We discussed the concept of the "last days" or "latter days" in an earlier post. Today I want to talk about the singular, however, as I don't hear much of an answer to the counter-Preterist argument that Jesus says He is going to resurrect everyone who believes in Him on the "last day." Unlike the plural form, the last day refers to a future day, and is often understood as the final day in the future.
In John 6:39-40, 44, He states:
Now this is the will of the one who sent me – that I should not lose one person of every one he has given me, but raise it up at the last day. For this is the will of my Father – for everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him to have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day . . . No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day."
Now, Preterists can often claim that resurrection was secured on the last day. It was literally performed upon those who were dead at the time, and maybe even has an effect upon those who are living at the time, but it is merely secured for those who will follow after in future generations. Not everyone is literally resurrected on this day because not everyone has yet come into existence; but that is not what this text says at all.
The text is very clear that the same ones who are drawn by the Father to the Son (i.e., every single believer), believe on Him (i.e., every single believer), and He will raise these very ones (i.e., every single believer) up on the last day. The same group who is drawn and believes is the same group that is raised up on the last day. They are not two different groups. They are all the same people.
The problem with the Preterist interpretation is that it fails to note that not everyone who is drawn and believes on the Son is even alive yet in A.D. 70. How exactly are they being raised. They're not dead. They're not even alive.
Again, it is the same people group, not a different one, who are raised on that last day. Preterism argues that there is only a representative group that is raised on that day, and then resurrection continues on from there indefinitely for those who are drawn and believe.
But this text says that it is actually on this same day that all that the Father has drawn, everyone, each one who believes on the Son, are raised. In other words, it says X will be raised on the last day. X includes everyone who is drawn and believes in the Son, which includes every Christian from the dawn of time until the final number of God's elect is complete. That has not occurred yet, so this last day has not occurred yet.
This is not even to mention that, in the context of John, raising refers to the physical resurrection to come with only an already fulfillment beginning at the time of Jesus' in terms of spiritual regeneration ("the time is coming and now is" 5:25 as opposed to the "time is coming," but is not occurring presently in Jesus' ministry, when Christ raises the dead out of their tombs vv. 28-29).
What we have here is a bona fide time reference with a nature reference that both indicate that this resurrection is a future event that has not yet even occurred to this very day. It could not occur, as it includes everyone being resurrected on this singular day in the future, and everyone had not even existed yet.
Now, one can say it's metaphorical, but that is part of the problem of eisegesis. Whenever the evidence does not fit the hypothesis, the evidence is twisted into figurative language. There is nothing, however, that indicates in the context that what Jesus means here is figurative or representative. In fact, the fact that He mentions that "all" must be drawn, and the very same ones who are drawn are the very same ones who come to Him, displays that the "all" here is not representative, but literally all-encompassing of every believer. Everyone who believes will be raised up on that last day, nor in terms of providing a way for a future raising, where they are not actually raised on that day.
The judgment of the entire world is also said to occur on that same day (John 12:48; Acts 17:30-32, and the nature of that judgment is hardly something that has occurred. The day of judgment is the same day that God will judge past pagan nations and Israel together, stating that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for Sodom and Gomorrah than for an Israelite town that rejected the proclamation of the gospel(Matt 10:15). The same is said of Capernaum in contrast to Sodom and of Chorazin and Bethsaida in contrast to Tyre and Sidon (11:20-24). Notice that it does not say that it was more tolerable for them that it will be for these Jewish towns, but that it will be, implying that they will all be judged on that same day together (cf. 12:41-42).
People will give an account for what they speak on the day of judgment (12:36-37). The ungodly will all be annihilated on the day of judgment (2 Pet 3:7). It is called "the day of wrath" for which those who are unrepentant are storing up wrath, a day in which everyone will be rewarded with eternal life or punishment (Rom 2:5-12). 1 John 4:17 states that Christians should have confidence on this day. The angels are said to be reserved for the judgment of this great day (Jude 6). Felix, who is neither Jewish nor near Jerusalem, becomes frightened when Paul begins to talk to him about the judgment to come (Acts 24:25), as though it included himself. The antinomian believers who claim to know Christ will make their case on that day and will be condemned (Matt 7:22).
Instead, again, Preterists must assume the stance that the judgment is merely representational, dealing with only the group that is thrown into the lake of fire or goes off to eternal life that is dead in A.D. 70 with a lasting effect that happens every day since. But this is not everyone being judged on that day. That is judgment taking place on that day. In the same way, it is not everyone who is drawn and believes being resurrected on that day, it is merely some people being resurrected on that day with others resurrected and judged on every day since. Again, this is simply not what the text says. Every single person who is drawn and believes in the Son will be resurrected together on that singular future day. Verses 40 and 44 do not say resurrection will be secured for every person, but that "I will resurrect HIM on that day." Verse 39 says that not one of every person given to Jesus by the Father will be lost by the Son and the Son will resurrect ALL OF THEM on the last day.
The grammatical antecedent for auton "him" in verses 40 and 44 is the Greek adjective pas "everyone," which means that the everyone is the him that is resurrected on that day. The grammatical antecedent for auto is the neuter pan "all," which means that the entire group, all of them, are resurrected on that same last day.
There is simply no one outside this group, as Jesus just argued that no one comes to Him unless the Father draws him. The same him being drawn comes to the Son, and the same one who beholds the Son and believes in Him is resurrected on the last day. So the whole group that is given to the Father, no one excluded among believers, is the whole group that is raised up on the last day.
Again, this is impossible in a Preterist framework if there are believers who are not dead in A.D. 70, do not yet exist in A.D. 70, and if we take John's 2d Temple understanding of the resurrection seriously so as to understand what he means by the terminology (cf. 11:23-24).
There is certainly an already-not yet element of judgment and resurrection, but these are precursors to the final judgment on that day, not a final judgment with a lasting affect that continues on idefinitely beyond the last day. In fact, the very claim that it is the last day may indicate that there are not other future days of judgment. It is the final one. There are no future days of resurrection. It is the last day when all will be resurrected upon it.
This is a genuine time indicator that works with the nature passages rather than drowning them out to fit misunderstood time references, as we have seen in previous posts.