jack Hyles has even taught the necessity of having fresh breath when doing personal evangelism. That is because bad breath may turn off the potential convert, who may then die and go to hell. Jack Hyles, Let's go Soulwinning, (Murfreesboro, TN: Sword of the Lord, 1968).

Jack Hyles believed that the plans of a sovereign God could be thwarted by garlic toast. What a small God he must have had in mind.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Lesson 7: Bringing in the Kingdom: Postmillennialism from a partial-preterist perspective (part 1)

What is partial preterism?

Before looking at postmillennialism from partial-preterist perspective, we want to define preterism and contrast the partial and the full-preterist (sometimes called hyper-preterist) positions.

It is helpful in defining preterism to say what its opposite is: futurism. The premillennial views, especially dispensationalism, are inherently futuristic. They teach that virtually all the prophecy in the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24, Mark 13, Luke 21) and the book of Revelation (and elsewhere) has yet to transpire. Preterism takes the opposite view, and holds that most or all of the prophecy, including the tribulation, already happened in A.D. 70.

That is actually a good enough working definition for our purposes. However, it is helpful to say something about full-preterism versus partial-preterism. The following table comes courtesy of R. C. Sproul: 135

     Full Preterists     Partial Preterists
A.D. 70 End Times A.D. 70 End Times
Coming (Parousia) of Christ    yes no yes yes
Resurrection and rapture yes no no yes
Day of the Lord yes no yes yes
Judgment yes no yes yes

Full preterists believe that nothing remains requiring a future fulfillment. They teach that "the" Second Coming has already occurred as well as a (representative) resurrection, judgment and rapture. This view is in violent disagreement with, among other things, the historic creeds that define orthodoxy. The creeds, for example, teach of an actual bodily resurrection for all believers at the end of history.

Partial preterism teaches that Christ did return in judgment in A.D. 70, but the resurrection and final judgment await His coming in glory (the "real" Second Coming or Second Appearance) at the end of time.

From this point forward, we drop the "partial" when discussing preterism. The heterodox full-preterist view will never be part of this discussion.

Before discussing postmillennialism, I want to tackle two important precursor topics: the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, and dating the book of Revelation. In order for the preterist position to be sensible, the destruction of Jerusalem must be understood as an event of enormous magnitude and redemptive significance. And in order for preterism to exist as a viable theology, the book of Revelation must have been written prior to the events preterists say it foretells. John must have written Revelation before A.D. 70. It will not do to have John prophesying about something that already happened. Today, many scholars date Revelation at around A.D. 90. However, the early versus late date for Revelation is an ancient debate. We will look at some of the evidence.

The Destruction of Jerusalem

Today, most people do not recognize the magnitude and importance of the destruction of Jerusalem. For now, we will concentrate on the magnitude. Later we will discuss its significance in terms of redemptive history. When we discuss some of the particulars, ask yourself if the events that are described could fairly be called a time of great tribulation. To help you along, I will insert some passages from the Great Tribulation description in the Olivet Discourse, to help you make a connection.136

The date itself inspires little more than a Jeopardy-like reflexive association:

   The answer is: 1066      (Bzzt) When was the Battle of Hastings?
   The answer is: A.D. 70    (Bzzt) When did the Romans destroy Jerusalem?

We significantly underestimate the magnitude and horror of the Roman response to the Jewish Revolt (A.D. 66-70). I think most people view it as something similar to the British torching the White House (after enjoying a complementary dinner for 40 that had been prepared for Dolly Madison and friends, but abandoned as the canon neared) in the war of 1812.

Prior to its destruction, Jerusalem was a large and formidable walled city. As the Romans began responding to Jewish Revolt (A.D. 66-70) throughout the land, the population of Jerusalem swelled as many sought safety within her walls.

An important contributor to this discussion is the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (A.D. 37-101).137 Josephus was captured by the future Roman Emperor Vespasian who, early in the Jewish Revolt, led the assault on city of Jotapata. Josephus was the General in charge of defending Jotapata. Some accounts state that Josephus survived the ensuing slaughter (following a 45 day siege) by hiding in a deep pit. Josephus claimed that Vespasian spared him because of his incredible valor.

Much of what we quote below comes from Josephus' book The Jewish War.

Gentry points out that Josephus uses the Greek word apostasia to describe the Jewish revolt.138 This word is translated into English as "rebellion" or "apostasy" or "falling away". It can mean revolt when used in a political context or falling away (from the true faith) when used in a religious context. It is used in the New Testament only twice, in Acts 21:21 and here:
1Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, 2not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. 3Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. (2 Th. 2:1-3, NIV)

In verse 3, the NIV translates apostasia as "rebellion". The NASB uses "apostasy". And the NKJV uses "falling away".

Generally people view this passage as referring to a large scale apostasy against the true God in the end-times. Preterists view it as referring to the rebellion that led to the destruction of Jerusalem.

Jack Van Deventer139 lists some of the atrocities committed by the Romans (as described by Josephus) in a "dateline" manner.

Jerusalem (June 3, 66 A.D.)--"So the [Roman] soldiers did not only plunder the place they were sent to, but forcing themselves into every house, they slew its [Jewish] inhabitants; so the citizens fled along the narrow lanes, and the soldiers slew those that they caught, and no method of plunder was omitted; they also caught many of the quiet people, and brought them before Florus, whom he first chastised with stripes, and then crucified. Accordingly, the whole number of those that were destroyed that day, with their wives and children (for they did not spare even the infants themselves), was about 3,600."

Cesarea (66 A.D.)--"Now the people of Cesarea had slain the Jews that were among them. . . . [I]n one hour's time above 20,000 Jews were killed, and all Cesarea was emptied of its Jewish inhabitants; for Florus caught such as ran away, and sent them to the galleys."

Scythopolis and other cities (66 A.D.)--"The people of Scythopolis watched their opportunity, and cut all [the Jews'] throats, some of them as they lay unguarded, and some as they lay asleep. The number that was slain was above 13,000, and then they plundered them of all they had." "Besides this murder at Scythopolis, the other cities rose up against the Jews that were among them: those of Askelon slew 2,500, and those of Ptolemais 2,000, and put not a few in bonds; those of Tyre also put a great number to death, but kept a greater number in prison."

Alexandria (66 A.D.)--"These [Roman] soldiers rushed violently into that part of the city which was called Delta, where the Jewish people lived together [The Jews were] destroyed unmercifully; and this their destruction was complete, some being caught in the open field140, and others forced into their houses, which houses were first plundered of what was in them, and then set on fire by the Romans; wherein no mercy was shown to the infants, and no regard had to the aged; but they went on in the slaughter of persons of every age, till all the place was overflowed with blood, and 50,000 of them lay dead upon heaps. . . ."

Jotapata (July, 67 A.D.)--"[T]he Romans slew all the multitude that appeared openly; but on the following days they searched the hiding places, and fell upon those that were underground, and in the caverns, and went thus through every age, excepting the infants and the women, and of these there were gathered together as captives twelve hundred; and as for those that were slain at the taking of the city, and in the former fights, they were numbered to be 40,000.

The widespread slaughter of the Jews continued for several years. Many of the Jews fled to Jerusalem for safety.
24When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. "I am innocent of this man's blood," he said. "It is your responsibility!" 25All the people answered, "Let his blood be on us and on our children!" (Matt. 27:24-25)

The Jews asked that the blood be upon their hands. And so it was. In Jerusalem alone, Josephus records that 100,000 were captured, and 1.1 million killed. This does not include the Jews killed in other cities (as described above) as the Roman Juggernaut pushed forward.

After the Roman armies reached Jerusalem a lengthy siege ensued. The Romans bombarded the city with 90 pound stones hurled as far as 1200 feet by catapult. Josephus wrote that the tower watchmen would see the stones flying toward the city and warn the citizens with shouts of "The Son Cometh!".141

When the food began to run out within the walls, civil war broke out among three Jewish factions. Murder and starvation (There will be famines.. Matt. 24:7) were rampant.

Josephus wrote that this Jewish civil war inside the walls of a Jerusalem under siege wrought more carnage (if that can be imagined) than the conquering Romans. People who were thought to have consumed food were sometimes killed and disemboweled in search of food within their stomachs. There were many reports of cannibalism. Many tried to escape starvation by sneaking out of the city. Most were captured by the Romans, killed on the spot and disemboweled: the Romans believed that the Jews hid their valuables by swallowing them. If a father was killed searching for food, his wife and children became targets within the city.
"Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. (From Jesus' Olivet Discourse, Mark 13:12)

Josephus also described a scene of horror concerning a starving mother. In the midst of the famine she suddenly withdrew her nursing infant from her breast. She killed, roasted and ate half the child, and offered the rest to astonished and horrified bystanders.
How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! (From Jesus' Olivet Discourse, Matt. 24:19)

Interestingly, Josephus also castigated his fellow Jews as being "more wicked than any generation before it". That is reminiscent of how Jesus described the same generation. (That is how it will be with this wicked generation (Matt. 12:45) O unbelieving and perverse generation (Matt 17:17)).

It is also interesting to read Josephus' accounts of the events leading up to the war. In addition to many wars and rumors of wars, Josephus records that there was a rise of false prophets.
and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. (From Jesus' Olivet Discourse, Matt. 24:11)

What happened to the Christians?

According to the historian Eusebius (A.D. 260-340) Christians escaped from Jerusalem either before the siege or during a lull in the fighting. We can only believe that they knew and heeded the words of Christ:
16then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. 18Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. (From Jesus' Olivet Discourse, Matt. 24:16-18)

Preterists have this understanding of the passage above: If you are not in Jerusalem when war breaks out, do not return there for any reason. If you are there, get out.

More to come...

135 Sproul, The Last Days According to Jesus, p. 157.
136 Admittedly, the connection I want you to make.
137 Josephus was give, at birth, a proper Jewish name: Joseph ben Matthias. After being captured and then currying favor with his captor Vespasian (who later became emperor) Josephus became a Roman citizen and Romanized his name. Flavius was Vespasian’s family name. All this did not make him popular with his own people.
138 Kenneth L. Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, (Institute for Christian Economics), 2nd ed. (revised), 1997, pp. 401-402. I should have included this book in the list of references at the beginning of the course. It is probably the best book on postmillennialism ever written.
139 I only have an on-line reference, here.
140 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. (Matt. 24:40).
141 It is tempting to make much of the shout "the son cometh!", but the translation is not beyond dispute. Some argue the Josephus wrote "the stone cometh!".

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Lesson 6: Millennial Blessings for the Church (Part 5)

Note: This is the last of the posts on historic premillennialism. Those of you who have the outline will know that the next topic was supposed to be Covenant Theology. However, due to time constraints we will move directly into a discussion of postmillennialism. Furthermore, I was going to teach "vanilla" postmillennialism and, at the end of the course, discuss (partial) preterism. Time compression is also causing another change: Right out of the box I will combine the two topics and teach P4: postmillennialism from a partial-preterist perspective.

The bizarre nature of the millennium

If premillennialism is true, what are the implications for the nature of the millennium? This thread of reasoning, according to critics, leads to some peculiar conclusions.

Premillennialists assert (of necessity) that births will continue during the millennium. These new generations will include unbelievers, since we know there is to be a rebellion of unbelievers at the end of the millennium.

However, these new generations cannot be the descendents of resurrected saints, because they do engage in marital relations:

At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. (Matt. 22:30)

The only obvious solution is the presence of unresurrected unbelievers in the millennial kingdom. However, scripture denies the possibility of normal humans (let alone unbelievers) in the kingdom:
I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. (1 Cor. 15:20)

More to the point, evil is excluded:
41The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. (Matt. 13:41-43)

So again, the question is, where do these wicked who are to participate in the rebellion come from? According to Revelation 20, Satan, when released, deceives the nations, but these nations were already judged in Revelation 19:
From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. (Rev. 19:5)

The rebellion is ended by fire. (Rev 20:9). Who are these mysterious people who are deceived, rebel, and are destroyed by fire?

According to premillennialism, one group present during the millennium is the redeemed, raised from the dead and glorified. It is inconceivable that they are deceived. Nor can they generate deceivers, being of the resurrection. Therefore, it must be that there were present at the Second Coming normal humans who were not raised, glorified, or judged. They simply lived through the second coming. It must be this group that propagates the species.

This leads to the rather bizarre situation of the coexistence of resurrected saints, normal (sinful) humans, and Jesus Christ. Scripture does not mention such a possibility.

It is strangely reminiscent of the movie Alien Nation. Here you are a normal flesh and blood human, sinning, procreating, ailing, and aging (albeit, it would appear, to reduced degrees). Your next door neighbor has a glorified imperishable body. I wonder who has the nicer lawn.

How do some escape the judgment of the Second Coming? Consider that:
  • The righteous dead are raised

  • The righteous living meet Christ in the air and are also changed (1 Cor. 15: 50-55)

  • The wicked will be taken away (but not resurrected):

    37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage until the day Noah entered the arc, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. (Matt. 24:37-39)

Premillennialism, according to its critics, offers no good explanation for the identity of those who escape.

To summarize the problem:
  • The millennium begins with only the redeemed. The wicked, though not resurrected, are taken away (Matt. 24:39)

  • In fact, there should not be any normal humans period, including believers (1 Cor. 15:20).

  • In spite of this, there are born new, normal humans, ultimately from which a rebellion, led by Satan, is launched.

  • There is no credible explanation for where these people come from.

Amillennialist Kim Riddleberger puts it this way:
Therefore the apparent strength of premillennialism is actually its biggest weakness. If premillennialists are correct about their reading of Rev. 20, Jesus rules upon the earth over people in resurrected and unresurrected bodies during the millennial age. Our Lord's millennial age will end with a massive satanic deception of the nations and a revolt against Christ and His church after they have reigned on earth for a thousand years. If true, this millennial apostasy is tantamount to a second fall. 133

Another amillennialist Anthony Hoekema summarizes for many the discomfort with the premillennialist's millennium:

Why, for example, should believers be raised from the dead to live on an earth which is not yet glorified and which is still groaning because of the presence sin, rebellion, and death (Rom. 8:19-22)? Why should the glorified Christ have to come back to earth to rule over his enemies with a rod of iron and thus still have to endure opposition to his sovereignty? Was not this phase of His work completed during His humiliation? Is Christ not coming back in the fullness of glory to usher in, not an interim period of qualified peace and blessing, but the final state of unqualified perfection? 134

On that note, we end our discussion of historic premillennialism.

133 Riddleberger, Amillennialism, p. 233.
134 Anthony Hoekema, "Historic Premillennialism, an Amillennial Response", in Meaning of the Millennium, p. 59.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

The New Moneychangers

Still "Mr. Mom"-ing for another week until my wife gets back from Taiwan.

Found this interesting quote about Christian Bookstores:
My guess is that in the current Christian bookstore the simplistic books outweigh the simple books by at least 10 to 1. I've often wondered where Jesus would apply His hastily made whip if He were to visit our culture. My guess is that it would not be money-changing tables in the temple that would feel His wrath, but the display racks in Christian bookstores. -- R.C. Sproul, Lifeviews, (Revell 1986), p. 184.

Sproul was lamenting the lack of interest in doctrine, and the inordinate interest in "easy steps" instruction.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Lesson 6: Millennial Blessings for the Church (Part 4)

Critique of Historic Premillennialism

The strength of premillennialism is in its straightforward understanding of Revelation 19 as describing the Second Coming, and Revelation 20 as depicting an earthly millennium.

Critics contend that this simplistic, literal interpretation, attractive as it may be, is (a) contradicted by simpler, non-symbolic scripture elsewhere; and (b) leads to an untenable, bizarre situation in the millennium: the earth is populated (indeed repopulated) by normal human beings living alongside resurrected saints in glorified bodies, living saints who were caught up in the air when Christ returned, and Christ Himself. Nowhere in scripture does it teach of such an eclectic mix coexisting.

And it gets worse. In this peculiar citizenry we still find evil, sin and death. And from these kingdom inhabitants, a rebellion will arise. (Rev 20:9).

Problems, as we shall see, abound. Just for starters, in the millennium passage of Revelation 20 we read:
I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Rev. 20:4)

The millennium passage, the pride and joy of premillennialists of all stripes, when viewed closely, only talks of resurrected saints (actually, it can be argued that it does not even explicitly mention resurrected) as being part of the millennium.

Now it cannot be that that there are only resurrected saints in the premillennialist’s millennium, because nobody, absolutely nobody believes that saints in resurrected bodies are deceived by Satan and participate in the final rebellion.

We will come back to this point (tomorrow). For now, we move to more mundane criticisms.

The nature and timing of the kingdom

Premillennialism naturally views the kingdom of God as awaiting the millennium for its consummation. Yet critics argue that scripture teaches the kingdom is not future and physical but rather spiritual and present.
And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, (Luke 22:29)

20Once, 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, 21nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:20-21)

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." (John 18:36)

These and other passages do not point a future physical kingdom but a present spiritual kingdom inaugurated by Christ during his ministry. This is what John the Baptist spoke of:
In those days, John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. (Matt. 3:1-2)

The duration of the kingdom

Premillennialists view the future kingdom as finite. It lasts a given time (most say 1000 years) and afterwards we enter the eternal state. Critics argue that the kingdom has no end:
32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; ." (Luke 1:32-33)

The two resurrectionshis kingdom will never end

As we discussed, premillennialists expect two resurrections based on their reading of Rev. 20. One (the righteous) occurs at the beginning; the other (of the wicked) at the end. Much scripture, however, depicts a single general resurrection at the time of Christ’s return:

Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29and come out--those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. (John 5:28-29)

Furthermore, they will face a single, comprehensive judgment at His coming:
31"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. (Matt. 25:31-33)

they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." (Matt. 25:46)

The wicked will be judged at the Second Coming, not 1000 years later:
9They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power 10on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you. (2 Th. 1:9-10)

The final enemy

According to the Apostle Paul, the final enemy of Christ is death, and death is defeated at the resurrection of the righteous:
25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (1 Cor. 15:25-26)

50I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed-- 52in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory." 55"Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" (1 Cor. 15: 50-55)

According to premillennialism, the final enemy of Christ is Satan, and he is defeated 1000 years after the resurrection of the righteous. Many premillennialists acknowledge that death is the true final enemy, and are forced to argue that in spite of 1 Cor. 15, death is not actually defeated until the end of the millennium.