Saturday, September 17, 2016

Preterist Time References, Part XII

Crushing Satan Underfoot 

There are a few verses left that are largely taken out of context. For instance, Romans 16:20 says, "the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet." The context is not the eschaton, but overcoming false teachers at Rome. The heretics are referred to as their source, i.e., Satan, and the God who brings shalom to His community will soon give victory to the faithful over these heretics. There is no mention of the end times. That is simply being assumed because of the use of Genesis 3:15, as though it were Christ crushing the serpent. Paul is clearly using this as his framework, but he applies it in way of application to this smaller victory of the saints over Satan's minions. It is simply eisegetical to insert some sort of time reference to the end of the age here.

The Antinomians under the Judgment of Christ's Final Victory

Jude 1:4, 14-15 states: . “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation. …About these also Enoch…prophesied, saying, 'Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly…'”

Now, notice the way Preterists chop this passage up. The question is whether this is talking about these specific men only, or these type of men, the group that makes up false believers, of which these First Century men are a part. The context makes it clear that this is a type of men that make up the group considered to be false believers. That is why the references are to OT false believers. These men are a part of that group. But none of that is quoted in order to make it seem like this verse is only talking about these men and not the larger group of which they are a part. 

It is the same thing here as we have in many places in the Bible and elsewhere, where the contemporary wicked will be placed in the larger context of those who have been predetermined for destruction. 

Jesus does the same thing with the Pharisees. "Rightly did Isaiah prophecy of you . . ." But it is clear that the prophecy in Isaiah is of disobedient and unbelieving Israelites in his own day. How can Jesus say that it is about the Pharisees? Because they are a part of the larger group that is being condemned. It is simply absurd to suggest that Jude is talking only about these specific false believers and no other false believers in other churches, throughout time, etc. And the partial quotation that leaves out that fact seems to indicate that the Preterist who quotes the passage this way knows it must be edited to give credence to his interpretation. The same can be said for 2 Peter 2:3, and any time a general judgment is associated with a people, whether for damnation or salvation. We speak to the part as partaking in the judgment of the whole. That is simply a common way of speaking for all languages throughout time.

The Way into the Holy Place
Hebrews is often taken out of context more than any other book, with the exception of Revelation perhaps. In Hebrews 9:8-10, Preterists argue that the temple still stands as a symbol that the old covenant still remains. Hence, the old covenant is still in effect until it is destroyed and that is in A.D. 70. The texts states:

“The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way of the [heavenly] Holy Places has not yet been revealed, while the outer tabernacle is still standing, which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation.”

The problem is that Auctor nowhere talks about the temple. He does not even use the word once. He makes no reference to it at all. What Auctor is talking about is what the tabernacle IN THE PENTATEUCH symbolizes to the Israelites in the Pentateuch. He is arguing that the tent of meeting is a symbol for the old covenant because he wants to show the temporal nature of that covenant communicated through rituals, which then also were meant to be temporary.

We know this because, not only does he not refer to the temple (and the temple is never referred to in Hebrews as the tabernacle--they are two different structures), but also because he describes the tabernacle he is talking about, and guess what? That tabernacle has the ark of the covenant in it (v. 4). That is a dead give away that he is talking about the tabernacle in the Pentateuch, as the ark is lost after the exile, and the Second Temple does not have contain it. If someone wants to take issue with that and argue that they have a replica inside, he mentions that the ark has Aaron's rod and the two tablets of stone carved out by Moses in it. He is simply not talking about the Second Temple. These passages are completely taken out of context.

Now, when the New Testament authors relate a larger narrative they can often use the present tense to describe the narrative in a more vivid fashion ("it has [present aspect] the golden pot and Aaron's budded rod" v. 4), in order to place the audience back into the context of the story. Storytellers today do the same thing. This may be deceiving to the English reader sometimes when one does not realize the practice of storytelling is being utilized. But it is also clear that most authors are not consistent and will go back to narrative tenses. In 9:1, Auctor does just that. Notice that he speaks of this as something in the past.

"The first covenant had (imperfect) regulations . . ."

"There had been (aorist passive) a tabernacle . . ."

The point is simply that Auctor is arguing the old covenant has already passed away at the cross. It is no longer valid in God's eyes in his own day. All of the tabernacle passed away, and thus, all that it symbolizes (i.e., the ritual expression of teaching the law) is displayed as temporal as well. The passage, and the book, is simply being ripped out of context to make it refer to the Second Temple.

The translation that states it is a symbol for the present time is a bit misunderstood as well. Auctor is actually saying that it is a symbol for them, the ancient Israelites. He states.

This was a symbol for the time then presentwhen gifts and sacrifices were offered that could not perfect the conscience of the worshiper. They served only for matters of food and drink and various washingsthey are external regulations imposed until the new order came. (9:9-10)

There are two ways one can understand the verse. It can be translated as "this had been a parable for the contemporary time period," i.e., the current time of which the Auctor is speaking; or it can be understood as referring to the tabernacle in the Pentateuch serving as a parable of the old covenant up to the present. Either way, the temporary nature of the tabernacle symbolizes the temporary nature of the ritual communication of the holiness of the law, i.e., as said before, the old covenant is the manner in which the moral law is communicated and its external versus internal nature, not the moral law itself, which is now written on the hearts/minds of God's people. The tabernacle signifies this in the Pentateuch to the people, and it frankly can continue to symbolize the temporal nature of the first covenant to the Auctor, his audience, and to us, a couple thousand of years later. That is because it exists both for Auctor and us in the text of the Torah, not literally standing in Jerusalem.

So what this passage does not mean is that the tabernacle is still standing in the form of the temple in Auctor's day. That is not to what Auctor is referring. He is immersed in the Pentateuch and attempting to take his audience there. This passage, then, also is taken out of context, and in order to get a temple out of a tabernacle one simply has to change the context and ignore what Auctor is actually saying.

The Antichrist Is Already in the World
John indicates that the antichrist is already in the world. It is suggested that the antichrist marks the time of the end. This may or may not be true, but we will adopt it's truth for the sake of argument.

Preterists will often quote this passage: “This is that of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world" (1 John 4:3).

In context, however, John, in his typical already-not yet fashion, sees the antichrist as already come through the spirits of false prophets that have gone out into the world. Specifically, he is speaking of the alternate christs offered up by the proto-gnostics. So through these people, who have the same spirit as antichrist, the antichrist has already come--not because he is already here, but because those who typify him are.

John states:  "Who is the liar but the person who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This one is the antichrist: the person who denies the Father and the Son" (2:22). 

Notice, the person who denies that Jesus is the Christ, what some proto-gnostics were doing by divorcing the Christ Logos/Aeon from the human Jesus, is the antichrist. 

In 4:1-3, John makes it clear that he is talking about the spirit of antichrist that has gone out to many false prophets in the world. In fact, in 2:18, John flat out says that he is talking about these many antichrists (plural) that have already gone out (same terminology used of the spirit of antichrist in the false prophets) into the world. It is the spirit of the antichrist (4:3) in these false prophets that displays the presence of the antichrist in the present. Again, this is just another text taken out of context.

Putting the Prophets to Death
Another passage taken out of context is Revelation 18:24: "And in her [the Great City Babylon] was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth." 

This is then compared to texts like Matthew 23:35-36 // Luke 11:50-51, where the Lord sent them messengers and prophets who they persecuted and killed.

Woe to you! You build 147 the tombs of the prophets whom your ancestors 148  killed. So you testify that you approve of the deeds of your ancestorsbecause they killed the prophets and you build their tombs! For this reason also the wisdom of God said‘I will send them prophets and apostlessome of whom they will kill and persecute,’ so that this generation may be held accountable for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary.  YesI tell youit will be charged against this generation. (Luke 11:47-51).

Notice first that the quote that God will send them prophets and messengers is a prediction made in the past. The generation is only being charged for the blood shed from Abel to Zechariah, not for the deaths of the New Testament apostles and prophets, so apostles and prophets here do not refer to New Testament apostles and prophets. They refer to the apostoloi/mal'akim "messengers" and prophets sent to Israel in the Old Testament. 

Revelation, however, is not referring to these people, as is made clear by who they are in the book. These are the prophets, apostles, and saints of the New Testament who overcome the beast, i.e., Domitian, by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony (6:9-11; 7:14; 12:11; 18:20). 

In 20:4, we see that these people are New Testament believers, not anyone who was executed between the times of Abel and Zechariah.

Then I saw thrones and seated on them were those who had been given authority to judge. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony about Jesus and because of the word of GodThese had not worshiped the beast or his image and had refused to receive his mark on their forehead or handThey came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years

Notice that these people are beheaded because they would not worship the beast and his image, i.e., Domitian, and because of their testimony about Jesus and the gospel. Notice also that the nation killing them is Rome. The Roman Emperor Domitian executed people for treason and to not worship him or his image was treason against Rome and the gods. Notice also the manner of execution. It is not stoning or most of the ways the prophets are said to have died (e.g., sawed in half, thrown off of cliffs, stoned to death, stabbed, etc.). Instead, they are beheaded, which is the most common manner of execution for Roman citizens. They would likely crucify Jews, and Jews stone others to death, even though they are not officially allowed to execute anyone at the time, but this death is by beheading by the one who Paul describes in Romans as not "having the sword for nothing." The sword is a synecdoche for the death it causes via beheading. 

So this is not Israel killing Old Testament prophets and messengers. It is Rome executing New Testament Christians, who live long after Zechariah, for the treason against gods and man that exists in not worshiping its emperor, Domitian. The cross references, therefore, are deceptive in that two different contexts with different characters involved are at play. The Preterist who uses this passage as a proof text has simply failed to note this.

The Coming of Christ in the Apocalypse of John
Revelation 2:25 is quoted as a reference to Christ's return in A.D. 70. "Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come.” 

The problem with this interpretation is that Christ's coming in context is not about the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, but encouraging believers to remain faithful under the pressure of the beast to worship him and his image. If they are faithful, they will receive the reward of confirmation that they are Christ's true people. If they are not, they will have their lampstands removed from His presence.

"Thereforeremember from what high state you have fallen and repent! Do the deeds you did at the first; if notI will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place – that is, if you do not repent" (2:5).

This text, and the book itself, is all about encouraging Christians to remain faithful. Christ's future judgment of the world and the false church is seen as something that breaks into history before the time, where Christ comes now to judge His church and keep it pure. Hence, this coming is merely one of Christ's methods of receiving His purified kingdom/bride. It is not the macro coming, which is future, but a micro coming which is present with the believers in the First Century. Hence, He is coming to them (2:5, 16, 21-23; 3:3, 19-20).

So this is Christ coming to His churches and disciplining them. He is viewed as both coming and having already come and judged some churches/people; but this is not talking about the final judgment and coming of Christ, which the book depicts as something still to come after His people have overcome the world by His blood and their testimony, when the total destruction of the world's kingdoms takes place. 

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