Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Preterist Time References, Part VIII

I want to jump in with a time indicator that is actually not used by Preterists, but often explained away; and that is the millennium. I've been able to track down two main views within full preterism. In one view, the thousand year reign of Christ begins in A.D. 30, which is guessed to be when Christ was crucified, resurrected, and ascended.

In this view, the thousand years represents forty years, and merely represents a transitional time period between the old heavens and earth and the new heavens and earth.

The idea that it is a transitional period of time is held by all views of the millenium, and most views, with the exception of more literal readings, would espouse the idea that it is a figurative period of time.

The idea that it is a smaller period of time is, of course, something that goes against the grain of John's use of the number in the book, as the number always refers to something greater than itself, and indeed, likely conveys vastness rather than completeness, as Beale would suggest.

In the premillennial preterist view, the millennium begins at A.D. 70 and extends to an indefinite period, perhaps, even forever.

In both of these views, the problem exists in a couple things that are said about the millennium. In the view that holds its duration from A.D. 30-70, there seems to be little acknowledgement concerning who enters the millennium and reigns with Christ for a thousand years.

What saints were beheaded for not worshiping the beast and his image in A.D. 30? Furthermore, what saints, who were beheaded for not worshiping the beast and his image in A.D. 30 were resurrected in A.D. 30 from that martyrdom?

One might be able to argue that these saints just catch the very end of the millennium when Nero puts Christians to death in the late sixties, but there are numerous problems to this.

1. This all occurs in Revelation after the destruction of the Great City and the beast is thrown into the lake of fire in Chapters 18-19 (19:1 meta tauta "after these things" indicates a sequence and the Satan's bondage for a thousand years and then release, where he is ultimately thrown in where the beast and false prophet are already indicates that the thousand years is subsequent to the destruction of the city and the judgment of the beast). Not only is the city of Jerusalem destroyed in A.D. 70, not before, but after the demise of Nero, but Nero dies two years before. If all of this is before the resurrection of the saints in A.D. 70, and the millennium ends in A.D. 70, then how exactly are these saints entering into it with Christ for a thousand years?

2. Nero never persecutes Christians for not worshiping at the emperor cult, but instead, for burning the city, the crime for which he falsely condemned them. Domitian is the one who puts Christians to death for not worshiping him.

3. These saints are first resurrected and then enter into this thousand year reign with Christ, but in the preterist paradigm the resurrection does not occur until A.D. 70 when the millennium actually came to an end. So not only are these resurrected saints not reigning with Christ for the entire period, they are not reigning with him, as resurrected saints, during the thousand years at all.

4. This resurrection cannot refer to their regeneration or something that happens spiritually in their lives, since they have already been executed because of their overcoming the beast by not worshiping him, were put to death because of their faithfulness, and are now resurrected. In other words, they were already regenerated Christians who passed the test and did not love their lives even to death. They remained faithful to their testimony of Jesus. Hence, this must refer to something other than their regeneration or some spiritual empowerment during their lives.

The premillennial preterist view attempts to get past all of this by denying that the millennium is the forty year period from 30-70. For the premillennial preterist view, there are still remaining problems.

1. This resurrection is related to their physical deaths, as those who have been beheaded for their faith. These faithful believers are already in heaven, not in some paradisal dungeon in Hades, as is often suggested (6:9-11; 7:9-17; 13:6; 19:14). The physical resurrection is related to their physical deaths/being beheaded. It is from this being beheaded that they come to life and reign with Christ for a thousand years, for the transitional period.

2. If the millennium is a transitional period between the old heavens and earth and the new heavens and earth, then the old heavens and earth did not pass away in A.D. 70 and the new did not come in A.D. 70, since the time of transition is still here.

3. The book clearly indicates the millennium as a time of transition between the old and new cosmos, which preterists understand as covenants. Yet, the judgment of Satan, all nations from the four corners of the earth who attack Christ and His people, and the establishment of the new cosmos occurs after the millennium is over, not when it begins. This is made clear by the book: kai hotan telesthe ta chilia ete "and when the thousand years has ended." This is why most preterists have held the millennium to be the forty year period between 30-70, which, as seen above, is not plausible either.

Ultimately, the best play for a preterist is to argue that there is no millennium and transitional period, which then would take these symbols as not representing any literal historic thing at all. I would tend toward that view, but would also say that this is inconsistent with the preterist hermeneutic of Revelation which is to attempt to find literal historical events in the symbols. They could also argue that all of the time indicators in the language of Revelation are just a way of presenting the data and not to be taken literally, something I would also suggest to a degree; but again, this would undo the argument that there is a transitional period between the cross and A.D. 70, as well as undo the hermeneutic that hangs its hat on supposed time indicators.

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