Friday, November 28, 2003

Lesson 6: Millennial Blessings for the Church (Part 3)

More Support for Two Resurrections

In addition to the passage in Revelation 20, historic premillennialists find additional support for two bodily resurrections in other scripture131. A literal translation of Phi. 3:11 (and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead) speaks of "Out-resurrection from the dead ones". This is taken to indicate that Paul viewed the resurrection of the righteous to be separate from that of the wicked.

those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, (Luke 10:35)

can be understood as implying a separate resurrection for the righteous. (Keep this passage in mind: the fact that the resurrected will neither marry nor be given in marriage will prove problematic for premillennialism when we, in the next section, critique the viewpoint.)

Other passages a partial resurrection or a resurrection of just the righteous:
For 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. (1 Th. 4:16)

and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." (Luke 14:14)

while others permit one to infer (or not, depending on how you choose to read them) a two stage resurrection:
Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. (Dan. 12:2)

and come out--those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. (John 5:29)

A very important passage is one we have discussed:
23But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (1 Cor. 15:23-26)

As we wrote earlier, the "firstfruits" is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The first human resurrection, of the righteous (his own) is at the end of v.23. Then there is an all important word at the beginning of v. 24: "Then". To premillennialists, this implies an "interregnum" between the resurrection of the righteous and when "the end" will come131. This period of delay is taken to be the millennium.

Another line of reasoning for two, separated resurrections involves passages like this:
1If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? 2Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! (1 Cor. 1:3)

The argument is made:
  1. The righteous will act as judges of the wicked.

  2. Therefore, in order for the righteous to assume their duties as judges, there is logically an interval between the two resurrections.

Biblical Support Favoring Historic over Dispensational Premillennialism

Historic premillennialists argue for a strict literalistic interpretation of Revelation 20. However, they disagree with dispensationalists when it comes to Old Testament prophecy concerning Israel. They spiritualize much Old Testament prophecy and subsume the bulk of it into the New Testament church.

For example, they argue that the prophecies concerning the first advent were not fulfilled literally. Other, quite famous Messianic prophecy, such as:
"When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. (Hosea 11:1)

were, in their original context , not viewed as Messianic at all, but as a reference to the Exodus. Only through New Testament interpretation and in some sense reuse of the passage:
where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son." (Matt. 2:15)

do we see the real meaning, or perhaps the new meaning.

Ladd summarizes this difference in a scathing comment:
Dispensationalism forms its eschatology by a literal interpretation of the Old Testament and then fits the New Testament to it. A nondispensational eschatology forms its theology from the explicit teaching of the New Testament. 132

Next we turn to a critique of historic premillennialism.

130 Grenz, The Millennial Maze, p. 135.
131 Ladd, Crucial Questions about the Kingdom of God, pp. 178-179.
132 George E. Ladd, "Historic Premillennialism", in The Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views, Robert Clouse, ed., (Intervarsity) 1977, p. 27

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