Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Countdown to judgment

24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For,
“In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay” (Heb 10:24-25,36-37). 

11 And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light (Rom 13:11-12).

18 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour (1 Jn 2:18).

Did NT writers entertain a false expectation regarding the imminent return of Christ?

1. For John, the "last hour" is a way of saying we're in the final stage of human history, prior to the final judgment.

2. In Rom 13:11-12, Paul plays on a metaphor. For Paul, the fallen world is analogous to night. The conversion of his readers lies in the past. They came to Christ after dark. There's their present situation, which is still at night. So the next big event will be the dawn of the Second Coming. The metaphor creates an artificial compression between past, present, and future. 

3. Modern readers need to put themselves in the mindset of ancient readers. Mortality was sky high in the ancient world. You could die at any time, at any stage of life. In the prime of life. Fatal disease. Fatal accident. Crime. Famine. Warfare. Martyrdome. The threat of death was omnipresent. You could run out of time without any advance notice (cf. Lk 12:20; Jas 4:13-14). 

4. In addition, divine judgment wasn't confined to a universal one-time event at the end of history. The OT is chockfull of divine judgments in the here and now. And you have that in the NT (e.g. Acts 5:1-11; 12:23; 1 Cor 11:30). 

5. So the notions of death and judgment shade into each other. In practice, there's no sharp line (Heb 9:27). These hortatory and admonitory statements are directed at an audience conditioned by the imminence of death, as well as divine judgment breaking into the present. A foretaste of the final judgment. The clock of God's judgment has a minute hand as well as an hour hand. 


  1. what is your take on "soon" and "quickly" in Revelation chapter 1 and 22? (and any other text relevant to that)

    1. I know you addressed this to Steve, but to give you my own view (which I freely acknowledge is based on my partial-preterist understanding of eschatology), I like to ask people to take a look at history in general. Imagine you're a skeptic and ask yourself, "What was the single biggest influence in history since the fall of Rome?" I think you'd have to conclude it's Christianity. Christianity shaped Western civilization and fundamentally altered it.

      To give just one example, during the Roman civil war (specifically when Sulla was fighting Marius), war crimes were rampant. It was commonly understood that the women and children of conquered towns would be raped before being killed. No one batted an eye. Later, when Spartacus rebelled, he defeated the first Roman army sent to kill him, and Crassus punished the troops who retreated from the battle by decimating them (he broke them up into groups of ten men, gave nine bludgeons to the group, and the tenth man was executed by the other nine). These types of events were common, not just in Roman history, but literally in every single culture.

      But, by the time you got to World War II, what the Romans did openly in full view of everyone was done in secret by the Nazis, because even the Nazis knew their behavior was evil. The biggest reason for that shift was the influence of Christianity, and indeed you see that where Christianity spread, war crimes became less and less, and when they did (and do) happen they are condemned nearly universally.

      So, to get back to my original question: what is the single largest influence on world history since the fall of Rome? Clearly, Christianity. That's an indication to me, at least on some level, that Christ did come, and "soon" at that.

    2. Ken, I've addressed that question on multiple occasions. For instance:




    3. I've discussed the Matthew passages on multiple occasions. For instance:




  2. Thanks Peter,
    By "fall of Rome" - do you mean 476 AD? I noticed you wrote "partial preterist understanding of eschatology" rather than "partial preterist understanding of Matthew 24 and Revelation 1:1-18. You focused on the Fall of Rome rather than the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, by the Romans.

    I also lean toward partial-preterism (for Matthew 24:1-35 (but there seems to be some overlap from verses 29 to 31 that is about the second coming, because the disciples asked 3 questions in verse 3, mixing up the issues; and Jesus in His answer seems to mix 70 AD and second coming in together) and parts of Revelation, but there are some things about it that I cannot swallow. Sproul and Gentry have done good work, and Gary DeMar has done some good work in that area, but DeMar, IMO, seems really close to full preterism, and that is wrong, unBiblical, and heresy. He even put 2 Peter 3 as 70 AD. I have read his books Millennial Madness and End-Times Fiction, Sproul's "the Last Days According to Jesus" and some of Gentry's books and articles on those issues. DeMar seems to think that only Acts 1:11; 1 Thess. 4:13-18 and I Cor. 15:22-28 and 15:51-54 is about the bodily 2nd coming of Christ.

    I agree that 70 AD answers the question as to "soon" and "quickly" as a coming in judgement on apostate Israel and Jerusalem and the temple and showing that there is no more sacrifices and we should not expect a rebuilt Jewish temple in Jerusalem as something that is compatible with the New Testament. (contra dispensational views of Ezekiel 40-48, etc.)

    It is difficult for me to accept Rev. 1:7 and chapter 19 as about 70 AD.

    I can see the way they deal with Rev. 11 (temple is still standing at the time of writing) and Revelation 17:9-10 as 5 Caesars have fallen and the sixth one is Nero at the time of writing - those are pretty good arguments. Along with Neron Caesar coming out in Hebrew to be "666". The argument for the great harlot / adulterous woman being apostate Israel who "rides the beast" (riding, influencing Rome to persecute the apostles and others, as in how the Jewish leaders manipulated the crowds to get Pilate to be against Jesus and have Him crucified.

    In the debate of Hank Hannegraaf vs. Mark Hitchcock, Hitchcock fried HH - they need to try and get DeMar or Gentry to debate Hitchcock.

    1. I think you might be trying to unpack too much from what I said. In referencing the fall of Rome, I was talking about what someone who isn't even a believer would conclude looking at the course of history. (That's why I started by saying "Imagine you're a skeptic".) In any case, I'm not referring to any specific date, but rather the broader scope of history, and you could even start with Emperor Constantine if you wanted to and my point would stand. Namely: Christianity has advanced through the years and has improved the whole world and, from a secular standpoint, has ruled Western Civilization for at least 1500 years now, and as a direct result therefore has really ruled most of the world. In other words, if you don't have certain views of what the millennial reign of Christ "must" look like because "that's what everyone has believed...since 1836", one could certainly make an argument that history demonstrates some kind of rule of Christ already in effect. :-D

    2. BTW, in case it's not clear, I'm not blaming you for unpacking too much from what I said, since I was pretty broad and non-specific in what I originally wrote, and I realize I did not convey how generally I was speaking very well at all.

    3. Thanks Peter.
      You make good points about how Christianity has positively affected history, and civilizations which seems to imply a Post-Millennial kind of hope.

      I did not understand how that relates to the "soon" question, though.

      Is it 70 AD?
      or the classic view of "already, but not yet"
      or, as the Dispensationalists do (your comment about "since 1836" (Dispensational, Pre-trib. - Premillennial view relates to that, ok) - they say the "soon" and "quickly" means, "once the end-time events start, it will happen quickly"

      Per your comments, I can see that by Christ's rule as already in effect, you are alluding to His ascension to heaven and ruling from there since that time, and how that had impacted history.

      In other words, if you don't have certain views of what the millennial reign of Christ "must" look like because "that's what everyone has believed...since 1836", one could certainly make an argument that history demonstrates some kind of rule of Christ already in effect.

      agreed; I am not a Pre-triber nor a dispensationalist(the "since 1836" comment), but that is the view I was taught when I was a young Christian; and I used to believe that way until Gary DeMar and David Chilton's books shocked that stuff out of me. (and Gentry and Sproul) I tend to gravitate toward Amillennialism, but I can see your point about history and civilization improving because of Christianity.

      "The Lord reigns; the Lord sits on His holy throne; the Lord rules over the nations." Psalm 47:8

      But even Dispensationists would agree that Christ is reigning on the throne at the right hand of the Father now, since the Ascension and session of Christ. But they see a literal earthy Millennial reign; because they think many passages in the OT were never fulfilled. (like Ezekiel chapters 40-48)

      Most good conservative Post-Millennialists put the "soon" and "quickly" as a coming in judgement on apostate Israel in 70 AD with destruction of the temple.

  3. should have been Revelation chapters 1-18

  4. Steve,
    Thanks for the links.