The Fragrance of the Knowledge of Christ

Dan Norcini

“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.” (2Cor 2:14-17 NKJV)

In this second epistle of Paul to the church at Corinth, the great apostle paints an image that would be quite familiar to the people of his day, but which is mostly lost to us in the modern era. To understand what he is saying, we hearken back to the days of the Roman Empire, and to the high esteem in which the citizens of its ancient capital held their conquering Generals.

It was a custom that a Roman commander returning to the capital city, after a victorious campaign against one of the Empire’s enemies, would return in a triumphal parade through its main street leading to the Capitoline Hill. Generally, the procession would consist of his captives and the spoils of war, followed by his army, with the conqueror himself bringing up the rear in a beautifully adorned chariot drawn by four horses (most often white a symbol of victory in and of itself). More often than not, incense bearers would walk alongside his chariot or surrounding it both front and rear, the odor from their burning censors wafting across the scene and spreading amongst those who lined the street to behold the wondrous spectacle.

Paul uses this imagery in a two-fold manner. First, he views himself as one of the captives, having been conquered by the Lord Christ, formerly a fierce enemy, now in the chains of love to his Master, his conquering Lord.

“Lift up your heads, you gates,
And be lifted up, you ancient doors,
That the King of glory may come in!
8 Who is the King of glory?
The LORD strong and mighty,
The LORD mighty in battle.
9 Lift up your heads, you gates,
And lift them up, you ancient doors,
That the King of glory may come in!
10 Who is this King of glory?
The LORD of armies,
He is the King of glory. Selah”
(Psalm 24: 7-10)

Not only is he a captive, but secondly, he is also a spoil of the war plucked out of the kingdom of darkness from the devil and his agents, who were thoroughly crushed and broken by the mighty Christ, the King of Glory, and then paraded through the spiritual realm as his helpless captives!

“Christ stripped the spiritual rulers and powers of their authority [disarmed/despoiled the rulers and authorities]. With the cross, he won the victory and ·showed the world that they were powerless [publicly shamed them; made a public spectacle of them; like a triumphant general displaying his captives in a victory parade].” (Col 2:15 EXB)

Thirdly, he portrays himself and those bearing the true gospel message, as incense bearers.

This is the image I wish to focus on for the immediate.

Notice what Paul says about the proclamation of the gospel message to lost sinners. To those being saved, it is an “aroma of life leading to life”. To those perishing, it is an “aroma of death leading to death”.

The image would have carried great power to the Corinthian readers of his day. To the Roman soldiers, the Roman citizens, the general, the commanders, centurions, etc. that scent filling the air around them, spoke of victory, of triumph, of honor, of greatness and splendor. Paul says that to God, the gospel message rises to His throne as a beautiful incense of the glory of His Son, as it is declared among the peoples. The gospel message, the true gospel, not the watered-down version spoken in far too many American churches these sad days, declares the Glory of God in pardoning sinners. Why? Because it magnifies and exalts all of His wondrous attributes and especially glorifies His Beloved Son, the Lord Christ.

The Gospel is first and foremost about Christ! His person, His work, His kingdom, His love, His condescension, His faithfulness, His majesty. Whenever Christ is preached, that word ascends to the throne of heaven as a pleasing aroma.

“This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”, was the Father’s declaration concerning His dear Son, both at His baptism in the river Jordan and again at His transfiguration before Peter, James and John. That which speaks of Christ, therefore is well-pleasing to God Most High.

Think about all the vileness, the perversion, the corruption, the wickedness that fills this world, these things which seem to be so rapidly increasing in this our nation, and the stench it must produce if viewed as a scent that drifts upward into the heavenly realm. Then consider the opposite – the faithful declaration of Christ!

What a tragic commentary this is on the state of so much of the American church! Instead of filling the heavens with the scent of Christ, speaking of His glory, His majesty, His love, His greatness and worth, we instead get gooblygook about God wanting you to be happy, to be a success, to secure wealth, prosperity and the fulfillment of your dreams, etc. We get everything EXCEPT CHRIST!

No wonder love for Christ was waxed cold among so many. To love something, one must gaze upon its beauty and find delight in it. How can that happen when far too many self-appointed “ministers” never hold Him up to view?

Could it be that they themselves spend so little time of their own gazing upon Him? After all, when one truly spends time sitting at the feet of Jesus, they speak of Him whom their soul loveth. To gaze upon Christ through faith and to behold Him is to discover that which is more valuable and lovely than all that this world can ever hope to offer.

“Your eyes shall behold your Teacher”. (Isaiah 30:20) is a promise of the New Covenant.

This is heaven on earth now and the true hope of the child of God in the future– to behold their Master and Friend, their Glorious Lord, upon departing from this world, when their time on earth is done.

To those who speak of the “pearly gates” and the “streets of gold” as if those things are what make heaven desirable – these know nothing of Christ, being carnally-minded and obsessed with things that have no meaning or existence in the realm of the spirit.

But we digress and must come back to our text…

Those who are being saved – To those that are hungry and thirsty for righteousness, to those who are weary and heavy-ladened with the guilt of sin, to those brokenhearted and downcast, there is not a sweeter aroma to be found anywhere in this sin-cursed world, than the free pardon of sin at the hands of a righteous yet merciful Judge all on account of the work of Christ upon the cross.

It is the news of a complete justification, a perfect righteousness credited to them through faith in Christ, a title to a heavenly inheritance, the adoption into the family of God as His sons and daughters, a Great High Priest who ever liveth to make intercession for them and who carries them in his arms as their Great Shepherd, a “Yea and Amen”, to all the covenantal promises and One who declared He will “never leave or forsake them”!

What a great salvation this is! Freely given, not because of something God foresaw within us, for these is nothing in us that would ever commend us to God, but rather purely a result of His amazing grace and love!

However, lest we forget the other part of Paul’s imagery, the gospel message is also an “aroma of death leading to death” for some. Let’s go back to our image of the triumphal procession in the text. Whilst the gospel message was a sweet scent, a pleasing aroma to those being saved, on the other hand, to the captives, no doubt bound in chains, that odor was but a terrifying prelude of their imminent death or bondage. Rather than a delight to the senses, it signified death and misery coming to meet them.

Put yourself in the place of one of these vanquished peoples, paraded through the streets of Rome. You have been marched for a long distance, bound in chains, no doubt mistreated, hungry, thirsty, exhausted from the march, and covered in dirt and perhaps even your own blood. As you trudge along, you are insulted and cursed at by bystanders along the processionary route. As the incense censors are lit, you near the final destination of the triumphal parade, the scent of the incense rushes into to fill your nostrils. What terror! What despair! What ruin is now about to greet you!

Dear reader, understand what the apostle Paul is saying; let your mind take this in. The GOSPEL MESSAGE WHEN DECLARED AMONG MEN ALWAYS PRODUCES AN EFFECT.

While we most often think its effect is to see the souls of men being saved, it never returns to God void. It has an effect as well even WHEN IT IS REJECTED!

The same message, when received, brings life and salvation. When rejected it brings ruin and misery.

As the apostle stated in Galatians:

“God is not mocked, whatsoever a man sows, that he shall reap”. (Gal 6:7).

To reject Christ, to spurn the salvation which He provides, is to make a mockery of that which glorifies both Him and His Heavenly Father.

-God is under no obligation whatsoever to bring the gospel to any people. It is a privilege granted by Him to bring this light of truth into the darkness of any people. Consider during the days of the apostle Paul’s missionary journey.

“They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, after being forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia; 7 and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them;” (Acts 16:6-7 NASB)

God has a time in His own mind, in which He decides which peoples will be privileged to receive the light of truth in their sin-darkened nation. As Ecclesiastes states:

“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven.” ( Eccl 3:1)

Consider the spread of the gospel in the past. How many long centuries passed before the Gospel was brought to the New World? How about China? How about middle and southern Africa? The list could go on. When the time was right, God raised upon messengers to declare its message to these nations and regions. Prior to that, they were left in sin and darkness.

For that matter, the entire world outside of the nation of Israel under the Old Covenant, was left without the truth of God’s Words.

“He declares His words to Jacob, His statutes and His ordinances to Israel. He has not dealt thus with any nation; and as for His ordinances, they have not known them. Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 147 19-20)

If one happened to live during this time period, the only place on this globe where the true knowledge of God was to be found, was within the nation of Israel. During the plagues of Egypt, thick darkness covered the entire land, EXCEPT for in Goshen, the part of the land in which the Hebrews dwelt. Light most often in Scripture is used as a figure of speech to denote truth. In the case of the plagues, it was designed to signify that only among the Jews, did the light of truth exist – all else was in darkness.

This is what the apostle John is stating when he writes:

“The whole world lies in the power of the evil one”. (1 John 5: 19)

Satan’s kingdom is called the “kingdom of darkness” (Col 1:13) to signify that no spiritual truth exists within it.

This is the reason why Israel was punished so severely. They failed to appreciate the great privilege that had been granted to them on account of the Patriarchs, Abraham, Issac and Jacob, and lapsed into apostasy and idolatry.

They instead heaped contempt on their privilege by running after false gods and eventually degrading themselves to the point where they killed their own Messiah when He came unto them.

Which brings us back to understanding “the aroma of death leading to death”. When a people, any people, who have been privileged to hear the word of the gospel or the Word of Christ, as Paul refers to it in Romans 10, should they spurn this gospel, should they ignore it, or worse, should they outright mock it and heap hatred upon its contents and upon those who have been saved by it, God will repay them to their face. That “scent” which has filled their land, now becomes an aroma of death unto death against them.

To mock the gospel, to treat it with contempt, to wage war against it and those who adhere to and cling to it, is to mock Christ Himself and to denigrate, as much as lies within them, His work upon the Cross wherein He sacrificed Himself. This rejected gospel, then brings about the judgments of God upon that people.

Jesus said as much to the Jews of His day, when as He was approaching the city of Jerusalem, just prior to His crucifixion, He told them:

“41 When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known on this day, even you, the conditions for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you when your enemies will put up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, 44 and they will level you to the ground, and throw down your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19: 41-44)

They had a “time of visitation” when Truth walked in their midst, when light had shone into their generation, when they were graced with the person of Christ Himself, and they mocked Him, rejected Him and eventually killed Him.

The ruin inflicted upon that nation was foretold in Matthew 24, Luke 21, Mark 13 and in the book of Revelation, and was given a vivid amplification by the Jewish historian Josephus. I would refer the reader to those places to see how God repaid their rejection of His Son and His truth.

I submit that this is the place at which our nation of America has arrived. More and more I see it drifting to a paganistic world view and away from its Judeo-Christian foundation especially as it deals with the gospel of Christ and the attitude toward Christians among its elite ( elites in their own minds and estimation but crooked and perverse in the sight of God). The gospel of Christ is hated by these and their followers, that which is sacred and was once held in esteem is mocked, and nearly every passing day we see it descending further into debauchery and uncleanness.

Whilst some may see these things as cause of its moral decline, Scripture would declare otherwise. Most certainly sin has consequences and does indeed bring with it judgment from the Judge of Heaven and Earth, but what many do not grasp, is that one of the most severe judgments rendered against a people who reject the gospel, is leaving them in their sins and a judicially hardening of their hearts to further wallow ever deeper into the cesspool they have created.

The ancient Israelite wanted their meat and clamored for it, so the Lord gave it to them in the form of quail until they literally choked on it.

This is the way that God deals with gospel-rejecting reprobates. His gospel is precious to Him and He will render a recompense to His enemies. Its message now becomes an aroma of death leading to death. It has an effect, but its effect is now to bring ruin to them; no longer is it salvific to them.

I should state here and be quite clear – once the gospel is rejected and mocked, there is NO REMEDY for that people. It is one thing to ignore the gospel – that is an evil enough, but it is altogether another thing to actively mock and attack it. Consider – the only remedy for their situation is the very thing that they hate and despise. How utterly terrifying a condition is! How miserable are such a people! They are dead even while alive.

What makes matters worse for them is that those thus judicially sentenced, are not in the least aware of their peril. The incense has filled the air, but in their case, their sense of smell no longer functions in keeping with Paul’s imagery.

While I pray for individuals I no longer offer prayers on behalf of this nation as a whole. As God once told Jeremiah, concerning the nation of Israel in his day:

“The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, 2 “Stand at the gate of the LORD’S house and proclaim there this word, and say, ‘Hear the word of the LORD, all
you of Judah, who enter by these gates to worship the LORD!’” 3 This is what the LORD of armies, the God of Israel says: “Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you live in this place. 4 Do not trust in deceptive words, saying, ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’ 5 For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly practice justice between a person and his neighbor, 6 if you do not oppress the stranger, the orphan, or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, nor follow other gods to your own ruin, 7 then I will let you live in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever.

8 “Behold, you are trusting in deceptive words to no avail. 9 Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, offer sacrifices to Baal, and follow other gods that you have not known, 10 then come and stand before Me in this house which is called by My name, and say, ‘We are saved!’—so that you may do all these abominations? 11 Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your sight? Behold, I Myself have seen it,” declares the LORD.

12 “But go now to My place which was in Shiloh, where I made My name dwell at the beginning, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of My people Israel. 13 And now, because you have done all these things,” declares the LORD, “and I spoke to you, speaking again and again, but you did not listen, and I called you but you did not answer, 14 therefore I will do to the house which is called by My name, in which you trust, and to the place which I gave you and your fathers, just as I did to Shiloh. 15 I will hurl you out of My sight, just as I have hurled out all your brothers, all the descendants of Ephraim.

16 “As for you, do not pray for this people, and do not lift up a cry or prayer for them, and do not plead with Me; for I am not listening to you.” (Jer 7: 1-16 NASB)

May our Good Lord grant understanding to those who read this and may it make us diligent to make our calling and election sure. Do not allow the spirit of this age to infect your heart but discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness. We are truly living in perilous times.

Be of good cheer however knowing that the Lord Christ can and will keep and preserve you. Stay close to Him who is your refuge from the storm of evil and madness that has descended upon this land.

Dan Norcini SS April 9, 2024

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Is Satan the God of this World?

by Gary DeMar

Christians will use all types of excuses to keep themselves out of today’s religious-moral-cultural battles. One of the most diabolical excuses is to claim that Satan is the rightful god of this world. This translates into believing that this world is demonic. Let’s see what the Bible actually says about this.

Satan is a creature. Like all creatures, he has certain limitations. Even under the Old Covenant, Satan had to be granted permission by God before he could act (Job 1:6-122:1-7). Satan’s limitations have been multiplied since the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus.

The Bible shows us that if we “resist the devil he will flee from” us (James 4:7). The only power that Satan has over the Christian is the power we give him and the power granted to him by God (2 Cor. 12:7-12). Scripture tells us that Satan is defeated, disarmed, and spoiled (Col. 2:15Rev. 12:7-8Mark 3:23-27). He has “fallen” (Luke 10:18) and was “thrown down” (Rev. 12:9). He was “crushed” under the feet of the early Christians, and by implication, under the feet of all Christians throughout the ages (Rom. 16:20). He has lost “authority” over Christians (Col. 1:13). He has been “judged” (John 16:11). He cannot “touch” a Christian (1 John 5:18). His works have been destroyed (1 John 3:8). He has “nothing” (John 14:30). He must “flee” when “resisted” (James 4:7). He is “bound” (Mark 3:27Luke 11:20). Finally, the gates of hell “shall not overpower” the advancing church of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 16:18).[1] Surely Satan is alive, but he is not well on planet earth.

So then, what does Paul mean when he describes Satan as “the god of this world,” actually, “of this age”? (2 Cor. 4:4). To hear some people tell it, this verse teaches that Satan has all power and authority in this dispensation and in the locale of planet earth. Where God is the God of heaven and of the age to come, Satan is the god of this world and this present evil age. This dualistic view of the universe may be part of Greek philosophy, but it has no place in biblical theology.

While it’s true that the devil is said to be the god of this age,[2]  we know that God is “the King of the ages” (1 Tim. 1:17). Paul is simply stating that Satan is the chosen god of those who deny Jesus as God’s rightful heir of all things (Matt. 22:1-14). These are the true antichrists (2 John 2:71 John 2:1822). Jesus is in possession of “all authority,” in both heaven and earth (Matt. 28:18-20). In addition, we know that Satan’s power has not increased since Job’s day. He is still a permission-seeking creature. This is especially true under the new and better covenant inaugurated by Jesus Christ. As the above verses make clear, Satan is a second-class creature who has been cast out and judged: “The ruler of this world shall be cast out” (John 12:31); “the ruler of this world has been judged” (16:11).

What, then, does the apostle mean when he describes Satan as “the god of this age”? First, we must never allow one passage to finalize our understanding of a particular doctrine. Scripture must be compared with Scripture. There are no contradictions. Therefore, we can’t have the Bible saying of the one true God, “I am the LORD, and there is no other; besides Me there is no God” (Isa. 45:5) and then making Satan a rival god. Paul must have something else in mind. We can’t say that Satan has been judged and cast out, something that does not happen to gods, and still maintain that he is the god of this world similar to the way Jehovah is God of this world. Paul is making a theological point. For example, Jesus tells the Pharisees that the devil is their father (John 8:44). We know that Satan is not their biological father. Rather, he is their spiritual father in that they rejected their true Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

Physically these Jews, to be sure, are children of Abraham; but spiritually and morally–and that was the issue–they are the children of the devil. [3]

Jesus is describing the devil as one who gives birth to a worldview, a worldview that includes lying and murder. In this sense, Satan is their spiritual father. In the same way, Satan is a god to those who cling to the fading glory of Moses, “the ministry of death” (2 Cor. 3:7). This is the age over which he is a god, an age that “has no glory on account of the glory that surpasses it” (v. 10).

Second, the devil is chosen as a god by “those who are perishing,” and he must blind them before they will follow him: “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4). This passage teaches that unbelievers are fooled into believing that “the old covenant” where the “veil remains unlifted” is the way to life (v. 14). Satan is the god of the “ministry of death.” The “god of this age” keeps them in bondage, “but whenever a man turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away” (v. 16). Liberty from the ministry of death only comes where the Spirit of Lord is: “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (v. 17). But Satan has blinded the eyes of the unbelieving so they cannot see the lifted veil. They are still trusting in the shadows of the Old Covenant.

Third, like idols in general, the devil is “by nature” not a god (Gal. 4:8; cf. Deut. 32:17Ps. 96:5Isa. 44:9-201 Cor. 8:410:20). In Philippians 3:19, Paul tells us that those who are “enemies of the cross of Christ” worship “their appetite”: “For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.” The appetite is not a god, but it can be chosen as a god.

Fourth, the only way Satan can pass himself off as a god is to first blind his victims. Keep in mind that Jesus described the devil as “a liar, and the father of lies” (John 8:44). Though Satan masquerades as a god, this does not make him a god.

Satan wishes, albeit vainly, to set himself up as God, and sinners, in rebelling against the true God, subject themselves to him who is the author of their rebellion. The unregenerate serve Satan as though he were their God. They do not thereby, however, escape from the dominion of the one true God. On the contrary, they bring themselves under His righteous judgment; for Satan is a creature and not a God to be served (cf. Rom. 1:1825). Just as there is one in the world and every pretended alternative to it is a false no-gospel, so there is only one God of the universe and every other “deity” whom men worship and serve is a false no-god. [4]

When all the evidence is in, we learn that Satan is the god of an age that was passing away. “This age” and “this world” are used “in an ethical sense,” denoting “the immoral realm of disobedience rather than the all-inclusive, extensive scope of creation,” representing “the life of man apart from God and bound to sinful impulses, a world ethically separated from God.[5] Calling Satan the “god of this age” is more a reflection on the condition of “this age” than the real status of the devil. Chrysostom comments that “Scripture frequently uses the term god, not in regard of the dignity that is so designated, but of the weakness of those in subjection to it; as when he calls mammon lord and belly god: but the belly is neither therefore God nor mammon Lord, save only of those who bow themselves to them.” [6]

When the church makes Satan the “god of this age,” it has fallen for one of the devil’s schemes–giving him a lot more credit and power than he deserves. He is quite satisfied in having anyone believe one of his lies.

As Martin Luther said,

And though this world, with devils filled, Should threaten to undo us, we will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us. The prince of darkness grim we tremble not for him; his rage we can endure, for lo! his doom is sure, one little word shall fell him.

[1] The material on Satan was taken from Jay E. Adams, The Christian Counselor’s Manual (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1973), 126-27.

[2] The Greek word in this passage is “age” (Gr. aion”).

[3] William Hendriksen, Exposition of the Gospel According to John,, 2 vols. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1953-54), 2:60.

[4] Philip E. Hughes, Commentary on the Second Epistle of the Corinthians, The New International Commentary on the New Testament Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1962, 127.

[5] Greg L. Bahnsen, “The Person, Work, and Present Status of Satan,” The Journal of Christian Reconstruction, Symposium on Satanism, ed. Gary North, 1:2 (Winter, 1974), 22.

[6] Quoted in Hughes, Commentary on the Second Epistle of the Corinthians, 128.

Scripture references in order of usage:

(Job 1:6-12 ESV) Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? 10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” 12 And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

(Job 2:1-7) Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. And the Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life. So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.

(James 4:7 ESV) Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

(2 Cor 12:7-12) to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 11 I have been a fool! You forced me to it, for I ought to have been commended by you. For I was not at all inferior to these super-apostles, even though I am nothing. 12 The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works.

(Col 2:15 ESV) He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

(Rev 12:7-8 ESV) Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.

(Mk 3:23-27 ESV) And he called them to him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. 27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house.

(Lk 10:18 ESV) And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.

(Rev 12:9 ESV) And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

(Rom 16:20 ESV) The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

(John 16:11 ESV) concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

(1 John 5:18 ESV) We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.

(1 John 3:8 ESV) Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

(John 14:30 ESV) I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me,

(James 4:7 ESV) Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

(Mark 3:27 ESV) But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house.

(Luke 11:20 ESV) But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

(Matt 16:18 ESV) And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

(2 Cor 4:4 ESV) In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

(1 Tim 1:17 ESV) To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

(Matt 22:1-14 ESV) And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants[a] to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’ But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.

11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

(2 John 2:7 ESV) The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth, 2 because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever:

(1 John 2:18 ESV) Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.

(1 John 2:22 ESV) Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son.

(Matthew 28:18-22 ESV) And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

(John 12:31 ESV)  Now is the judgment of this world [kosmos]; now will the ruler of this world [kosmos] be cast out.

(John 16:11 ESV) concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

(Isa 45:5 ESV) I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me,

(John 8:44 ESV) You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

(2 Cor 3:7; 14, 16-17) Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end;… 14 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away…. 16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord[d] is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

(Gal 4:8 ESV) Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods.

(Deut 32:17 ESV) They sacrificed to demons that were no gods, to gods they had never known, to new gods that had come recently, whom your fathers had never dreaded.

(Psa 96:5 ESV) For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens.

(Isa 44:9-20 ESV) All who fashion idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit. Their witnesses neither see nor know, that they may be put to shame. 10 Who fashions a god or casts an idol that is profitable for nothing? 11 Behold, all his companions shall be put to shame, and the craftsmen are only human. Let them all assemble, let them stand forth. They shall be terrified; they shall be put to shame together.

12 The ironsmith takes a cutting tool and works it over the coals. He fashions it with hammers and works it with his strong arm. He becomes hungry, and his strength fails; he drinks no water and is faint. 13 The carpenter stretches a line; he marks it out with a pencil. He shapes it with planes and marks it with a compass. He shapes it into the figure of a man, with the beauty of a man, to dwell in a house. 14 He cuts down cedars, or he chooses a cypress tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it. 15 Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it. 16 Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, “Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!” 17 And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!”

18 They know not, nor do they discern, for he has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand. 19 No one considers, nor is there knowledge or discernment to say, “Half of it I burned in the fire; I also baked bread on its coals; I roasted meat and have eaten. And shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?” 20 He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”

(1 Cor 8:4 ESV) Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.”

(1 Cor 10:20 ESV) No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons.

(Phil 3:19 ESV) Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.

(John 8:44 ESV) You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of…

(Rom 1:18 ESV) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

(Rom 1:25 ESV) because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

Posted in Eschatology | Leave a comment

Global or Local?

In my last blogpost I highlighted translator biases in the way four Greek words (GE, OIKOUMENE, AION AND MELLO) have been translated. Unbeknownst to the reader these seemingly insignificant words have helped skew eschatological perceptions for centuries. If you had a chance to read it, I mentioned that “ge” was translated “earth” two critical times, once in the Olivet Discourse (Mt 24; Mk 13 and Lk 21) and once in the Revelation.

(Matthew 24:30 NASB) And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.

(Revelation 1:7 NASB) Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.

I contended that “all of the tribes of the land” is a more appropriate translation given the Olivet’s context. What many don’t realize is how easily their eschatological presuppositions can be altered by the word choices of the translators.

Let me explain. In that 1st century era (approx. AD 30), everything about Jesus’s Olivet (Mt 24; Mk 13; Lk 21) was Israel-centric. Jesus was not prophesying what would take place in China or South America but rather concerning the 1st century Roman Empire. So, in my view, there is no justification for translating “ge” as “earth” if one considers the following:

1. The temple’s destruction (there is no temple today) Mt 24:2
2. Fleeing Judea (not Dover, FL or Bangor ME) Mt 24:16
4. Fleeing housetops (better buy a mobile home so we can flee) Mt 24:
3. Travel difficulties on the sabbath and in the winter (neither of which are issues in 2023 America) Mt 24:19
5. The abomination of desolation in the holy place (the only holy place today is within the heart of the Christian) Mt 24:15
6. Not to mention the 18 times Jesus referenced “YOU” i.e. His disciples. (not residents of Brandon, FL or St. Louis, MO)…

None of the above lead one to believe that Jesus was speaking globally, unless of course one is wrought with the same presuppositions as the translators. Therefore, “land”, as in “the land of Israel” is the better option.

Then we have “erets” which is the Hebrew counterpart to the Greek word “ge”. Erets can be translated either “land, earth, ground, surface…”. Following is a passage from Genesis 41 regarding the famine experienced in Egypt. Notice the NASB’s shift from “land” to “earth” in the last verse. You decide whether the context warrants such a change.

(Genesis 41:53-57 NASB) When the seven years of plenty which had been in the LAND [erets] of Egypt came to an end, and the seven years of famine began to come, just as Joseph had said, then there was famine in all the LANDS [erets], but in all the LAND [erets] of Egypt there was bread. So when all the LAND [erets] of Egypt was famished, the people cried out to Pharaoh for bread; and Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph; whatever he says to you, you shall do.”

When the famine was spread over all the face of the earth [erets], then Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold to the Egyptians; and the famine was severe in the LAND [erets] of Egypt. The people of all the EARTH [erets] came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe in all the EARTH [erets].

People from around the globe weren’t traveling to Egypt looking for food but that’s how it appears given the change from LAND to EARTH. Without knowing that the same Hebrew word “erets” was used in ALL instances of both “land” and “earth”, how would you know that liberties were not taken?

It should be noted that there was a famine in Canaan but it was not said to have been worldwide in scope. When “earth” is used, it one immediately thinks “global”. However, in the above passage there was a certain geographic region in view i.e. “the land of Egypt.”

As I mentioned above, “erets” much like “ge” can be translated “land”, “earth”, “dirt” etc. However, context controls usage and in my view “land” is the better option. Can you see how the biases of the translators can skew our conclusions.

The moral of the story is that if we read casually and never drill down into the passage, it can skew our conclusions. That’s why studying is so important. So, unlike the KJV translating the Greek words “kosmos”, “oikoumene” and “aion” all as “world”, “ge” (Greek) and “erets” (Hebrew) change meanings primarily based upon usage. That’s why I recommend using Bible software (specifically a lexicon) while consulting a plethora of translations.

Posted in Eschatology, Hermeneutics | Leave a comment

It’s All Greek to Me



Hidden below the surface of our Bible translations are 4 Greek words that have been instrumental in changing the eschatological landscape for centuries. Unbeknownst to most Christians, the Greek to English translations have had a paradigm-shifting effect.

No, I don’t believe there has been a conspiracy afoot. Nor do I think intentional dishonesty was at play. Rather, it seems that the translation decisions which have skewed reader’s eschatological perspectives, are simply due to translator biases. No one interprets the Bible in a vacuum. So, I don’t fault these diligent scholars, nor will I disparage their incredibly valuable work which I am forever grateful for. Though I believe their decisions have altered underlying assumptions affecting eschatological expectations, their choices have not changed the Gospel, nor have they served to undermine our ability to form foundational theological doctrines.

Regarding these biases, years ago a pastor friend included the following powerful J.I. Packer quote in a sermon.

We do not start our Christian lives by working out our faith for ourselves; it is mediated to us by Christian tradition, in the form of sermons, books and established patterns of church life and fellowship. We read our Bibles in the light of what we have learned from these sources; we approach Scripture with minds already formed by the mass of accepted opinions and viewpoints with which we have come into contact, in both the Church and the world. . . . It is easy to be unaware that it has happened; it is hard even to begin to realize how profoundly tradition in this sense has molded us. But we are forbidden to become enslaved to human tradition, either secular or Christian, whether it be “catholic” tradition, or “critical” tradition, or “ecumenical” tradition. We may never assume the complete rightness of our own established ways of thought and practice and excuse ourselves the duty of testing and reforming them by Scriptures. (Fundamentalism and the Word of God, by J.I. Packer. [Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1958.] pp. 69-70)

One of the first steps in attempting to interpret the Bible with precision, is to recognize our tendencies to read into (eisegete) rather than take out of (exegete) the Text. And that’s far easier said than done. But what we need to understand is that it’s not just Bible readers who have presuppositions. The truth is that the interpreters are no less susceptible to their preconceived conclusions and how they impact the way in which words are translated.

With that as a backdrop, let’s consider how these 4 seemingly inconsequential Greek words have had such a dramatic impact on one’s eschatological view.

For example, most reading “world” in the King James Version (KJV) are not aware that there are three Greek words all translated world. So if you don’t realize that every time you see “world” used in the KJV that they may not originate from the same Greek word. And this can severely skew one’s understanding of a passage. Let’s look at three examples in Jesus’s prophetic Olivet Discourse.

(Matthew 24:3 KJV) And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

(Matthew 24:14 KJV) And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

(Matthew 24:21 KJV) For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

The above 3 verses contain “world”. However, if you are not aware that the underlying Greek word is different in each case, your conclusions will be altered.

Consider Matthew 24:3. If you think the disciples were asking about the “end of the world” you would be grossly mistaken. The reality is that the word translated “world” is the Greek word aion, which actually means age… not world. In every verse where the KJV refers to the “end of the world” it should actually be rendered “the end of the age.”

So, over the past 4 centuries since the origin of the KJV, it has been inculcated into our psyche the idea that the world is destined to end. And it has also had a dramatic impact on the way other earth-ending apocalyptic passages like Mt 24:29, Acts 2:20, Rev 6:12-14 and 2 Pet 3:10-12 are interpreted or perhaps misinterpreted. I’ll leave apocalyptic, de-creation language for another day, but suffice it to say, translating aion as world has caused many to make grossly errant assumptions. For phrases like “the end of the world” and “the end of time” to be so deeply engrained, I was shocked when I realized both phrases are assumed to be biblical but neither can be found in the Bible.

So, Jesus, instead of prophesying about the end of the world as most think, was actually referring to the end of the age. And that’s a very different matter. He was speaking about the end of the Old Covenant age which the author of Hebrews penned was “growing old and ready to disappear.” (Circa AD 62) The last days (AD 30-70) were at the end of the Old Covenant age.

Now let’s take a closer look at Matthew 24:14. Again, “world” was used by the translators but this time the Greek word is neither kosmos nor aion. Rather it’s oikoumene. This might appear like a minor detail but I think you will find that it’s actually a very big deal. .

In order to drill down into Mt 24:14, we need to consider other usages of oikoumene to help determine its meaning.

(Luke 2:1 KJV) And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world [oikoumene] should be taxed.

It’s rather clear that Caesar Augustus did not tax the Chinese or the Aboriginals.

The word oikoumene can be translated “inhabited earth” but more specifically it should be rendered “Roman Empire.” But the question is, how would you know that without a Lexicon? And why would you look, assuming that every usage of “world” is from the Greek word “kosmos.” When we read “this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world”, what are we to conclude other than the Gospel must be preached to everyone everywhere. And, since that has not been accomplished, people incorrectly assume that the fulfillment of Mt 24:14 has not been fulfilled. For an in-depth study on this largely misunderstood verse consider, “Has the Gospel Been Preached to All the World?

It should be noted that the NASB translated oikoumene in Luke 2:1 as “inhabited earth” but they curiously failed to make that distinction in Mt 24:14 although they do provide a footnote “inhabited earth”. The Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) and the NIV are the only translations I found that translated oikoumene as the “whole empire” and “Roman World” respectively. Both the NKJV and ESV used “world.”

Do you see who this could skew people’s perceptions? Oikoumene is used 15 times in the KJV, 14 times as “world” and one time as “earth”.

Another one of the 15 is Acts 24:5. In the HCSB it reads, “For we have found this man to be a plague, an agitator among all the Jews throughout the Roman world [oikoumene], and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes!”

Translating oikoumene “Roman world” makes perfect sense since the dispersed Jews were neither in China nor South America but rather in regions controlled by the Roman Empire. So how do you think the NASB, the KJV, the NKJV, the ESV and the NIV translated Acts 24:5? Without exception they rendered it “throughout the world.” So, unless you read 7 translations and consult the lexicon of your choice, you would have been misled. And though this is not a colossal error in Acts 24:5, it does create serious interpretational issues in Mt 24:14.

At this point, the question we should ask is what about the context would lead the translators to choose “world” over “Roman world?” Could it be presuppositional bias?

Consider the target audience. Peter addressed his first epistle to: “those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,” And regarding the gathering at Pentecost, Luke records, “there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven…Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, (Acts 1:5; 9-10) We should remember that the Bible is Israel-centric.

In the parable of the weeds, again the KJV renders “aion” as world. (Matthew 13:40 KJV) As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. It’s very misleading to say the least. I’m not castigating the 16th century translators who perhaps viewed the end of the age as the end of the cosmos. They’ve done the heavy lifting which has made the Bible accessible to the commoner. However, when attempting to form eschatological conclusions, you can begin to see how easily we can go awry if we are not aware of the underlying Greek. However, when attempting to form eschatological conclusions, you can begin to see how easily our perceptions can go awry if we are not aware of the underlying Greek words.

Pick up any modern translation and you will find “the end of the age” in Matthew 13:40. And in the vast majority of verses where aion is found, you will find the same. But prior to 1960, the KJV and derivatives were the only game in town. So, over the years presuppositions had been built to the point that even when Christians read “end of the age” which was corrected in the NKJV, they have latent connections to the “end of the world.” And, as I mentioned earlier, although “the end of the world” isn’t found in the Bible, many think the writers of the New Testament regularly referred to the world’s end.

Now let’s turn our attention to the Greek world “ge” which was translated “earth” 181 times and land 42 times in the KJV. Remember, context controls meaning. Let’s again look for presuppositional bias among the translators.

(Matthew 2:20 KJV) Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land [ge: G1093of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s life.

The above is an example of 181 times “ge” was translated as “land” instead of earth since in this instance “earth of Israel” would make no sense. Now let’s look at a verse which translated “ge” as earth, and ask yourself why they didn’t also translate it “land”.

(Matthew 24:30 ESV) Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth [ge] will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

(Matthew 24:30 NASB) And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth [ge] will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.

In not one modern translation will you find “all the tribes of the land.” Why? Jesus was clearly speaking to His disciples living in the land is Israel, and given the number of times He specifically referenced them (Jews), it is imperative that we read the text in that light. Though it may seem obvious, sometimes we forget that Jesus wasn’t speaking directly to you or me. Read through the Olivet (Mt 24; Mk 13; Lk 21) and notice how many times Jesus referenced “you” (them). It’s striking when you encounter the impact of audience relevancy for the first time. Western 21st-century Christians are egocentric to the point where we believe that everything in the New Testament is about us, in our world. And that causes grave interpretational issues.

So, the context should make clear to whom it was that would mourn when their Messiah returned. John the Baptizer’s resounding warning of impending judgment? “the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore, every tree that does not bear good fruit is being cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Mt 3:10) It was “all the tribes of the LAND” that would feel the wrath of God. To Caiaphas the High Priest, Jesus profoundly proclaimed, “You have said it yourself. But I tell YOU, from now on YOU will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Mt 26:64 NASB)

Approximately 22 years later as Jewish persecution began to increase, Paul encouraged the beleaguered Christ-followers at Thessalonica.  “For after all it is only right for God to repay with affliction those who afflict youand to give relief to you who are afflicted, along with us, when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with [His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God, and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” (2 Thess 1:6-8) This judgment wasn’t to come upon the entire globe. Rather, those who killed Jesus and His prophets were the targets of God’s wrath. (Mt 23:34-36)

When you read “tribes of the earth”, you may be tempted to think that the entire globe is in focus. As mentioned, keeping the context in view, this is referring to the tribes of Israel. In verse 34 of chapter 24 Jesus said, “This generation would not pass away until all these things are fulfilled.” Verse 34 constrains Jesus’s “coming on the clouds” to those living within a generation of His proclamation. His focus is the Jewish temple (Mt 24:3) and the wicked and perverse, Christ-killing first-century generation (Mt 23:34-36). It was a local judgment!

Josephus, a Jewish General turned historian during the Roman siege of Jerusalem, wrote concerning that adulterous generation which crucified Christ.

It is therefore impossible to go distinctly over every instance of these men’s iniquity. I shall therefore speak my mind here at once briefly: – That neither did any other city ever suffer such miseries, nor did any age ever breed a generation more fruitful in wickedness than this was, from the beginning of the world. Josephus – War of the Jews, Book V, Chapter X, Section 5 (Entire)

Another reference to the tribes lamenting Jesus’s coming is in the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Three plus decades after the Olivet, Jesus, sitting at the right hand of the Father in His preincarnate glory, revealed “the things which were about to take place … for the time is near”.   (Rev 1:1,3)

(Revelation 1:7 ESV) Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.

Upon reading the above verse, would you not immediately conclude that Christ’s judgment was worldwide in scope? Except, again notice the phrase “all the tribes” which refers to the tribes of Israel. Every modern translation I checked refers to “all the tribes of the EARTH”, except one, the Youngs Literal Translation (YLT).

 (Revelation 1:7 YLT) Lo, he doth come with the clouds, and see him shall every eye, even those who did pierce him, and wail because of him shall all the tribes of the land. Yes! Amen!

It’s clear that Jesus was hearkening back to Matthew 24:30 i.e. “all the tribes of the land”. This has nothing to do with Africa, South America or the new world. The Jews were scattered throughout the Roman Empire. And also consider the phrase, “even those who pierced him” (which is a direct reference to the Jews who handed Jesus over to the Roman authorities). This could be translated, “that is, those who pierced Him.” This is yet another example of audience relevance pinning fulfillment to the Christ-rejecting generation. No one in the 21st century pierced the Messiah.

Let’s look at one more verse which contains two of the 4 Greek words in this study.

(Revelation 3:10 KJV) Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come [no imminence] upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

“All the world” and “upon the earth” imply that the entire globe is in view. But let’s look under the hood and see if that’s the case. Can you guess which Greek words are translated “world” and “earth” in the above verse?

Oikoumene = world
Ge = earth

So, when reading Revelation 3:10 the immediate conclusion is that it sounds global. “Which shall come upon all the world” and “that dwell upon the earth”. Not to further muddy the waters, but it’s necessary to highlight one more Greek word in this verse that the translators notoriously ignore: mello. It means “about to be”. I would have to devote an entire study just on “mello. For the sake of brevity let’s shed a few rays of light. Mello (and its derivatives) alone, if neutered of its imminence, can drastically affect your perceptions. Let’s check in with the NASB’s translation of Revelation 3:10 to see an example.

(Revelation 3:10 NASB) Because you have kept My word of perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of the testing, that hour which is about to come [MELLO] upon the whole world, to test those who live on the earth.

Notice the imminency of expected fulfillment. The hour was “about to come”. Suffice it to say, the above verse, without presuppositional bias, should be translated:

[Revelation 3:10 CWC] Because you have kept My word of perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of the testing, that hour which is about to [mello] come upon the whole Roman Empire [oikoumene], to test those who live in the land [ge].

Audacious you say? Who am I to quibble with renowned experts? I don’t know Greek nor did I stay in a Holiday Inn Express. But, in our collective defense, you would be surprised how far diligence, common sense, some intellectual honesty and the ability to handle online Bible tools, will take us. We all need to take control of our own views, do the work, and come to well-reasoned conclusions. No longer must we be held under the thumbs of self-proclaimed gatekeepers who think we’re not intelligent enough or spiritually illumined enough to employ Sola Scriptura.

But let me be clear, I’m not saying that studying the biblical languages is of little value. There is significant advantage in being able to read a Greek New Testament fluently. However, an expert who is beholden to their eschatological worldview as well as their creedal commitments, is just as likely to succumb to their strong biases as the laity. And that has been demonstrated above.

Whatever your eschatological view, I can assure you that originally mine were significantly skewed simply because of the way these Greek words were translated. They set a subliminal tone that is difficult to overcome. They set a subliminal tone that was difficult to overcome. And only after I began considering the overwhelming imminence associated with Christ’s coming, did I learn of their existence.

In conclusion, my exhortation is to consult many different translations, lexicons and Bible dictionaries when you are studying the Scriptures. I primarily use the ESV for memorization, but I find either the NASB or the NKJV are a tad more readable. And if you want a more literal word for word Bible, though somewhat clunky to read, the YLT (Youngs Literal Translation) is an excellent choice.

And it should be noted that the NKJV has corrected a few of the more obvious KJV errors such as translating aion “age” instead of “world.” I think you would be shocked at how many times the imminence of a verse has been silenced by the interpreters. The majority of mello’s 110 usages in the New Testament have been largely ignored. And this one word alone, if translated “about to be” would force honest Bible students to reconsider their conclusions. And If GE, AION, OIKOUMENE AND MELLO are translated as intended, they may very well threaten the popular eschatological conclusions of our day.

In the light of the above, reconsider the Packer quote:we approach Scripture with minds already formed by the mass of accepted opinions and viewpoints with which we have come into contact, in both the Church and the world.”

Posted in Eschatology | Leave a comment

Wars and Rumors of Wars

(Matthew 24:6-7 ESV) 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.

When reading the above verses, many prophecy gurus, pastors and eschatology enthusiasts have insisted that Jesus was referring to an all-encompassing world war thousands of years removed from its first-century context i.e. one that’s in our near future.

But the question is, why do so many interpret these verses in this manner? Is their conclusion supported by the context of the Olivet Discourse (Mt 24; Luke 21; Mk 13) or are they restating commonplace opinions that are assumed but not proven? I believe it’s the latter and the reasons are listed below. It’s incumbent upon us to be Bereans and determine for ourselves if these things are so (Acts 17:11).

My admonition is to avoid simply following the crowd. Why risk repeating the mistakes of the many who have been bullied to believe that they are not capable of doing their own research? We need to realize that what we believe is our responsibility before God. So, if after considering the below arguments, you aren’t convinced, then the time spent investigating these matters will have been worth it. That said, I think you will find the arguments compelling if you allow Scripture to speak for itself.    

Following are some points to consider when attempting to answer these questions:

  1. Eisogesis (reading one’s presuppositions into the text) should always be avoided. We must allow the Bible to speak for itself (exegesis). Too often this hermeneutical principle is unwittingly ignored. In order to come to this world war 3 conclusion, one would have to read Matthew 24 in a vacuum and sequester it from the preceding chapters as well as from the other two synoptic accounts. Just after Jesus’s thrashing of the Jewish ruling class (Mt 23) and His targeting the city of Jerusalem, it’s inhabitants, and the Temple (Mt 22:7, 13; 23:35-38; 24:3), why would Jesus then launch into warnings of a global conflict? This would have nothing to do with “their” house being left desolate (Mt 23:38). What in the context would give credence to Jesus changing His focus to regions far beyond the Roman Empire? 
  2. Flee Judea. Why did Jesus exhort his disciples to flee to the surrounding mountains of Judea if these wars were expected to be worldwide in scope? How could they escape a world war by retreating to local mountainous regions like Pella?
  3. Why Judea? Why didn’t Jesus tell his future 21st-century readers to “flee large cities and highly populated areas”? If Jesus was addressing us 2,000 year’s future, what relevance would fleeing Judea have to someone living on the west coast of Florida? Are we supposed to go to Judea so that we can flee from there? As silly as that sounds, this speaks to the absurdity of the modern prophecy writers’ claims.
  4. Audience relevance. It should not go without notice the number of times (15) in Matthew 24 alone that Jesus referred to “you” i.e. those to whom He was speaking. He was clearly speaking to them not us. Jesus said “YOU (referring to His disciples) will hear…” Therefore the wars had to have been confined to the time when the disciples and their followers were still living i.e. wars that took place throughout the Roman Empire (oikoumene) which was at the epicenter of the Olivet.
  5. Greek word “Mello”. This word is often hidden from plane view. In the ESV quoted above, it reads “and you will hear…” There is no time indicator. In contrast, notice how the YLT captures the precise verbiage which is not wrought with translational bias…”and ye shall begin to hear of wars…” Often hidden from our sight (because of translator presuppositions) is the Greek word “mello”, which means about to be or at the point of. The disciples were about to hear of wars and rumors of wars. Jesus’s prediction was even more starling given the relative peace in the Roman Empire during the beginning of the Pax Romana. Again, this would confine the wars to the first century. 
  6. This generation.  “All of these things” (Mt 24:34), including wars and rumors of wars throughout the Roman Empire, were confined to the generation to which Jesus was speaking. (Mt 24:34 ESV) Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”
  7. Context. Ask yourself what in the preceding 23 chapters of Mathew would lead one to conclude that Jesus is all of a sudden referring to a worldwide conflict? Everything in the NT is Israel-centric so referring to conflicts outside the Roman world seem rather strange.  
  8. Wars between nations. Many nations, including Israel, were under Roman Empire control. So, although these “wars” were at times referred to as “civil wars” and “civil strife”, they were national uprisings.
  9. Kingdom against Kingdom. Open wars of different tetrarchies and provinces against each other. 1. Jews and Galileans against the Samaritans, for the murder of some Galileans going up from the feast of Jerusalem. 2. The entire nation of Jews against the Romans and Agrippa, other allies of the Roman Empire when Florus was procurator. 3. Civil War in Italy while Otho and Vitellius were vying for the empire. (Adam Clarke)
  10. Historical evidence. We have the corroborating testimony of many historians (not sympathetic to Christianity) that wars broke out throughout the empire. From AD 40-50, wars produced death tolls of: 50,000 – Mesopotamia; 10,000 – Jerusalem; 20,000; 20,000 – Caesarea, 20,000 by Syrians; 13,000 – Scythopolis; 50,000 -Alexandria; 10,000 – Damascus. Since the population was approx. 300,000,000 at that time, that would be equivalent to 4,800,000 deaths today (population approx 8,000,000,000). So, the war deaths within the Roman Empire were not insignificant, especially in light of the fact that prior to Jesus’s Olivet declaration there had been a period of relative peace.

In conclusion, it’s my view that only through confirmation bias (reading our presuppositions into the Bible) do so many determine that Jesus was speaking of an Armageddon styled world war near the end of time… completely unmoored from its first-century Roman Empire setting. If you disagree (and that’s fine), comb through the entire New Testament and show me what passage you think supports a worldwide conflagration of warring nations. Nothing in the Olivet nor the preceding 23 chapters of Matthew corroborate this kind of geo-political global conflict. And that’s also the case with “all these things” predicted by Jesus. They are confined to the Roman Empire of Jesus’s day.

For more information: Gary DeMar has written an excellent book entitled “Wars and Rumors of Wars” that deals with this topic and many others within the Olivet. I would highly recommend picking up a copy of this book, especially if you have further questions.

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Wishing the Best for NFL’s Damar Hamlin

If you haven’t heard, a 24 year old NFL player collapsed on the field last night. He made a tackle, got up and then within seconds fell to the ground. It was such an ugly situation that many of the players immediately huddled into groups, some praying. That was a heartening sight even even if only for a moment. It’s amazing how quickly unbelievers resort to prayer. It’s beautiful thing when the sanctity of life is paramount.

According to sources, the young man, Damar Hamlin, suffered a cardiac event and is in critical condition. Dr. Mike Hansen, whom I follow on YouTube, referred to a condition caused by a blow to the chest that interrupts the rhythm of the heart, “When it gets to the point where it’s so severe where someone actually has a cardiac arrest, the first thing that comes to my mind is commodio cordis”. And this very well could have been the root cause.

In ESPN’s article today and on the NFL’s broadcast last night, not one word was uttered about the possibility of this having to do with an issue other than or in addition to the violent tackle. Donte Stalworth, a former player turned broadcaster, immediately concluded that it was the hard hit. Perhaps he was right. It clearly happened right after the tackle but I’ve seen far great contact without this kind of result. But, the question is, why didn’t anyone say what any thinking person should be pondering i.e. that this heart attack was caused by something other than the collision?

Cardiologist, Dr. Peter McCullough, believes that it was not comodio cordis because after the hit Hamlin stood back up and then collapsed. This happens to a couple dozen baseball players annually but they drop to the ground immediately and simply cannot stand up. This has NEVER happened in football. Dr. McCullough believes that this cardiac event was vaccine related. But of course this simply cannot be the cause since the ad revenue from Pfizer is off the charts.

The medical profession has been quick to dismiss Dr. McCullough’s claims as unhinged. On the Tucker Carlson show, Dr. McCullough made the claim that over 1,500 European athletes have had cardiac events with 2/3 dying. On Health Florida website in an article titled, “NFL player’s cardiac arrest spurs new wave of unfounded claims about COVID vaccines”, the following was written:

On the website “It’s not real research, but he quotes it as if it’s real research,” said Dr. Matthew Martinez, director of sports cardiology at Atlantic Health System in Morristown Medical Center. “Anybody can write a letter to the editor and then quote an article that has no academic rigor.”

In the same article it was further argued:

Though anti-vaccine influencers have insisted that sudden cardiac arrests during sports games are unprecedented, cardiologists say they’ve observed these traumatic events throughout their careers, and long before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There have always been cases of athletes having sudden cardiac death or cardiac arrest,” said Dr. Lawrence Phillips, sports health expert and cardiologist at NYU Langone Health. “I have not seen a change in the prevalence of them over the last couple of years versus earlier in my career.”

So is WhyDr. McCullough and the many who agree with him, just a bunch of quacks espousing unfounded conspiracy theories? Why are they so quick to dismiss all of this out of hand without doing any additional research?

On the night of the game, it took a an independent thinker like Ben Swann to say what is not allowed to even be thought. It’s growing old that we are allowing science and medicine to be controlled by politics. Correlation never proves causation, but since 2020 there have been unprecedented cardiac issues among what appear to be otherwise healthy young men, some in prime physical condition.

The truth is that none of us know what caused that cardiac arrest. And sadly, we may never find the truth if there was heart damage prior to the hit. It could have been a congenital heart defect. It could have been drug induced (legal or not). But the fact that not one commentator or physician dared speak of the sacrosanct mRNA vaxes as the possible contributing cause, is telling. And I believe it’s unhealthy that we have come to the place where politics controls debate, especially in medicine.

Much like the farce of manmade climate change, reaction to all things Covid (shots, masking, lockdowns and demonizing potential cures) are cultlike. It’s become a Covid Cult.

Science has been coopted by political ideology. There is no such thing as “settled science”. It is merely the observation of conditions which are later coalesced into theories. Often those theories are proved wrong when more data becomes available.

The bureaucrats told us certain things about the Covid vaccines and we believed them. Sure, I always had a healthy dose of skepticism but few believed they were doing anything intentionally nefarious. But now we know a great deal more than we did in December of 2020 when the vaxes were rolled out.

If hindsight is 20/20, I’m not convinced I would have taken the 2 Pfizer mRNA vaxes back in early 2021. With a very limited time to research and with such a dearth of available data, in an attempt to protect the vulnerable, I decided that it was prudent and loving to take the shots.

Since then we’ve been told one Covid lie after another. People were permanently suspended from Twitter and silenced on YouTube for daring to question the approved narrative that Covid was a freak of nature originating in the Wuhan wet market. It was even considered racist to call it the Wuhan or Chinese flu. But then again, everything is racist now days. Time Magazine just published a piece arguing that exercise is racist. I kid you not!

Now we’re relatively certain that Covid-19 originated in the Wuhan lab and that Fauci and Francis Collins (at the NIH) were doing everything in their power to cover their tracks. They blatantly lied to congress about doing gain of function research in Wuhan and I pray they’re soon tried for their many lies. We have learned from FOIA requests that $350m in royalties was paid to members of the NIH.

Then there was one vaccine lie after another. As we now know, the NIH, the drug companies, the FDA, and the CDC were all intentionally spreading misinformation while Twitter and the other big tech autocrats suppressed dissenting opinions (which they conveniently labeled as misinformation). If one dared challenge the potential dangers and/or the efficacy of the experimental vaccines, one was accused of being an accomplice to murder. The reactions were insane! And CNN, MSNBC and the rest of the left-leaning media treated the vaccines like the holy grail. The same with masking even though we knew early on that cloth masks were nothing more than a symbol of self-righteousness having little to no effect on the viral spread, though the CDC pretended otherwise.

Following are the big three vaccine lies. I say lies, not because they were later found to be untrue (which wouldn’t qualify as a lie), but because they knew they were lying at the time they were uttered. If we took the vaccines we were promised the following:

  1. You can’t get Covid (I became infected 6 months after the 2nd dose… and then again 5 months after that)
  2. You couldn’t spread it. (hundreds of millions have become infected by the vaccinated. The president even said that the vaccinated should be protected by the unvaccinated and I heard that utter foolishness repeated ad nauseum by the public. It blows my mind how mindless we have become. What in the world do the vaccinated need protection from if the vaccines are as efficacious as they believe them to be?)
  3. There are no serious side effects. (Massive clots, myocarditis, thousands of mysterious deaths etc.)

Dr. John Campbell, who has 2.6m subscribers, if one of the few to offer an objective analysis of the all things related to SARS COV2. Below he provides a reanalysis of mRNA trial data and it’s embarrassingly alarming. 

So, why did they lie and continue to lie? Perhaps because the politicians don’t want to give up their power? 

Though some of the more dubious anti-vaxer claims have been debunked that doesn’t mean that most of what we were told by leading experts were disseminating truth. They weren’t. And that’s why too many have lost trust in these regulatory bodies which are run by politically motivated bureaucrats. I have attempted to be fair-minded doing everything in my power to avoid confirmation bias. I would say that at least 70% of the experts I listen to are either self-proclaimed leftists or are centrists, so it’s not as if I’m only getting information from those whom I agree with politically. I will say that intellectually honest doctors like Vinah Prasad MD MPH, ZDogg MD, Paul Offit MD and Marty Makary MD, have helped partially restore my faith in the medical profession. From day one they have dealt fairly and honesty with the facts.

However, these men are by no means the norm. The majority of public health professionals have treated all things Covid like a political football? It’s been sadly pathetic to watch since science and medicine should be completely devoid of political ideology.

Dr. Robert Malone, a well known opponent of the experimental mRNA vaxes, was suspended by Twitter almost a year ago for “spreading misinformation and then recently reinstated when Musk began trying to right the Twitter ship. Though I don’t fall lockstep with Dr. Malone on all things mRNA, his voice and the voices of thousands of front-line doctors should not have been silenced. That’s what they do in communist countries. And, as it has turned out, most everything they were censured for was actually true. Most of what the MSM labeled misinformation a year ago has been found to be true.

Dr. Malone and the 17,000 physicians and scientist are now calling for the end of these experimental vaxes.

Pfizer and Moderna have raked in upwards of a $100B (which I don’t begrudge them for in terms free enterprise), and they have completely silenced dissent. The foxes are guarding the hen house and it has reached critical mass.

The next video from a year ago shows how Pfizer blackmails countries into submission. This is no conspiracy theory.

This next video from the Hill’s Kim Iversen, regards the Pfizer Vax Docs which were court ordered to be released. Pfizer did everything in their power to delay the data dump. Why? What did they have to hide? Well, quite a bit. At the time of the video it was only after the first document dump. Without the court order Pfizer would have had 55 years to release the data.

I couldn’t find the original montage since YouTube regularly silences free speech… so these are but a few of the Pfizer ads across the networks. If anyone thinks this ad revenue has no impact on MSM’s decisions to silence all dissenting opinion, they are naïve.

In closing, I pray that the young NFL star not only survives but goes on to have a successful NFL career. And I hope that his cardiac arrest was not due to any of the vaccines.

But, I unfortunately have little confidence that the truth will surface because truth has not exactly been the political machine’s strong suit. Let’s hope that as freedom begins to returns to Twitter (as the Twitter files continue to be released), that rigorous, productive debate will ensue. We simply cannot survive as a free people if we can’t question everything. 

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Time Keeps on Slipp’n, Slipp’n Into the Future…

The measurement of time has been consistent since the beginning. Yes, various calendars throughout the ages had to be retooled to fit our current Gregorian calendar, but the measurement of time has never been altered. A day was 24 hours in the beginning and it stands that way today. God graciously created time for our benefit.

Yet, when it comes to interpreting time sensitive words in the Bible concerning eschatological (last days) events that were to take place shortly, soon, at hand, or quickly, we’re constantly told that accepted linguistic rules simply don’t apply. So, contrary to the way all other pieces of literature in history are understood, many argue that the very Word of the living God stands completely alone in the way it must be interpreted. Let me elaborate.

When we read verses like “He who is coming will come and will not delay (Heb 10:37), “the end of all things is near (1 Pet 4:7) and “things which must take place shortly (Rev 1:1), we immediately default to an interpretational free-for-all arguing that time must be allegorized. It’s bizarre that this principle of interpretation has become the default position. If a passage doesn’t fit our preconceived eschatological paradigm, we lose all sense of intellectual honesty and look for an excuse to change what the plain language of these passages imply.

The argument usually goes like this. God is infinite and with Him there is neither beginning nor end. Therefore, to an eternal God, time is irrelevant. To Him a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day. All completely true. So, when God, through His inspired Canon authors, says that something must come to pass shortly, we immediately assume that God doesn’t really mean it. It’s assumed that God has chosen to speak in a manner only He can comprehend… and therefore, soon can be thousands of years and thousands of years can be soon.

If I had a dollar for every time someone quoted 2 Peter 3:8, “with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day” when confronted with passages they struggle to understand in context, I would be a wealthy man. Is this truly a legitimate method of interpretation? Every we come across “the end of all things is near”, is using 2 Peter 3:8 a legitimate argument which allows us to ignore the imminence and say, “God’s ways are not our way?”

Have you ever wondered why, if this passage means that time is irrelevant to God as He relates to His finite creatures, does He ever choose to use time sensitive words? Seriously, why? Why not, “the end of all things will one day come?” Why, when God fully knows what is meant by “soon” does He choose language which might confuse us? If soon and at hand can mean far-off, how can we know when God is speaking literally (as if He actually meant soon or far) and when He is speaking in some ethereal, eternal, other-worldly context? We act as though God is engaging in subterfuge and that concerns me a great deal.

We seem to forget that the Bible was written TO finite man who has both a beginning and an end. If we default to playing the 2nd Peter 3:8 card every time we are uncomfortable with the implications of a passage, pause and ask yourself if this is an honest interpretational rule. I find it ironic that those who consider themselves “literalists” are the ones who are so quick to nullify the imminent time expectancy of any anticipated event. If, in a given verse we aren’t supposed to know if shortly means thousands of years or if it actually means shortly, how can we possible understand what God is attempting to communicate?

Whether we read a piece of literature from the 2nd, 12th or 21st centuries, time is never allegorized, well except for interpreters of the Bible. If any author expects his/her readers to understand what he/she has written, how could “shortly” be stretched, elasticized or massaged? In all literature except THE ONE which is inspired, authoritative and inerrant, when something was said to take place soon or perhaps far off, we know exactly what the author means. So, how have we come to this place where the simplest of language (time sensitive words) has become so utterly ambiguous?

Let’s consider a few examples. When you read the following verse, do you have any doubt if Festus intended to remain only for a short period?

(Acts 25:4) us then answered that Paul was being kept in custody in Caesarea, and that he himself was about to leave shortly (tachos). 

Is there any ambiguity concerning what Festus meant by shortly? Does anyone actually think that Festus waited indefinitely? One need only read down two verses…

(Acts 25:6) After Festus had spent no more than eight or ten days among them, he went down to Caesarea, and on the next day he took his seat on the tribunal and ordered that Paul be brought.

So, why don’t we immediately assume that Festus may have remained for 10 or 20 years? You say, that’s absurd! And I agree because it’s obvious, but no less obvious than any other verse which contains similar imminent language. It should go without saying what the Greek word tachos (shortly) means, but sadly, it has become vogue to argue that shortly can mean thousands of years i.e. if it doesn’t fit the reader’s eschatological paradigm. Don’t you find it odd that we only use the 2 Peter 3:8 excuse in prophetic passages?

I would venture to guess that no one reading the above would question what Luke meant by shortly. And they, therefore, have no problem recognizing that tachos, in fact, means shortly.

Let’s look at a few more usages of tachos?

(1 Tim 3:14) I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long;

(Acts 12:7) And behold, an angel of the Lord suddenly stood near Peter, and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter’s side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And his chains fell off his hands.

(Acts 22:8) and I saw Him saying to me, ‘Hurry and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about Me.’

In these verses is there a even a remote doubt what tachos means? Whatever was going to happen, it would take place soon.

Let me also introduce another way to play fast and loose with the word tachos. Some have tried to another nuanced method of linguistic gymnastics. They say that tachos can mean doing something with incredible speed, and therefore, they argue that it has nothing to do with the duration of time until the event is supposed to take place. But rather it’s all about speed. Is this a legitimate argument?

Let’s see. Does it make any sense that “hurry and get out of Jerusalem quickly,” meant that they were supposed to wait for a long period, and then suddenly flee on a dead run? This is an absurd assertion driven solely by presupposition.

It might surprise you to know that I have actually heard a pastor use the above rationale that “tachos means lightning speed” in the following two verses. And, admittedly, I am baffled by it.

(Rev 1:1) The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John,

(Rev 22:6) And he said to me, “These words are faithful and true”; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show His bond-servants the things which must soon take place.

As the pastor began to preach through the Revelation (the unveiling) he actually argued that “must soon take place” had nothing whatsoever to do with the near-term expectancy of the events described thereafter. And he didn’t even play the 2nd Peter 3:8 “time is irrelevant to God” card. Rather, he argued that when the things were to happen they would happen with lightning quick speed. In other words, he said that tachos had to do with the speed of execution and was completely disconnected from the duration of time until fulfillment. So, in effect he said that Jesus could wait thousands of years and then when He executed the events He would do it with incredible speed. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but I am incredulous at such an assertion. Not only is that none what the word means, it’s never used that way in the Bible.

(Revelation 1:1)
1 This is the revelation of Jesus Christ [His unveiling of the divine mysteries], which God [the Father] gave to Him to show to His bond-servants (believers) the things which must soon take place [in their entirety]; and He sent and communicated it by His angel (divine messenger) to His bond-servant John,

Why would anyone much less a pastor make this argument? Because he simply refuses to acknowledge that the events in the Revelation “MUST take place shortly.” And, does “MUST take place FAST” even make sense? This, in my view, is a sad commentary on the state of hermeneutics employed by too many pastors.

The fact that tachos is never used in this manner doesn’t seem to be enough of a roadblock. I’m sure he hasn’t been the only one to make this argument, so it makes one wonder who originally concocted this idea? On its surface it seems absurd but digging deeper it is, borders on dishonest. I’m not accusing this pastor of intentional dishonesty because he has probably taken someone else’s word for it, but he is nonetheless responsible to rightly divide the Word. So I’m confident there was no ill intent, but at best it’s sloppy and unscholarly. That seems to be the lay of the land in the 21st century Wild West of hermeneutics. It seems too many will do anything to maintain their paradigm.

In both instances at the beginning and end of Revelation, tachos clearly means “right away”, having nothing whatsoever to do with the speed in which the event was carried out. If you have fallen for this line of reasoning, please pause and take inventory of how you are interpreting the Bible. This is a really a big deal and unwittingly gives the skeptics and critics fodder to wreak havoc.

So, let’s get back to the 2nd Peter 3:8 “time is irrelevant” card. This kind of interpretational end run is eroding not only the integrity of the Bible but it is compromising our credibility to an already skeptical world. Without presupposition, who would read “things which MUST TAKE PLACE SHORTLY” and think to themselves, oh, that means thousands of years? No one would come to that interpretation without being told.

Humor me and when you come to these “problem passages” (that are only a problem for one whose paradigm requires it), allow the Bible to speak for itself without reading into the Sacred Text. Allow shortly to mean shortly, and at hand to mean at hand and struggle with the implications. Then, if it puts you at odds with what you’ve been taught, perhaps you need to deconstruct a potentially errant view.

Back to the pastor. If it wasn’t problematic enough for him to redefine tachos, he then conveniently neglected to consider the implications of another imminent word two verses down. During the sermon he never even mentioned “for the time is near”. Why? Perhaps because he couldn’t fit “near” into his “it’s gonna happen at the speed of light” redefinition of tachos.

(Rev 1:3) Blessed is the one who reads, and those who hear the words of the prophecy and keep the things which are written in it; for the time is near

So what kind of linguistic gymnastics is required to push BOTH “things that must take place shortly” and “for the time is near” into the distant future?

“Near” is the Greek word engys, which means “near, imminent and soon”. So, if this pastor would have simply struggled a bit with the time essence in verse 3, he should have realized the impossibility of shoehorning his wishful redefinition of tachos to mean really, really, really fast. Engys can mean either near in space or time. It CANNOT and DOES NOT mean fast. And if you click on the hyperlinked engys you will see every usage in context. Here are but a few…

(Matt 24:33) so you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.

(Luke 21:30) as soon as they put forth leaves, you see for yourselves and know that summer is now near.

(Heb 8:13) When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is about to disappear.

(Rev 22:10) And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.

So, if one still believes that the “things which must take place shortly”… “for the time is near”, refers to events almost 2,000 years removed from the date the Revelation was written, they have unwittingly assaulted the integrity of language and have abandoned any semblance of sound interpretational methods. Consider these quotes from two 19th century scholars regarding 2 Peter 3:8. The first from Milton S. Terry who wrote “Biblical Hermeneutics.”

The language is a poetical citation from Psalm 90:4, and is adduced to show that the lapse of time does not invalidate the promises of God. . . . But this is very different from saying that when the everlasting God promises something shortly, and declares that it is close at hand, He may mean that it is a thousand years in the future. Whatever He has promised indefinitely He may take a thousand years or more to fulfill; but what He affirms to be at the door let no man declare to be far away. ((Milton S. Terry, Biblical Hermeneutics: A Treatise on the Interpretation of the Old and New Testaments (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1974), 406.))

J. Stuart Russell wrote with a bit more biting disdain for those who used 2 Peter 3:8 so carelessly:

Few passages have suffered more from misconstruction than this, which has been made to speak a language inconsistent with its obvious intention, and even incompatible with a strict regard to veracity.

There is probably an allusion here to the words of the Psalmist, in which he contrasts the brevity of human life with the eternity of the divine existence. . . . But surely it would be the height of absurdity to regard this sublime poetic image as a calculus for the divine measurement of time, or as giving us a warrant for wholly disregarding definitions of time in the predictions and promises of God.

Yet it is not unusual to quote these words as an argument or excuse for the total disregard for the element of time in the prophetic writings. Even in cases where a certain time is specified in the prediction, or where such limitations as ‘shortly,’ or ‘speedily,’ or ‘at hand’ are expressed, the passage before us is appealed to in justification of an arbitrary treatment of such notes of time, so that soon may mean late, and near may mean distant, and short may mean long, and vice versa. . . .

It is surely unnecessary to repudiate in the strongest manner such a non-natural method of interpreting the language of Scripture. It is worse than ungrammatical and unreasonable, it is immoral. It is to suggest that God has two weights and measures in His dealings with men, and that in His mode of reckoning there is an ambiguity and variableness which will make it impossible to tell ‘What manner of time the Spirit of Christ in the prophets may signify’[cf. 1 Pet. 1:11]…

The Scriptures themselves, however, give no countenance to such a method of interpretation. Faithfulness is one of the attributes most frequently ascribed to the ‘covenant-keeping God,’ and the divine faithfulness is that which the apostle in this very passage affirms. . . . The apostle does not say that when the Lord promises a thing for today He may not fulfill His promise for a thousand years: that would be slackness; that would be a breach of promise. He does not say that because God is infinite and everlasting, therefore He reckons with a different arithmetic from ours, or speaks to us in a double sense, or uses two different weights and measures in His dealings with mankind. The very reverse is the truth. . . .

It is evident that the object of the apostle in this passage is to give his readers the strongest assurance that the impending catastrophe of the last days were on the very eve of fulfillment. The veracity and faithfulness of God were the guarantees of the punctual performance of the promise. To have intimated that time was a variable quantity in the promise of God would have been to stultify and neutralize his own teaching, which was that ‘the Lord is not slack concerning His promise.’ ((J. Stuart Russell, The Parousia (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, [1887] 1983), 321ff. Owen, “Providential Changes: An Argument for Universal Holiness,” 134–35.))

Did you catch that? J. Stuart Russell didn’t just say that using 2 Peter 3:8 in this manner is ungrammatical, but is actually immoral.

Listen, I understand why so many covet the use of 2 Peter 3:8. I truly do. Anything to avoid dealing with the possibility that the Olivet Discourse/John’s Apocalypse, pertained to events in the first century and aren’t in our short-term future. As unnerving and disorienting as that is, wouldn’t it better to abandon the absurd notion that God can’t communicate clearly? God can, in fact, tell time and He made it abundantly clear through the prophet Ezekiel that he would no longer put up with those who refused to believe Him.

(Ezek 12:21-25) 21 Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 22 “Son of man, what is this proverb you people have about the land of Israel, saying, ‘The days are long, and every vision fails’? 23 Therefore say to them, ‘This is what the Lord God says: “I will put an end to this proverb so that they will no longer use it as a proverb in Israel.” But tell them, “The days are approaching as well as the fulfillment of every vision. 24 For there will no longer be any false vision or deceptive divination within the house of Israel. 25 For I the Lord will speak whatever word I speak, and it will be performed. It will no longer be delayed, for in your days, you rebellious house, I will speak the word and perform it,” declares the Lord God.’”

God made it crystal clear that whatever He spoke would NOT and could NOT be delayed. So why do people still cling so tightly to this elasticizing time method of interpretation? Because if we are forced to abandon playing the 2 Peter 3:8 card every time we encounter a verse that we don’t like the implication of, we will have to confront the reality of what the verse actually says.

for a more in-depth analysis of God’s usage of time throughout the Bible, click on this link.

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Should Matthew 24 Be Divided at Verse 36?

Many scholars argue that Matthew 24 (the Olivet discourse) should be divided at verse 36. They say that when Jesus used the phrase “But of THAT DAY” this is a clear demarcation of a changing subject matter. So they contend that through verse 35 Jesus was speaking of the “end of the age” and the destruction of Jerusalem, and then in 36 Jesus was speaking of His parousia at the end of time. At first glance this argument may sound tenable.

Matthew 24:34-36
34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.

Is verse 36 a dividing line in the chapter separated by 2,000 years? After employing “the analogy of faith” (allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture), one wonders why so many commentators and scholars came to the above conclusion. (The Olivet is found in Matthew 24, Luke 17, 21 and Mark 13) Look at the chart below.

Let’s break it down to make this clearer in order to test this “divided” hypothesis:

(SECTION A) includes events associated with the “end of the age and the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 – Matthew 24:1-35
(SECTION B) includes events still future to us – Matthew 24:36-51

Look at SECTION A on the upper left. It contains 3 events:
1. Housetop vv. 17-18
2. Lightning vv 26-27
3. Vulture vv 28

Then in SECTION B just below that, it contain 2 events:
4. Noah vv. 36-39
5. Two men vv. 40-41

Now let’s look at Luke’s account from in chapter 17 (on the right above) Luke 17 discusses the same events as Matthew 24, however there is not even a hint that two different time periods are under consideration. “On that day” in Luke’s account Jesus is referring to not going down from the housetop, yet in Matthew’s Gospel that same event is well before the dividing line in verse 36.

Luke lumps all these events together as if they would all happen in the same “day that the Son of Man is revealed” (vs. 30). Friend, Ed Stevens, wrote, “Luke gives no indication that he is talking about two different groups of events that would occur at two separate comings of the Son of Man separated by thousands of years.”

Notice on the chart above that Luke mentions the same events as Matthew, but in a different order. Matthew’s order is 1-2-3-4-5, but Luke’s order is scrambled 2-4-1-5-3! Luke has an event from SECTION A followed by one from SECTION B, then another from SECTION A followed by SECTION B, and finally one from SECTION A.

This presents what appears to be an insurmountable problem for those who believe that Matthew 24 should be divided.  If Matthew was referencing two sections (or two different time periods), then Luke’s account is incorrect, because he mixes the five events up as if they are all to happen in one time period. So, either Luke is mistaken (and therefore uninspired), or it is errant to divide Matthew 24 into two sections.

Stevens again, “Of course, the solution to this is that both Matthew and Luke speak of the same events which would all happen in the same time period. And, Matthew 24:34 tells us when that time period was to occur: the “generation” alive when He spoke those words (the generation from AD 30-70)! This is all the more apparent when we compare Matt. 24:34 (“this generation”) with Jesus’ comments a few hours before in Matt. 23:36 (“this generation”), as well as his statements to the disciples that “some of those standing here shall not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom” (Matt. 16:28).”

For further argumentation I recommend reading chapter 9 of John L. Bray’s “Matthew 24 Fulfilled”. I’ll link it HERE. If you would like to purchase the book, go to American Vision.

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What Does Peter Mean by the Passing Away of Heaven and Earth? A Study of 2 Peter 3

By Gary DeMar and David Chilton

If there’s one passage of Scripture that is repeatedly brought up as an indictment against anyone who objects to modern-day prophetic speculation, it is 2 Peter 3:3–18. If you dispute with those who argue that all the signs around us indicate that we are living in the “last days,” then you are labeled a “scoffer” or a “mocker” (2 Peter 3:3). If this is true, then how should we describe those who argued that proposed signs during the two world wars were not signs of the end? They were right! Were they “scoffers”? The same could be asked about those who rejected the claim that events surrounding the French Revolution in the 18th century were sure signs of a prophetic end of all things. Every generation has had those who claimed the end was near and those who argued that the end was not near. Appealing to contemporary signs to make predictions of a near end has a long history as Francis Gumerlock demonstrates in his book The Day and the Hour. One would think that by now Christians would stop doing it. But they don’t. They know revving people up over the “last days” sells books, lots of books.

The people Peter accuses of being “scoffers” were enemies of Jesus and the gospel. They scoffed at the claims made by Jesus that the temple would be destroyed and Jesus Himself would be the one to make it happen before their generation passed away. Since more than 30 years had passed since Jesus made this prediction, and the temple was still standing with no indication that it would be destroyed in less than a decade, they began to mock the words of Jesus. There’s a big difference between a “scoffer” who rejects biblical revelation, in this case, Jesus’ words, and someone who argues for an alternative position using sound biblical arguments. A person who disagrees with modern-day prophetic speculation is not a “scoffer,” especially when there have been so many failed attempts at predicting the certainty of the end over the years. One could just as easily make the case that modern-day prophetic speculators (you know who they are) are “scoffers” and “mockers” because they twist and distort Jesus’ clear words that He would return in judgment before that first-century generation passed away (Matt. 24:34). They try to argue that the Greek word genea, best translated as “generation,” can be translated as “race” or “nation.” When that doesn’t work, some argue that “this generation” (what’s present), should be translated “that generation” (what’s future). When Jesus’ clear words don’t suit their prophetic paradigm, words are removed and new words added. “This generation” becomes, “the generation that sees these signs,” as if Jesus was addressing a generation other than the one to whom He was speaking. Jesus made it clear that His present audience (“you”) would “see all these things” (Matt. 24:33).

Second Peter 3 links “scoffers” (v. 3 in KJV; “mockers” in NASV) with “the last days” (v. 3), “the promise of His coming” (v. 4), the “day of the Lord” (v. 10), and the passing away of the “heavens” and the “earth” (v. 10). The “last days,” in Peter’s use of the phrase, is not code for events leading up to either the “rapture” or the second coming. Gordon Clark comments:

“The last days,” which so many people think refers to what is sill future at the end of this age, clearly means the time of Peter himself. I John 2:18 says it is, in his day, the last hourActs 2:17 quoted Joel as predicting the last days as the lifetime of Peter. . . . Peter obviously means his own time. ((Gordon H. Clark, II Peter: A Short Commentary (Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1975), 64.))

There are other passages like Hebrews 1:1–2 (notice the use of the plural near demonstrative “these”), Hebrews 9:26 (notice the use of “now”), 1 Corinthians 10:11 (“upon whom the ends of the ages have come”), and James 5:3 (the storing up of their treasure was in “the last days”). The question is: The last days of what? The last days of the old covenant with its stone temple, blood sacrifices, and earthly sinful priesthood.

Given that most Christians who make the “scoffer” charge are premillennial, that is, they believe that after a future seven-year period of great tribulation, a thousand year reign of Jesus on the earth will immediately follow. It’s only after this 1007-year period that the events described in 2 Peter 3 are said to be fulfilled. The “new heaven and a new earth” comes into existence after “the first heaven and the first earth passed away” (Rev. 21:1). These events follow the thousand year period of Revelation 20. Given premillennial assumptions (which I believe are wrong), it is biblical to argue that the events described by Peter cannot be near. How can a person be a “scoffer” or a “mocker” of near events when the supposed dissolution of the cosmos is more than a millennium away? It doesn’t make any sense. The charge only makes sense if the described events are actually near, near to Peter’s generation.

Those in Peter’s audience were looking “for these things” (2 Peter 3:3). How could they be looking for “these things” if they were at least 1007 years in their future? In fact, once Jesus sets foot on planet earth again, according to premillennialism, it will be quite easy to calculate when the events of 2 Peter 3 will take place—exactly a thousand years later. To silence a “scoffer,” all a person has to say is, “Look, God promised that these events won’t happen for a thousand years.” This means that for the premillennialist, the events revealed and described by Peter can’t have anything to do with our time. They are still far in the future. This means that this section of Scripture can’t be used to club those who reject the notion that we are living in the last days. Peter specifically says, once again following the premillennial paradigm, the last days are at this moment in time at least 1007 years in the future. So, if the “last days” refer to the period just before the dissolution of the cosmos that is at least 1007 years in our future, then we can’t be living in the “last days” and there are no signs that can be called in evidence to support the claim that a new physical heaven and earth are on the prophetic horizon.

The language of 2 Peter 3 is certainly apocalyptic and world ending, but is Peter describing the end of the space time universe as we generally conceive it or is he describing the end of a different type of world? The only way to know is to study similar language found in the Old Testament. In Micah 1:1, a prophetic word was revealed “to Micah of Moresheth in the days of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.” Micah’s prophecy isn’t about a time in the distant future. Rather, it’s about “the rebellion of Jacob and for the sins of the house of Israel” because of “the high place of Judah” (Micah 1:5). The prophecy is about a time when idol worship dominated the nation (Micah 1:6–7). Notice how the imminent judgment is described:

Hear, O peoples, all of you; Listen, O earth and all it contains,
And let the Lord GOD be a witness against you,
The Lord from His holy temple.
For behold, the Lord is coming forth from His place.
He will come down and tread on the high places of the earth.
The mountains will melt under Him
And the valleys will be split,
Like wax before the fire,
Like water poured down a steep place.

God is calling the world as a witness against His covenant people who had the law against idols and graven images given to them in a personal way, in commandments written on stone (Rev. 20). God is described coming down that has the effect of melting the mountains, splitting the valleys, and flooding the land with the melted debris. This language is used elsewhere to describe similar local events (Judges 5:42 Sam. 22Ps. 18:7–1068:8Isa. 64:1–2). It’s the language of decreation. Did the mountains melt? No more than the “foundations of the world were laid bare” (Psalm 18:15) when David battled “all his enemies” (see the Prologue to the Psalm).

We find something similar in the book of Zephaniah. A local judgment that has national consequences for Judah and Jerusalem (1:4) is described in a way that depicts the end of the earth and every living thing on it:

“I will completely remove all things
From the face of the earth,” declares the Lord.

“I will remove man and beast;
I will remove the birds of the sky
And the fish of the sea,
And the ruins along with the wicked;
And I will cut off man from the face of the earth,” declares the Lord (Zeph. 1:2–3).

This local judgment is a reversal of creation. Later in the chapter we read, “Near is the great day of the Lord, near and coming very quickly. . . . And all the earth will be devoured in the fire of His jealousy, for He will make a complete end, indeed a terrifying one, of all the inhabitants of the earth” (1:14, 18). Notice the use of “fire,” “a complete end,” including the end of the earth. Peter uses the same language. He writes from the vantage point of his day that “the end of all things is at hand” (1 Peter. 4:7; cf. “in these last times”: 1:20). Like in Zephaniah, this prophetic description can hardly be a declaration that the end of the physical universe was about to take place. The Bible’s use of “at hand” (near) indicates that whatever this end is, it was near for Peter and his first-century audience. Jay E. Adams offers a helpful commentary on the passage, taking into account its historical and theological context:

In six or seven years from the time of writing, the overthrow of Jerusalem, with all its tragic stories, as foretold in the Book of Revelation and in the Olivet Discourse upon which that part is based, would take place. Titus and Vespasian would wipe out the old order once and for all. All those forces that led to the persecution and exile of these Christians in Asia Minor—the temple ceremonies (outdated by Christ’s death), Pharisaism (with its distortion of O.T. law into a system of works-righteousness) and the political stance of Palestinian Jewry toward Rome—would be erased. The Roman armies would wipe Jewish opposition from the face of the land. Those who survived the holocaust of A.D. 70 would themselves be dispersed around the Mediterranean world. “So,” says Peter, “hold on; the end is near.” The full end of the O.T. order (already made defunct by the cross and the empty tomb) was about to occur. ((Jay E. Adams, Trust and Obey: A Practical Commentary on First Peter (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1978), 129–130.

Adam Clarke (1762–1832) writes the following in his commentary on 1 Peter 4:7:

[First] Peter was written before A.D. 70 (when the destruction of Jerusalem took place)…. The persecution (and martyrdom) that these (largely) Jewish Christians had been experiencing up until now stemmed principally from unconverted Jews (indeed, his readers had found refuge among Gentiles as resident aliens)… [H]e refers to the severe trials that came upon Christians who had fled Palestine under attack from their unconverted fellow Jews. The end of all things (that had brought this exile about) was near.

“Peter says, The end of all things is at hand; and this he spoke when God had determined to destroy the Jewish people and their polity by one of the most signal judgments that ever fell upon any nation or people. In a very few years after St. Peter wrote this epistle, even taking it at the lowest computation, viz., A. D. 60 or 61, Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. To this destruction, which was literally then at hand, the apostle alludes when he says, The end of all things is at hand; the end of the temple, the end of the Levitical priesthood, the end of the whole Jewish economy, was then at hand.” (Clarke’s Commentary on The New Testament of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, 2 vols. [New York: Carlton & Porter, 1810], 2:864).))

What “promise of His coming” (2 Peter 3:4) does Peter have in mind? Peter was present when Jesus told him and some of the other apostles, “there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” (Matt. 16:27–28). This event had to be in the lifetime of Jesus’ audience. In similar fashion, Jesus told His disciples that He would return in judgment before “this generation” passed away (24:34). Jesus always uses “this generation” to refer to His contemporaries (Matt. 11:1612:414223:36Mark 8:1213:30Luke 7:3111:29303132505117:2521:32). He never uses “this generation” to refer to a future generation.

The parousia (“coming”/ “presence”) is a time of divine judgment (Matt. 24:27) upon the old covenant world. Peter was present when Jesus told him that He would return in judgment within a generation (Mark 13:330). In the next verse, Jesus tells Peter and those who are with him that “heaven and earth will pass away” (Mark 13:31; Matt. 24:35). The burning up of “heaven and earth” is a reference to the end of the old covenant economy. As Jews who were familiar with the Old Testament, they would not have understood Jesus’ words in any other way. Between Matthew 16:27–28 and 24:34, Jesus tells His disciples that Jerusalem will be burned with fire (22:7). With that burning, everything associated with the old economy went with it.

Peter Leithart puts the chapter in context for us:

“But wherever would the mockers have gotten the idea that Jesus was coming before the ‘fathers” died? Why, lo and behold, Jesus said exactly that. The whole debate presupposes that Jesus promised to come soon. Without that premise, neither the mockers’ mockery nor Peter’s letter makes any sense. Peter and his opponents differ on the crucial question of the promise’s reliability, but they agree on its content.” ((Peter J. Leithart, The Promise of His Appearing: An Exposition of Second Peter (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2004), 83.))

The “fathers” (2 Peter 3:4) are the true early church fathers, those who died since Jesus promised that they would come before their generation passed away (Matt. 24:34; see 24:9; John 16:2Acts 7:54–6012:2).

There’s much more that can be said about 2 Peter 3. The following section was written by the late David Chilton (1951–1997). David left behind a large body of work on eschatology: a verse-by-verse commentary on the book of Revelation (The Days of Vengeance), a work on prophetic interpretive principles (Paradise Restored), and an exposition of the Olivet Discourse (The Great Tribulation).

PODCAST on 2 Peter 3 – Covenantal not Cosmic

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Looking for a New Heaven and Earth

According to St. Peter’s second epistle, Christ and the apostles had warned that apostasy would accelerate toward the end of the “last days” (2 Pet. 3:2–4; cf. Jude 17–19)—the forty-year period between Christ’s ascension and the destruction of the Old Covenant Temple in A.D. 70. ((For a defense of this position, see David Chilton, Paradise Restored: A Biblical Theology of Dominion, 2nd ed. (Horn Lake, MS: TX: Dominion Press, [1985] 2007), 112–122.

The fact is that every time Scripture uses the term “last days” (and similar expressions) it means, not the end of the physical universe, but the period from A.D. 30 to A.D. 70—the period during which the Apostles were preaching and writing, the “last days” of Old Covenant Israel before it was forever destroyed in the destruction of the Temple (and consequently the annihilation of the Old Covenant sacrificial system) described by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24:1–34Acts 2:16–211 Tim. 4:1–32 Tim. 3:1–9Hebrews 1:1–28:139:26James 5:7–91 Peter 1:204:71 John 2:18Jude 17–19).

See also John Bray’s excellent booklet Are We Living in the Last Days? (Lakeland, FL: John L. Bray Ministry) and Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness: Obsession of the Modern Church, 4th ed. (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision 1999).)) He makes it clear that these latter-day “mockers” were Covenant apostates: familiar with Old Testament history and prophecy, they were Jews who had abandoned the Abrahamic Covenant by rejecting Christ. As Jesus had repeatedly warned (cf. Matt. 12:38–4516:1–423:29–39), upon this evil and perverse generation would come the great “Day of Judgment” foretold in the prophets, a “destruction of ungodly men” like that suffered by the wicked of Noah’s day (2 Pet. 3:5–7). Throughout His ministry Jesus drew this analogy (see Matt. 24:37–39 and Luke 17:26–27). Just as God destroyed the “world” of the antediluvian era by the Flood, so would the “world” of first-century Israel be destroyed by fire in the fall of Jerusalem.

St. Peter describes this judgment as the destruction of “the present heavens and earth” (2 Pet. 3:7), making way for “new heavens and a new earth” (2 Pet. 3:10). Because of what may be called the “collapsing-universe” terminology used in this passage, many have mistakenly assumed that St. Peter is speaking of the final end of the physical heaven and earth, rather than the dissolution of the Old Covenant world order. The great seventeenth-century Puritan theologian John Owen answered this view by referring to the Bible’s very characteristic metaphorical usage of the terms heavens and earth, as in Isaiah’s description of the Mosaic Covenant:

For I am the LORD your God, who stirs up the sea and its waves roar (the LORD of hosts is His name). I have put My words in your mouth and have covered you with the shadow of My hand, to establish the heavens, to found the earth, and to say to Zion, “You are My people” (Isa. 51:15–16).

Owen writes:

The time when the work here mentioned, of planting the heavens, and laying the foundation of the earth, was performed by God, was when he “divided the sea” ([Isa. 51] v.15), and gave the law (v. 16), and said to Zion, “Thou art my people”—that is, when he took the children of Israel out of Egypt, and formed them in the wilderness into a congregation of believers and a civil state. Then he planted the heavens, and laid the foundation of the earth—made the new world; that is, brought forth order, and government, and beauty, from the confusion wherein before they were. This is the planting of the heavens, and laying the foundation of the earth in the world. And hence it is that when mention is made of the destruction of a state and its government, it is in that language that seems to set forth the end of the world.

So Isaiah 34 which is the destruction of the state of Edom. The like is also affirmed of the Roman Empire (Rev. 6:14) which the Jews constantly affirm to be intended by Edom in the prophets. And in our Saviour Christ’s prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem, Matthew 24, he sets it out by expressions of the same importance. It is evident then, that, in the prophetical idiom and manner of speech, by “heavens” and “earth,” the civil and religious state and combination of men in the world, and the men of them, are often understood. So were the heavens and earth that world which was then destroyed by the flood. ((John Owen, “Providential Changes: An Argument for Universal Holiness,” in William H. Goold, ed., The Works of John Owen, 16 vols. (London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1965–68), 9:134.))

Another Old Testament text, among many that could be mentioned, is Jeremiah 4:23–31, which speaks of the imminent fall of Jerusalem (587 B.C.) in similar language of decreation:

I looked on the earth, and behold, it was formless and void; and to the heavens, and they had no light. . . . For thus says the LORD, the whole land shall be a desolation [referring to the curse of Lev. 26:31–33; see its fulfillment in Matt. 24:15!], yet I will not execute a complete destruction. For this the earth shall mourn, and the heavens above be dark. . . .

From the very beginning, God’s covenant with Israel had been expressed in terms of a new creation: Moses described Israel’s salvation in the wilderness in terms of the Spirit of God hovering over a waste, just as in the original creation of heaven and earth (Deut. 32:10–11; cf. Gen. 1:2). ((See Chilton, Paradise Restored, 59.)) In the Exodus, as at the original creation, God divided light and darkness (Ex. 14:20), divided the waters from the waters to bring forth the dry land (Ex. 14:21–22), and planted His people in His holy mountain (Ex. 15:17). God’s miraculous formation of Israel was thus an image of Creation, a redemptive recapitulation of the making of heaven and earth. The Old Covenant order, in which the entire world was organized around the central sanctuary of the Jerusalem Temple, could quite appropriately be described, before its final dissolution, as “the present heavens and earth.”

The 19th-century expositor John Brown wrote:

“A person at all familiar with the phraseology of the Old Testament scriptures knows that the dissolution of the Mosaic economy, and the establishment of the Christian, is often spoken of as the removing of the old earth and heavens, and the creation of a new earth and heavens. . . . The period of the close of the one dispensation, and the commencement of the other, is spoken of as `the last days’ and `the end of the world’; and is described as such a shaking of the earth and heavens, as should lead to the removal of the things which were shaken (Hag. 2:6Heb. 12:26–27).” ((John Brown, Discourses and Sayings of Our Lord, 3 vols. (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, [1852] 1990), 1:171f.))

Therefore, says Owen,

“On this foundation I affirm that the heavens and earth here intended in this prophecy of Peter, the coming of the Lord, the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men, mentioned in the destruction of that heaven and earth, do all of them relate, not to the last and final judgment of the world, but to that utter desolation and destruction that was to be made of the Judaical church and state”—i.e., the Fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. ((Owen, “Providential Changes: An Argument for Universal Holiness,” 9:134.))

This interpretation is confirmed by St. Peter’s further information: In this imminent “Day of the Lord” which was about to come upon the first-century world “like a thief” (cf. Matt. 24:42–431 Thess. 5:2Rev. 3:3), “the elements will be destroyed with intense heat” (2 Peter 3:10; cf. v. 12). What are these elements? So-called “literalists” lightly and carelessly assume that the apostle is speaking about physics, using the term to mean atoms (or perhaps subatomic particles), the actual physical components of the universe. What these “literalists” fail to recognize is that although the word elements (stoicheia) is used several times in the New Testament, it is never used in connection with the physical universe! (In this respect, the very misleading comments of the New Geneva Study Bible on this passage violate its own interpretive dictum that “Scripture interprets Scripture.”

For possible meanings of this term, it cites pagan Greek philosophers and astrologers—but never the Bible’s own use of the term!) Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of New Testament Words observes that while in pagan literature the word is used in a number of different ways (referring to the “four elements” of the physical world, or to the “notes” on a musical scale, or to the “principles” of geometry or logic), the New Testament writers use the term “in a new way, describing the stoicheia as weak and beggarly. In a transferred sense, the stoicheia are the things on which pre-Christian existence rests, especially in pre-Christian religion. These things are impotent; they bring bondage instead of freedom.” ((Gerhard Kittel and Gerhard Friedrich, eds., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, one-volume edition edited by Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1985), 1088.))

Throughout the New Testament, the word “elements” (stoicheia) is always used in connection with the Old Covenant order. St. Paul used the term in his stinging rebuke to the Galatian Christians who were tempted to forsake the freedom of the New Covenant for an Old Covenant-style legalism. Describing Old Covenant rituals and ceremonies, he says “we were in bondage under the elements (stoicheia) of this world. . . . How is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements (stoicheia), to which you desire again to be in bondage? You observe days and months and seasons and years. . . .” (Gal. 4:39–10).

He warns the Colossians: “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the basic principles (stoicheia) of the world, and not according to Christ. . . . Therefore, if you died with Christ to the basic principles (stoicheia) of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations—‘Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle’” (Col. 2:820–21). The writer to the Hebrews chided them: “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elements (stoicheia) of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food” (Heb. 5:12).

In context, the writer to the Hebrews is clearly speaking of Old Covenant [elements that the book of Hebrews argues have passed away]—particularly since he connects it with the term oracles of God, an expression used elsewhere in the New Testament for the provisional, Old Covenant revelation (see Acts 7:38Rom. 3:2). These citations from Galatians, Colossians, and Hebrews comprise all the other occurrences in the New Testament of that word “elements” (stoicheia). Not one refers to the “elements” of the physical world or universe; all are speaking of the “elements” of the Old Covenant system, which, as the apostles wrote just before the approaching destruction of the Old Covenant Temple in A. D. 70, was “becoming obsolete and growing old” and “ready to vanish away” (Heb. 8:13). And St. Peter uses the same term in exactly the same way. Throughout the Greek New Testament, the word “elements” (stoicheia) always means [covenantal elements], not [physical elements]; the foundational “elements” of a religious system that was doomed to pass away in a fiery judgment [Matt. 22:7].

In fact, St. Peter was quite specific about the fact that he was not referring to an event thousands of years in their future, but to something that was already taking place:

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements (stoicheia) will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things are being dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements (stoicheiaare being melted with fervent heat? (2 Pet. 3:10–12)

Contrary to the misleading renderings of translators blinded by their presuppositions, St. Peter insists that the dissolution of “the present heaven and earth”—the Old Covenant system with its obligatory rituals and bloody sacrifices—was already beginning to occur: the “universe” of the Old Covenant was coming apart, never to be revived:

When did prophet and vision cease from Israel? Was it not when Christ came, the Holy one of holies? It is, in fact, a sign and notable proof of the coming of the Word that Jerusalem no longer stands, neither is prophet raised up, nor vision revealed among them. And it is natural that it should be so, for when He that was signified had come, what need was there any longer of any to signify Him? And when the Truth had come, what further need was there of the shadow? . . . And the kingdom of Jerusalem ceased at the same time, kings were to be anointed among them only until the Holy of holies had been anointed. ((St. Athanasius, On the Incarnation of the Word of God (New York: Macmillan, 1946), [40] 61f.))

St. Peter’s message, John Owen argues, is that “the heavens and earth that God himself planted—the sun, moon, and stars of the judaical polity and church—the whole old world of worship and worshippers, that stand out in their obstinacy against the Lord Christ—shall be sensibly dissolved and destroyed.” ((Owen, “Providential Changes: An Argument for Universal Holiness,” 9:135.))

+As we have seen, Puritan theologian John Owen, the author of the seven-volume commentary on the book of Hebrews, argued that the teaching of 2 Peter 3 about the coming “Day of the Lord” was not about the end of the physical universe, but of the Old Covenant and the nation of Israel. He points out that the phrase “heavens and earth” is often used in the Old Testament as a symbolic expression for God’s covenantal creation, Israel (see Isa. 51:15–20Jer. 4:23–31). Owen writes:

“the heavens and earth that God himself planted—the sun, moon, and stars of the judaical polity and church—the whole old world of worship and worshippers, that stand out in their obstinacy against the Lord Christ—shall be sensibly dissolved and destroyed.” ((Owen, “Providential Changes: An Argument for Universal Holiness,” 9:135.))

Owen offers two further reasons (“of many that might be insisted on from the text,” he says) for adopting the A.D. 70 fulfillment of 2 Peter 3. First, he observes, “whatever is here mentioned was to have its particular influence on the men of that generation.” ((Owen, “Providential Changes: An Argument for Universal Holiness,” 9:134.)) That is a crucial point, which must be clearly recognized in any honest assessment of the apostle’s meaning. St. Peter is especially concerned that his first-century readers remember the apostolic warnings about “the last days” (vv. 2–3; cf. 1 Tim. 4:1–62 Tim. 3:1–9). During these times, the Jewish scoffers of his day, clearly familiar with the Biblical prophecies of judgment, were refusing to heed those warnings (vv. 3–5). He exhorts his readers to live holy lives in the light of this imminent judgment (vv. 11, 14); and it is these early Christians who are repeatedly mentioned as actively “looking for and hastening” the judgment (vv. 12, 13, 14). It is precisely the nearness of the approaching conflagration that St. Peter cites as a motive to diligence in godly living!

An obvious objection to such an exposition is to refer to what is probably the most well-known, most-misunderstood text in St. Peter’s brief epistle: “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Pet. 3:8). This means, it is said, that “God’s arithmetic is different from ours,” so that when Scripture uses terms like “near” and “shortly” (e.g., Rev. 1:13) or “at hand” (e.g., James 5:5–7), it doesn’t intend to give the impression of soon-approaching events, but of events possibly thousands of years in the future! Milton Terry refuted this seemingly plausible but spurious theory:

The language is a poetical citation from Psalm 90:4, and is adduced to show that the lapse of time does not invalidate the promises of God. . . . But this is very different from saying that when the everlasting God promises something shortly, and declares that it is close at hand, He may mean that it is a thousand years in the future. Whatever He has promised indefinitely He may take a thousand years or more to fulfill; but what He affirms to be at the door let no man declare to be far away. ((Milton S. Terry, Biblical Hermeneutics: A Treatise on the Interpretation of the Old and New Testaments (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1974), 406.))

J. Stuart Russell wrote with biting disdain:

Few passages have suffered more from misconstruction than this, which has been made to speak a language inconsistent with its obvious intention, and even incompatible with a strict regard to veracity.

There is probably an allusion here to the words of the Psalmist, in which he contrasts the brevity of human life with the eternity of the divine existence. . . . But surely it would be the height of absurdity to regard this sublime poetic image as a calculus for the divine measurement of time, or as giving us a warrant for wholly disregarding definitions of time in the predictions and promises of God.

Yet it is not unusual to quote these words as an argument or excuse for the total disregard for the element of time in the prophetic writings. Even in cases where a certain time is specified in the prediction, or where such limitations as ‘shortly,’ or ‘speedily,’ or ‘at hand’ are expressed, the passage before us is appealed to in justification of an arbitrary treatment of such notes of time, so that soon may mean late, and near may mean distant, and short may mean long, and vice versa. . . .

It is surely unnecessary to repudiate in the strongest manner such a non-natural method of interpreting the language of Scripture. It is worse than ungrammatical and unreasonable, it is immoral. It is to suggest that God has two weights and measures in His dealings with men, and that in His mode of reckoning there is an ambiguity and variableness which will make it impossible to tell ‘What manner of time the Spirit of Christ in the prophets may signify’[cf. 1 Pet. 1:11]…

The Scriptures themselves, however, give no countenance to such a method of interpretation. Faithfulness is one of the attributes most frequently ascribed to the ‘covenant-keeping God,’ and the divine faithfulness is that which the apostle in this very passage affirms. . . .

The apostle does not say that when the Lord promises a thing for today He may not fulfill His promise for a thousand years: that would be slackness; that would be a breach of promise.

He does not say that because God is infinite and everlasting, therefore He reckons with a different arithmetic from ours, or speaks to us in a double sense, or uses two different weights and measures in His dealings with mankind. The very reverse is the truth. . . .

It is evident that the object of the apostle in this passage is to give his readers the strongest assurance that the impending catastrophe of the last days were on the very eve of fulfillment. The veracity and faithfulness of God were the guarantees of the punctual performance of the promise. To have intimated that time was a variable quantity in the promise of God would have been to stultify and neutralize his own teaching, which was that ‘the Lord is not slack concerning His promise.’ ((J. Stuart Russell, The Parousia (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, [1887] 1983), 321ff. Owen, “Providential Changes: An Argument for Universal Holiness,” 134–35.))

Continuing his analysis, John Owen cites 2 Peter 3:13: “But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” Owen asks: “What is that promise? Where may we find it?” Good question. Do you know the answer? Where in the Old Testament does God promise a New Heaven and Earth? Incidentally, this raises a wider, fascinating issue: When the New Testament quotes or cites an Old Testament text, it’s often a good idea to hunt down the original citation, see what it meant in its original context, and then see the “spin” the New Testament writer places on it. (For example, Isaiah’s prophecy of a gigantic highway-construction project [Isa. 40:3–5] is not interpreted literally in the New Testament, but metaphorically, of the preaching ministry of John the Baptist [Luke 3:4–6]. And Isaiah’s prophecy of a “golden age” when the wolf dwells peaceably with the lamb [Isa. 11:1–10] is condensed and cited by St. Paul as a present fulfillment, in the New Covenant age [Rom. 15:12])! But John Owen, this Puritan scholar, knows his Bible better than most of the rest of us, and he tells us exactly where the Old Testament foretells a “new heaven and earth”:

What is that promise? Where may we find it? Why, we have it in the very words and letter, Isaiah 65:17. Now, when shall this be that God will create these “new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness”? Saith Peter, It shall be after the coming of the Lord, after that judgment and destruction of ungodly men, who obey not the gospel, that I foretell. But now it is evident, from this place of Isaiah, with chapter 66:21–22, that this is a prophecy of gospel times only; and that the planting of these new heavens is nothing but the creation of gospel ordinances, to endure forever. The same thing is so expressed in Hebrews 12:26–28. ((Owen, “Providential Changes: An Argument for Universal Holiness,” 9:134f.))

Owen is right on target, asking the question that so many expositors fail to ask: Where had God promised to bring “new heavens and a new earth”? The answer, as Owen correctly states, is only in Isaiah 65 and 66—passages which clearly prophesy the period of the Gospel, brought in by the work of Christ. According to Isaiah himself, this “New Creation” cannot possibly be the eternal state, since it contains birth and death, building and planting (Isa. 65:20–23). The “new heavens and earth” promised to the Church comprise the age of the New Covenant—the Gospel’s triumph, when all mankind will come to bow down before the Lord (Isa. 66:22–23).

John Bray writes:

“This passage is a grand description of the gospel age after Christ came in judgment in 70 A.D. and took away the old heavens and the old earth. We now have the new heavens and the new earth of the gospel age.” ((John L. Bray, Heaven and Earth Shall Pass Away (Lakeland, FL: John L. Bray Ministry), 26.))

St. Peter’s encouragement to the Church of his day was to be patient, to wait for God’s judgment to destroy those who were persecuting the faith and impeding its progress. “The end of all things is at hand,” he had written earlier (1 Pet. 4:7). John Brown commented:

“The end of all things” here is the entire end of the Jewish economy in the destruction of the temple and city of Jerusalem, and the dispersal of the holy people. That was at hand; for this epistle seems to have been written a very short while before these events took place. . . . It is quite plain that in our Lord’s predictions, the expressions “the end” and probably “the end of the world” are used in reference to the entire dissolution of the Jewish economy (cf. Matt. 24:361434Rom. 13:11–12James 5:8–9). ((Quoted in Roderick Campbell, Israel and the New Covenant (Philadelphia, PA: Presbyterian and Reformed, [1954] 2010), 107.))

Once the Lord came to destroy the scaffolding of the Old Covenant structure, the New Covenant Temple would be left in its place, and the victorious march of the Church would be unstoppable. According to God’s predestined design, the world will be converted; the earth’s treasures will be brought into the City of God, as the Paradise Mandate (Gen. 1:27–28Matt. 28:18–20) is consummated (Rev. 21:1–27).

This is why the apostles constantly affirmed that the age of consummation had already been implemented by the resurrection and ascension of Christ, who poured out the Holy Spirit. St. Paul, writing of the redeemed individual, says that “if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). St. John, recording his vision of the redeemed culture, says the same thing: “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth. . . . The first things have passed away. . . . Behold, I am making all things new” (Rev. 21:1–5). The writer to the Hebrews comforts his first-century readers with the assurance that they have already arrived at “the City of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Heb. 12:22; cf. Gal. 26–28Rev. 21). Even as the old “heaven and earth” were being shaken to rubble, the early Christians were “receiving a Kingdom which cannot be shaken,” the eternal Kingdom of God brought in by His Son (Heb. 12:26–28). Milton Terry has written:

The language of 2 Pet. 3:10–12 is taken mainly from Isa. 34:4, and is limited to the parousia, like the language of Matt. 24:29. Then the Lord made “not only the land but also the heaven” to tremble (Heb. 12:26), and removed the things that were shaken in order to establish a kingdom which cannot be moved. ((Terry, Biblical Hermeneutics, 489.))

It is crucial to note that the apostle continually points his readers’ attention, not to events that were to take place thousands of years in the future, but to events that were already beginning to take place. Otherwise, his closing words make no sense at all: “Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless. . . . You, therefore, beloved, since you know these things beforehand, beware lest you fall from your own steadfastness. . .” (2 Pet. 3:14–17). If these things refer to a 21st-century thermonuclear holocaust, why would the inspired apostle direct such a serious exhortation against “falling from steadfastness” to thousands of readers who would never live to see the things he foretold? A cardinal rule of Biblical interpretation is that Scripture must interpret Scripture; and, particularly, that the New Testament is God’s own inspired commentary on the meaning of the Old Testament.

Once the old had been swept away, St. Peter declared, the Age of Christ would be fully established, an era “in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet. 3:13). The distinguishing characteristic of the new era, in stark contrast to what preceded it, would be righteousness—increasing righteousness, as the Gospel would be set free in its mission to the nations. There have been many battles throughout Church history, of course, and many battles lie ahead. But these must not blind us to the very real progress that the Gospel has made and continues to make in the world. The New World Order of the Lord Jesus Christ has arrived; and, according to God’s promise, the saving knowledge of Him will fill the earth, as the waters cover the sea (Isa. 11:9).

About Gary DeMar:
Gary—who served as President of American Vision for thirty-five years—is a graduate of Western Michigan University (1973) and earned his M.Div. at Reformed Theological Seminary in 1979. Author of countless essays, news articles, and more than 35 book titles, he has been featured by nearly every major news media outlet. Gary also has hosted The Gary DeMar ShowHistory Unwrapped, and the Gary DeMar’s Vantage Point Webshow and is a regular contributor to Gary has lived in the Atlanta area since 1979 with his wife, Carol. They have two married sons and are enjoying being grandparents. Gary and Carol are members of Midway Presbyterian Church (PCA).

ABOUT David Chilton:
David was an American pastorReconstructionist, speaker and author of several books on economicseschatology and Christian Worldview from Placerville, California. He contributed three books on eschatology: Paradise Restored (1985), The Days of Vengeance (1987), and The Great Tribulation (1987). His book Productive Christians in an Age of Guilt-Manipulators: A Biblical Response to Ronald J. Sider (1981) was a response to Ronald J. Sider’s best-selling book, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger: A Biblical Study (1977), which promoted various programs of wealth redistribution by the government. Chilton argued that the Bible either does not authorize such programs or explicitly teaches against them.

Gary DeMar wrote a companion article he titled, “John Lightfoot on the New Heavens and Earth” which can be found HERE.

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Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven

Over the years I have been disappointed in the subtle, unintentional assault upon the Gospel. Asking a hypothetical question, “If you stood before God and He asked you why He should let you into His Heaven” what would be your response? Most Christians say something like this:  “Because of my faith in Jesus’s sacrificial death on the cross.” Few who identify as “Christian” would say, “Because of my works.” And this is great!

However, when asking ourselves how we KNOW that we are saved from God’s eternal wrath, our answers and our assurance become fuzzier. How do you know that you are saved? Would you rely on your faith, your actions or a combination? Again, most would immediately say it’s their faith that they are relying on.

But, when we consider the proof of our salvation, we begin to focus on what we have done.  We often turn inward and question whether our faith was genuine. Unintentionally, faith takes a back seat to works. We determine (and it may be the case) that when the works aren’t present that our faith may not have been authentic.

So, we begin to ask questions along these lines. Did I “really” believe? Are my works commensurate with my faith? Are my sin patterns exemplary of a lifestyle void of faith? Thus, $64,000 question is: How do you gain unequivocal assurance? Do you immediately consider what you do rather or don’t do rather than what you believe? Do you look at your daily life and wonder if your behavior measures up to Jesus’s expectations? Introspection is healthy, but it can undermine our assurance. If you determine your eternal standing is based upon behavior, this can be a very slippery slope. If your behavior (works) is lacking (whose isn’t at times) does that mean that you believed in vain since you are told that by your fruit you shall be known?

From the site, Got Questions is the following analysis of Matthew 7:16, “You shall know them by their fruit.”

The statement “you will know them by their fruit” (Matthew 7:16) is part of Jesus’ teaching about recognizing true followers and avoiding false prophets. Beginning with verse 15, we read this context: “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15–20).

Notice the usage of “true followers” as opposed to “false prophets”. Given the constant usage of qualifiers like “true Christian” (in contrast to a fake Christian), “real faith” (as opposed to counterfeit faith), the waters can get murky. What actually is fake faith? Is it faith without works? And what is the fruit of a bad tree? Truly, how can you know that the day you trusted Christ as Savior that you actually became a Christian?

Let’s attack this methodically and then at the end I would like to offer a brilliantly articulated article written by Dr. John W. Robbins, former president of the Trinity Foundation. He tackles what I refer to as the “Lord, Lord” passage from Matthew 7:23.


So, how does one gain assurance of their salvation? In other words, what does saving faith look like? How do you know if your ticket is punched for eternity? Is there any way to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are eternally secure? The way some well-known passages (Matthew 7:15-23; James 2:17-26) are being interpreted, call into question whether we can, in fact, be certain of our eternal destiny. How do you know if you’re on the narrow path that leads to life?

Let’s begin with the clear teachings and then tackle the less clear passage as we search for assurance.

By Grace Through Faith in Christ

The Apostle Paul made clear in numerous passages that it is only by faith in the sacrificial death of Christ, that salvation has been made available. By grace alone (sola gratia) through faith alone (sola fide) in Christ alone (solo Christo). These 3 of the 5 solas emerged from the reformation in direct contradiction to doctrinal positions of the Roman Catholic Church (RCC).

Rome was teaching that although grace, faith and Christ were essential components of salvation, in and of themselves they could neither secure nor guarantee one’s eternal life. The RCC taught and still teaches that only through additional acts of piety and righteous works, all while abstaining from blatant sins, will one be allowed entrance into Heaven. So, in the end, to the RCC, it is faith plus works that save us.

As has been well established, the reformers rejected the RCC’s position on salvation. They agreed with the teachings of the Apostle Paul who argued that it is neither “work” nor “faith plus works” that pass us from death into life… but rather ONLY through belief. Just as it was with Abraham, faith is accredited to us as righteousness. Salvation is a gift and no amount of meritorious works can improve upon that gift lest it no longer remain a gift. As a sidebar, it seems that salvation being a “gift” can be forgotten as we work through assurance of our salvation.

Consider the below extortion from the apostle.

(Romans 4:3-5)
3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham BELIEVED God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who DOES NOT WORK but BELIEVES in him who justifies the ungodly, his FAITH is counted as righteousness…

So, it is not the one who works but the one who believes who is justified.

Jeremiah lamented that the heart of man was deceitful and desperately wicked and Isaiah confessed that he was a man of unclean lips. He further contended that all of our works are


but filthy rags before a holy God. (Isa 64:6; Jer 17:9; Isa 6:5) We are not “mostly dead” in our trespasses and sins but we are “all dead”, apart from Christ. So Paul teaches us that it is ONLY by faith that we are saved lest any of us be able to boast. None of our  accomplishments can add one scintilla to the grace of God and no lack thereof can subtract an iota from His mercy. This is reiterated in Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians.

Ephesians 2:8-9
8 For by grace you have been saved THROUGH FAITH. And this is not your own doing; IT IS A GIFT of God, 9 NOT A RESULT OF WORKS, so that no one may boast.

In addition, the Apostle Paul dealt very harshly with the Galatian Christians who were fervently attempting to perfect the grace of God by strict adherence to the law. Their crime was not the fact that they were living lives of wanton sin, but rather that they were attempting to return to law keeping to justify themselves before Christ.

Galatians 3:1-9
1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? 2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? 4 Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?

5 Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” 7 Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.

Was obedience to the truth referring to acts of piety? No, obeying the truth was an act of faith not of works. A look at the prior chapter makes this abundantly clear.

Galatian 3:16
knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.

And, given Jesus’s constant rebuke of the Pharisees, was it their lack of behavioral fruit or their unbelief which condemned them? They prided themselves in the law keeping of every jot and tittle but they rejected the grace of God through faith in the Messiah. It’s most common to determine that the bad fruit to which Jesus often referred regarded bad behavior. This will be more thoroughly addressed in the Robbin’s article.

Faith Plus Works?

At this point all seems crystal clear until we run headlong into both James’s epistle and some of Jesus’s most difficult teachings. Since many pastors and teachers today assert that hoards of Christ professors are not actually Christians, we have a conundrum. How do faith and works fit into the salvation process? Many Christians are considered by some as mere pretenders. It is argued that belief in Christ (mental assent) is simply not enough, since the behavior of many professing Christians does not seem to line up with approved standards of Christian conduct. And, given the untoward lifestyles of many who have named the name of Christ, who can blame this assessment?

In an attempt to explain and describe this apparent disconnect between faith and holy living, we add an endless stream of qualifiers: “Real faith”, “actual faith”, “real Christian, “true Christian”… But, at this point it seems prudent to determine whether these modifiers are biblically approved and if so, are they used anywhere in the NT? In addition, is a “false prophet” (whose antithesis is a “true prophet”) considered so because of bad behavior or a rancid faith?

For example, did the Apostle Paul ever refer to the Christians in Corinth (which was an extremely wayward and carnal church with many members engaged in rather horrid acts) with the above modifiers? Did he ever call anyone who put their faith in Christ a “so-called Christian”, or did he ever use any such modifier which questioned their eternal position?

Oh, I think it’s clear that there were false Christians among them but the question is, what was it that disqualified them… their unbelief or perhaps their carnal deeds? I think this is a vitally important question to answer.

(1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.” 

Are you unrighteous? I sure am and so was Isaiah, Paul and everyone who has ever walked this earth, save Jesus. So, we are ALL excluded from Christ’s Kingdom based upon behavior. But does the story end here? Clearly not! As long as we are relying on our own ability to keep the law we will forever be excluded from the Kingdom of Heaven.

At this point, let’s revisit the reason these qualifiers are so often added. There are many who, for a brief time time or even for a season, have professed Christ as savior but who do not continue to live according to the precepts found in Scripture. This is undeniable. There are examples galore. Some in my own family. Excuse my presumptuousness, but all of us to one degree or the other are guilty of this disconnect.

So, in order to clarify whether someone is a Christian (since our old nature is with us until we die), we, quite naturally and sometimes pharisaically become fruit inspectors. If we don’t see right behavior (attitudes and actions which are in accord with Christ-approved conduct), we assume that there was never actually “genuine belief”. Again, we use a modifier of belief, insisting that their rancid fruit could not have have come from a tree subsisting on the waters of life. Therefore, for the one who professes with their mouth and believes in their heart, according to some, that may not be enough… because it is assumed that it wasn’t “true faith” or “saving faith” if it is unaccompanied by expected righteous works. Modifiers abound in our modern vernacular and we therefore often use terms like “true Christian” to describe someone who appears to be walking with Christ. As I hope you are beginning to see, this is a very slippery slope because faith in Christ is quantified, measured and often found wanting.

Once behavior becomes the deciding factor (in terms of assurance), how can anyone be certain that they have permanently passed from death to life? If simple belief in Christ’s shed blood is not enough, our certainly that we ARE saved naturally wavers. So, again, we need to ask the question how we can ever develop an uninterrupted assurance of salvation as we pass through the dry times of life? When illness comes, relationships break, we succumb to sinful patterns, and the storms of life rock our worlds… all causing faith stresses… if we can’t rely on a once-for-all time faith in Christ to anchor us, to secure our foundation, where shall we gain our strength in such uncertain and sometimes turbulent times?

In my earliest days as a Christian, I was exhorted to write in my Bible the day and the hour that I professed Christ as my savior. When I had doubts about my conversion, which most certainly can and did creep in, I was encouraged to look back to that glorious day and know that my eternal state was indeed secure. But was it? Could that have been a faith build on a foundation of sand? Could I have believed without it taking root?

Is this fool’s gold pursuing the holy grail of assurance? What happens when the fruit of our lives doesn’t measure up to the scriptural standards of holiness? Is belief truly enough? I have heard said literally hundreds of times that even the demons believe (James 2). The implication? If malevolent creatures believe and they are destined for the Lake of Fire, belief appears not to be inadequate for a sinner such as I. So, it is, therefore, assumed that simple, childlike faith may not be enough to move the needle. When considering our eternal standing, instead of pointing to the day we placed our trust in Jesus’s shed blood, we are forced inward to examine our accomplishments for Christ as we check for the manifestation of “good fruit”. Is this healthy? Is this biblical?

We use, what I believe are often misunderstood passages, to determine that if faith is not accompanied by commensurate works (many have different qualifying standards – Baptist’s have traditionally used smoking, drinking and dancing as disqualifying behaviors LoL), that we are not “genuinely saved.” This belief without expected works is often referred to as “easy believism”, which is yet another qualifier… in this case rather pejorative to the act of faith and it’s transformative power.  The implication is that it’s simply not enough to believe… it’s just too easy to mentally assent to a proposition and, therefore, it is often determined that it can’t be genuine unless we do _________… and don’t do __________. Fill in the blanks.

Consider the following passage which appears at first glance (or possibly after hundreds of glances and even in-depth studies) to support this notion. (Read the passage from James 2 below first and then read the rest of this paragraph) What does James mean when he writes that we must show our faith through our works? He insists, or so it appears, that “true faith” MUST be accompanied by works. Is he contradicting Paul who stated plainly that it is not the one who works but the one who believes who has entered the community of Christians? *I’m reminded that Luther referred to James’s epistle as a book of straw. He was keenly aware of the apparent tension between the statements of James and Paul.

James 2:18-23
18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God.

In dealing with what appears on the surface as a scriptural conflict, we must begin with the necessary premise that there are no contradictions in Scripture. Employing “the analogy of faith” we must interpret Scripture with Scripture. The less clear through the clear. All passages must be synchronized and homogenized and they cannot be contradictory.

I have had devout Catholic friends who contend that James refutes Paul or at the very least that Paul’s teaching is incomplete or not totally adequate. They believe that faith is COMPLETED by works. So, since other requirements are added to faith, the burden of syncretizing James and Paul seems insurmountable, at least in so far as saving faith is concerned. That’s why Catholics aren’t certain until they die whether their earthly contributions heaped on top of their faith were enough to push them over the edge into Heaven. While on this earth they literally have no idea if, after their death, they will have to remain in Purgatory for a prolonged period to further atone for their sin… or if they did enough in the here and now to pass purgatory and go straight into Heaven. I find that incredibly sad, but given the way many protestants deal with James 2 and Matthew 7, many of own appear to be riding in the sinking boat.

With James 2 in our rearview mirror, let’s read the rather haunting words of Jesus as they send shockwaves throughout our souls. I can’t find a more horrifying passage, given the way I used to understand Jesus’s stern warning.

Matthew 7:21-23
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who DOES THE WILL of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Does this passage frighten you? Jesus is saying rather emphatically that not all of those who say “Lord, Lord” and do all of those amazing deeds in His name are certain of their eternal destiny. As a matter of fact, some who think they have their ticket punched are apparently destined for the eternal wrath of God… deceiving themselves into believing they are God’s elect. So, again, how can we know if we’re not in the “depart from Me” group?

Apparent Contradictions?

Are Jesus and James teaching that those who merely believe in Jesus may not be worthy of His Kingdom? Are they warning that the narrow road is regarding behavior not belief? Is belief not enough? If not, then what kind of behavior is necessary? If anyone uses profanity are they excluded? If anyone goes for a season without daily Bible reading are they going to be cast into the pit of Hell because it proves that their faith wasn’t genuine? Clearly, if they prophecy, cast out demons and do mighty works, they may be excluded. What hope them do we have? If they lie on a tax return or think evil of their neighbor, will they be forever cast out of the God’s presence?

In other words, what is enough? How will we ever know what constitutes “true faith” i.e. “saving “faith?” Who is a “true Christian?” If our works cannot diverge from our faith lest we be disqualified, then who can be saved? Is it possible to KNOW beyond a shadow of doubt that we are a children of the King? If so, where does that assurance come from?

With this as a backdrop, please consider reading the following paper written by John Robbins. There I think you will find answers to the more difficult questions I’ve raised. I read it many years ago and found his conclusions heartening and compelling. He deals with these gray areas of apparent contradiction in a way that few have.

In closing, let me say that if we continue to believe that there’s no way to know if we are the ones who Jesus will ultimately cast out, and if we attempt to “prove” our worthiness by our works and/or lack of sin, that treadmill may be your undoing. Walking the faith/works tightrope is not for the faint of heart. In my view, and I certainly don’t mean to be harsh, those who pigeonhole the meager works of those who aren’t as pious or devout as they are, may be deceived by their own pride. I’m truly sorry if that’s offensive. It’s not meant to be but I think it should be a warning. Are any of us truly different than the prophet Isaiah who realized that at his best, his works were but filthy rags (and I think we all know to what kind of rags to which he was referring)? The narrow road’s path is lit by the mercy and grace of God.

Lord, Lord (Matt 7.21-24) – Dr. John W. Robbins (pdf)


Credit for the above goes to Dr. John W. Robbins and David Curtis (Here and Here). I was hopelessly confused by some of these more difficult passages prior to hearing and reading their teaching.

Posted in Bible Study, Theology, Understanding Scripture | Leave a comment

Thoughts on the DEATH of ADAM – Dan Norcini SS

As bizarre as it seems, there are now a group of false teachers that have arisen within the ranks of the Preterist movement who astonishingly claim that the death that God threatened Adam and Eve with on the day that they would partake of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden was not physical death, but was ONLY spiritual death.

They make this outlandish claim based on the fact that the punishment was worded as follows:

“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.” ( Gen 2:16-17)

Their argument runs thusly:

Adam was threatened with death ‘IN THE DAY’ that you eat from the forbidden tree. Both Adam and Eve disobeyed that command but both did not die immediately, or on the same day. Therefore, it could not have been physical death with which God threatened them.

Instead God was threatening them with spiritual death.

While this is easily refuted, unfortunately those propagating this foolishness have managed to confuse some of the saints of God with their sophistry. As a consequence, we need to spend some time dealing with this nonsense so as to provide some much needed comfort and correction for those who have been taken in by these modern peddlers of error.

Let’s begin with the obvious first and then work towards some deeper theologically understanding …

The threat of death is first seen in Genesis 2 where we quoted above.

“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.” ( Gen 2:16-17)

AFTER Adam and Eve had disobeyed the clear command of God, the punishment threat was repeated with much further elaboration than was initially included in that 2nd chapter.

I am going to quote at length from Genesis 3 picking up where the Most High systematically went to each of all three beings involved in this consequential sin.

First, He starts with the Devil:

“And the Lord God said to the serpent, BECAUSE ( my emphasis) you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; On your belly shall you go, and dust shall you eat all the days of your life; and I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the feet.” (Gen 3:14-15)

Let’s point out something that should be obvious. Note the emphasis I placed on the word,

“BECAUSE”. When you read this, think CAUSE and EFFECT.

Because you did this, said the Lord to the devil, therefore this will be the effect, or this will follow as a consequence.

Notice also that the cattle, which were made on the fifth day along with the rest of the beasts of the earth, were CURSED AS A RESULT OF THE SIN OF ADAM. We do not know exactly what form that curse took but it is undeniable that a curse fell upon all the animals

AS A RESULT of that sin.

Also, as a CAUSE, this same sin of Adam and Eve, brought forth the VERY FIRST PROPHECY of the Gospel. This is the protoevangelium, the gospel in its earliest form.
This SEED of the WOMAN clearly foretold a MAN who would come to undo the work of the devil (CRUSH his head) and in the process of so doing, would have his heel bruised by this same serpent. That of course is what happened at the Cross but that is not the focal point of this particular work. Rather it is to show the connection between the sin of Adam and the curse entering into the world.

Moving on to the woman, Eve; we see the same sort of CAUSE and EFFECT. While the word, ‘Because’ is not explicitly used, it is easy to see that God told Eve because of her sin, she would now suffer pain during childbirth and would be in a position of subjection to the man.

“To the woman He said, I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth. In pain you shall bring forth children; Yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (Gen 3:16)

Lastly, but certainly not least:

“Then to Adam He said, BECAUSE you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground BECAUSE of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field; by the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, Till you return to the ground, BECAUSE from it you were taken, for you are dust and to dust you shall return.” ( Gen 3:17-19)

It is interesting to note here that now we see the GROUND CURSED on account of Adam. The animals are listed in the curse when God rebukes the devil. Here we see the soil itself will now become cursed. I should also note that returning to the now-cursed ground (dying physically), shows that the curse descended upon Adam as well. This is in all in connection with the “because you have listened to the voice of your wife”.

I marvel at the fact that there are actually some out there among the professing saints of God who unashamedly will declare to us less enlightened ones, that physical death was a normal part of being human PRIOR to the fall of Adam. They claim that Adam was destined to die regardless of his sin merely because he was human and was not immortal and that physical death was not part of the curse, only spiritual death.

The problem that those teaching this shall encounter is that it clearly denies the teaching of the inspired Apostle Paul who tells in his letter to Romans that:

“…therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned…” (Romans 5:12)

Paul, who acquired his understanding directly from the risen Christ, tells us in no uncertain terms that death was not in this world until sin entered, physical, spiritual or any other kind of death.

Death came in as a CONSEQUENCE of SIN. Think CAUSE and EFFECT –

CAUSE – the sin of Adam

EFFECT – both PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL DEATH (Separation from the gracious presence of God)

As a matter of biblical truth, God, after He created all things in six days, man being made on the sixth, rested and declared all that He had made VERY GOOD (Gen 2:31). Tell me, if Adam was destined to die physically anyway, because he was human, why would God declare His creation GOOD, if it included death in it?

We are told clearly by Paul, that death is an enemy:

“The last enemy that will be abolished is death” (1 Cor 15:26)

So what we have now is the bizarre notion that God declared death as VERY GOOD seeing that it was necessarily part of the human condition according to these peddlers of novelty. According to them, God declared that death, something that He Himself calls “an enemy”, was not just good but VERY GOOD. Try wrapping your mind around this perverse declaration!

Strange that something He would eventually conquer and abolish in Christ is declared to be a good part of His original creation is it not?

Paul also tells us in the next chapter of that same letter, that sin merits death.

“…for the wages of sin Is death..” (Romans 6:23)

Think through this carefully… what is a wage? A wage is something that is OWED to an individual. It is not a gift. If I make an agreement to provide my services to an employer for $20/hour, at the end of that pay period when he comes to settle accounts with me, he OWES me $20/hour. I do not thank him for the gift of my salary, do I? Certainly not!
I have entered into a sort of contract with him which says that I agree to exchange my particular set of skills/talents for money. My skills help his business thrive and prosper and in exchange for that, he returns me a portion of the profits in the form of money. My employer has contracted a debt that is owed to me. How do you think an employee would react after being informed that his employer has decided not to pay him for his week’s worth of work?

Thus the WAGES of SIN become a matter of JUSTICE. God Himself declared the JUST punishment for sin and that punishment is DEATH.

God did not OWE man this punishment until man sinned. Once he sinned, then the payment of this debt becomes a matter of justice. How do we know this? Because the apostle Paul told us it is a debt! That’s how!

This is important because of what further transpires in the Garden down towards the end of chapter 3 in the Genesis account:

“…then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he stretch our his hand, and take also from the tee of life and eat, and live forever’ – therefore the Lord God sent him out from the Garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim, and the flaming sword which turned every direction, to guard the way to the tree of life.” ( Gen 3:22-24)

Before we look at this verse in more detail, consider the following:

If I were to forcibly withhold food and water from my child, I could be arrested and charged with either manslaughter or a certain degree of murder. While I may not not directly take their life, I withhold the conditions/requirements necessary to sustain that life and therefore would be found by any jury as guilty of a form of murder (death).

Since God expelled Adam and Eve out of the Garden, wherein was located the Tree of Life – the sustenance that they would require in order to continue in a state of life – He effectively sentenced them to physical death in so doing. That was the WAGE of SIN being paid directly by the man and the woman. That was the Divine judgment being meted out.

There is simply no other REASONABLE manner of understanding this.

Being banished from the Garden was a consequence of this sin, of this there can be no dispute. How then could anyone with an honest mind tell us that physical death is the natural condition of being human? It might be “natural” now since the fall, but it certainly was not “natural” prior to their banishment from the Garden and their exclusion from the Tree of Life.

What was natural for the man back then during his innocence, was to abide in a state of obedience to the commands of God and have continued access to the Tree of Life. Death did not exist and could not have existed prior to his sin or else we are left with the logical conclusion that DEATH ENTERED PRIOR TO SIN which is a complete and utter contradiction of the doctrine laid down by the apostle Paul.

Both Adam and Eve immediately fell into a different state of relation towards God after their sin – now they were sinners and separated from the life of God (Eph 4:18) – that is spiritual death in the sense that the apostle Paul uses the word in Eph 2 ( …and you were dead in your transgressions and sins… verse 1) However, God then furthermore DROVE OUT both of them from the Garden depriving them from access to the tree of life. At that point, they became mortal and were destined to die. Prior to that both were in a condition perhaps best described as, “conditional immortality”. As long as they abode in the favor of God, both had access to the tree of life and would continue to live.

To make clear – the idea that Adam was destined to die physically not because of sin but rather because he was human is repugnant to the teaching of Scripture, not to mention the two thousand years of church history where this novel idea is nowhere to be found.

A side note here – one thing I have observed about some of these teachers that have infected the Preterist movement is that they are strangely reminiscent of the ancient Athenians.

“Now all the Athenians and the strangers visited there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new.” (Acts 17:21)

The more novel the teaching that some of these men concoct in their fevered minds, the more they seem to feed upon it themselves and the more their poor victims revere their “great depth of insight” into the things of God.

We might say of them what the risen Christ said to the faithful in the church at Thyatira about the false teachers in their midst:

“But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them…” (Rev 2:24)

Those misleading the church at Thyatira boasted that they alone had a secret, esoteric understanding of the deep things of God, unknown to most. The truth, according to their risen Lord, was these things were the products of men’s minds and were in actuality, the deep things of Satan!

If men will play loose and fast with the Scriptures allegorizing away the plain meanings of words as they have been commonly understood for two millennium, then it is not hard to understand why the Lord will judicially smite them with spiritual blindness for handling His word so deceitfully.

Elaborating further upon this punishment for Adam’s sin.

Let’s go back and examine that passage in the 5th chapter of Romans in more detail wherein the apostle Paul tells us where death came from ( and he is not speaking of merely spiritual death as the context clearly indicates)

“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, AND DEATH THROUGH SIN, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned…” (Romans 5:12)

Some may of course arrogantly take it upon themselves to redefine the meaning of the word “death” in this passage and strip it of any physical meaning but that does violence to the entirety of Paul’s following arguments where he is arguing about the reason even infants die.

“…Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam…” (Romans 5:14).

The only ones “who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam” are infants. Paul is explaining the doctrine of original sin here, a bedrock foundation of the Church; namely that Adam was acting not only as an individual but as a Federal Head. Whatever he did would be imputed to his seed. His disobedience was thus imputed /accounted /credited /charged to all men meaning all human beings are born guilty of the sin of Adam, before they ever do anything wrong themselves.

Why else would infants die seeing that the wages of sin is death. What sin could any infant commit that would bring down this punishment upon their head? Answer – there is no actual sin of their own but rather the guilt of Adam’s sin.

“…so then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men… for as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners…” ( Romans 5:18-19)

By the way, this is the reason that our Lord Jesus had to be fathered by the power of Holy Spirit and could not have been born of a man. Had he been born of a man, the sin of Adam would have been charged to him as well since the guilt of the offense of Adam is transmitted by the man as well as the defilement of our nature( the old man, the flesh).

The force of Paul’s argument is gutted if these peddlers of falsehood get away with their redefining of the clear meaning of words.

Question to Paul:

Why is death in the world and where did it come from?

Answer – from the sin of one man, Adam. He sinned and death entered on account of his sin.

Question to Paul:

“Okay, if death is the result of sin, why is it that infants die? What sins could they possibly be guilty of. They have no knowledge of good or evil?”

Answer – they are guilty of the sin of Adam.

Question to Paul: “But that does not seem fair?”

Answer – if it is not “fair” as you say, then the method of God employed in the salvation of sinners is not fair either. God, in His wisdom, chose to have one man act on the behalf of many (Federal Headship). What better representative could the human race have had? Adam was fresh from the hand of God, had his own innate righteousness, knew neither good or evil and had no fallen nature from which temptation arises.

If you still think this is unfair, consider, would have said Paul, that if Adam could not have represented a group of people, then neither could have Christ Jesus represented a group of people. If you did not have Him representing you, then you would have had no hope whatsoever, because you were without strength/helpless (verse 6) and were his active enemies (verses 10).

The focus in on this doctrine a bit more closely – the death Paul is speaking of in these verses is PHYSICAL DEATH, because that only and not spiritual death, is something that any human being can observe with his or her own eyes. Paul is explaining something that is OBVIOUS to all men, namely, that infants die, and he is providing an explanation for why this tragic fact exists.

To wrest these passages by twisting the meaning of death here to be only spiritual death, is to make Paul’s arguments seem like those of an imbecile.

Tell me, which human beings have the power to look at “those who did not sin in the likeness of the offense of Adam” and know as something evident/obvious to all casual observers of human existence that they are spiritually dead? Answer – no one! The only reason any of us even know this truth about spiritual death is because we have been informed of it by the gospel. It is not something that can be seen by the human eye. In this sense we can say, “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to us but our Father in heaven has”, through His Word! This is the reason we run to Christ to close with Him so that we may have life and that more abundantly.

Passing to the deception that the only death threatened to Adam in the Garden was a spiritual death, consider the following:

Imagine God attempting to explain the sense of guilt and fear and the sense of shame and defilement that arise on account of sin prior to Adam and Eve sinning. After all, those are the consequences of “spiritual death”. How would that be communicated?

One can readily understand the concept of the cessation of physical life being communicated to them by the Lord as the threatened punishment for disobedience. Why even a dog can grasp that!

Any casual observer of dogs or any other mammal or bird or sentient life knows that all have an innate instinct for self-preservation. That had to be created in man, as well as in all life, seeing that without it mammals, etc, would be plunging themselves to ruin by exposing themselves to harm and pain, etc. That is something easily understood of all sentient life. However, when we deal with guilt and shame, those are unknown to other animals or birds or whatever. A dog knows when it has done wrong because it has been conditioned by its master that certain actions bring pain or displeasure of the owner but can anyone say that a dog that has done wrong has a sense of shame and defilement? I think not. It does understand cause and effect – this action brings this punishment or infliction of pain and thus a fear arises in the animal, but that is the not same thing as the guilt that the conscience produces.

I am waxing philosophical here but I have a reason….

What I am hitting at is that the punishment due to sin, which we all agree does include spiritual death, was, in addition to physical death, an awakened conscience and the necessary connection between that and guilt/fear and the sense of shame and defilement that arose on account of sin. Those must be felt to be understood and were not something that was originally in man fresh from the hand of his Creator any more than they are in the lesser mammals. That instinct to preserve their own life however must have been there otherwise the threat of God would seem like foolishness to Adam when God first warned he and Eve about the forbidden fruit.

They would therefore understand the death threat to be a cessation of their own physical life but would have no inkling whatsoever what “spiritual death”, would have meant.
That is the reason I prefer to define what is meant by the use of the term “spiritual death”. Some of these men peddling this falsehood toss the term about but one has to wonder if they have the faintest notion of the nature of spiritual death.

“But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear” (Isaiah 59:2)

Yes, it is separation from God but it is more than that. What does it mean? It consists of those things I mentioned above plus some.

Specifically, the separation from the GRACIOUS presence of God. Those in hell are technically not separated from God. They are tormented in the presence of the Lamb and of God.

“…and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb…” (Rev 14:10)

That presence that the wicked experience is the PRESENCE OF HIS WRATH AND JUSTICE being meted out to them as punishment for breaking His laws.
Also, in that same Presence, is the fully awakened conscience with its never-ending recriminations against the man and the continuous accusations it will bring against him forever.

This is “the worm that dies not.”

Then there is the sense of nakedness, of being open to the eyes of Him from which no one can hide and the sense of inward defilement and corruption. Isaiah experienced this sense of defilement when he recounts the magnificent vision he experienced in the 6th chapter of the book that bears his name.

His reaction after encountering an All-seeing, perfectly Pure and Holy Being?

“Woe is me for I am undone. I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of an unclean people!” (Isaiah 6:5)

Again, how would God have communicated this sense of inner defilement to Adam in his innocence and original righteousness, whose nature was not in the least bit defiled prior to his sin, if the only death threatened to Adam was spiritual death as these deceivers assert?
In one sense all men experience this during conversion/regeneration although to a lesser degree. The awakened sinner senses his or her’s own defilement and utter nakedness before the eyes of a holy God and realizes they have need of being washed, cleansed, purified. He or she also has their eyes opened to see their precarious position, exposed to the wrath of God on account of their sins. This godly repentance is salutary for the child of God because it makes him or her reach out for the precious remedy provided in the Gospel.

But, the wicked, who die in an unconverted state, will experience these same things in a much fuller and terrible sense EXCEPT THERE WILL BE NO REMEDY.

The words of Newton are good here: “’Twas grace that taught my heart to FEAR, and grace my fears relieved”.

What is fear but the reaction of the conscience to the sense of guilt brought about in the sinner through the preaching of the gospel which brings the man face to face with God’s righteousness and stern, inflexible justice?

Consider the radical change in the behavior of Adam towards God AFTER he sinned. He went and hid himself from the presence of God. When confronted by God,

“…I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” (Gen 3:10)

FEAR is now felt and experienced for the first time by the man. Prior to that, Adam walked in sweet fellowship with his Creator. Now, suddenly he is afraid of that same presence with the sense of his own nakedness filling him with shame.

Spiritual death then puts a man in a state in which when one realized, consists of the sense of guilt with its consequent fear, and defilement with its consequent sense of shame that all men are liable to as a result of the sin of Adam. It is also having the mind or understanding darkened and made hostile to God, of being made blinded and unable to see the light of the glory of Christ, of being deaf and unable to hear His voice speaking through nature, and in the Word without the aid of the Holy Spirit, of being utterly bankrupted before God as to having any strength, any ability, any hope of saving one’s self from this predicament were it not for grace.

How would God have explained this to Adam and Eve who came forth bearing in themselves a perfect righteousness only to have squandered it all away? Personally, I do not think God even attempted to explain this aspect of death which in my mind reinforces the idea that they both understood the threatened death as being physical in nature.
We can also see from Scripture that Adam and Eve knew EXACTLY what guilt, fear, shame and defilement were AFTER THEY SINNED. That was PART OF THE PUNISHMENT for sin!

Another thing – It seems that these modern Gnostics spreading their idea of the death promised to Adam in the Garden as being only spiritual death and not physical death, are hung up on the phrase, “in that day”. They argue that because Adam did not die physically on the

very same day in which he sinned, that therefore God could not have been threatening his new creature with physical death but ONLY WITH spiritual death.

We have already dismissed this notion for the foolishness that it is, but lest it be said that we did not address the “in the day” part of the text, allow us a bit of liberty to deal with that.

Consider the fact that after both Adam and Eve sinned, we read the following:

“And the Lord made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.” (Gen 3: 21)

Further to this point, let us consider the second son of Adam, Abel by name. We know what happened to him – he was murdered by his wicked brother Cain. Yet we read something about Abel in Hebrews 11.

“By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.” (Heb 11:4)

Paul makes it clear in this passage that Abel offered his sacrifice in faith, whereas we know from Scripture that the “faith” in which Cain offered his offering of fruits of the ground, was not the same as the faith of his brother. The question is, how did Abel know to offer a blood sacrifice? From where did he gain this knowledge?

The answer comes from Paul indirectly:

“Now faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word concerning Christ.” (Romans 10: 17).

In other words, one MUST HEAR the gospel, the word concerning Christ, in order to obtain saving faith. And where did Abel hear this word concerning Christ and from whom did he hear it? It is obvious that it was from his parents, Adam and Eve. Remember, both of them were present at the first proclamation of the gospel in the form of the protoevangelium.

Where did Adam and Even get this knowledge? From God of course as there was no one else that they could have gotten it from since those two were the parents of the entire human race! Thus, Adam and Eve preached the gospel of the Seed of the woman to their son Abel.

That gospel taught to Abel by Adam contained the principle that would come down all the way through the law of Moses and into the days of the New covenant, namely,

“without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin” (Hebrews 9: 22)

Since God is the Lawgiver, only He has the right to define the penalty to breaches of His laws or commandments. That penalty is very clearly stated in Scripture in both Testaments and it is death. The justice of God requires the death of the transgressor as satisfaction for His violated laws.

Blood must be shed because the life of the sinner is forfeit to the exacting Justice of God. Why the blood? The answer comes from Leviticus:

“…for the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.” (Lev 17:11)

The blood represented the life of the one slain. When it was shed, one life was substituted for another.

Abel understood this and thus offered an animal as a substitute to take his place and bear the penalty for his sins. Only in that manner could his person be accepted by God, since He, being perfectly Just, cannot pardon a sinner and accept his person unless His justice is also satisfied.

But that raises the question, “where did the idea of a substitutionary sacrifice originate?”. Why, in the death of the animals whose skins that God Himself provided to cover the nakedness of both Adam and Eve!

“And the Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.” (Gen 3:21)

There in the Garden, at the very beginning of the fallen condition of the man and his wife, the Lord God introduced the merciful principle of a SUBSTITUTE which would take the place of the one who had sinned and would die in his place. This substitute would die to satisfy the righteous requirement of the Creator’s broken law and in so doing, allow God to show mercy to the one whose place it had taken.

What marvelous grace is on display in the earliest story contained in the Bible!
This is exactly what the apostle Paul tells us of the sacrifice of the One True Substitute, that His death would allow God to be both “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:26)

Mercy and truth would meet together, and Righteousness and peace would kiss each other! (Psalm 85:10)

What transpired in that Garden, all of it contained within the single verse (Gen 3:21), is that the animals whose skins provided a covering for Adam and Eve were SLAIN TO TAKE THE PLACE OF THEM BOTH! The death sentence which was to fall, “in that day”, was executed on those animals, “in that day”. It was their blood, and not the man and woman’s, which was spilt in order to satisfy the justice of God. That sacrifice allowed Adam and Eve to go on living even though the damage had been done, their natures corrupted and their access to the tree of life cut off.

Incidentally, we would be remiss if we did not state the obvious –if the death sentence threatened by God to Adam was not one of a physical death as these deceivers incredulously assert, then why was the blood of those animals shed? Those animals died physically – they did not die spiritually. How could they? Did their consciences suddenly become defiled? Did these animals undergo some sort of defilement to their nature? What kind of foolish thinking is that? No, those animals died physically to teach Adam that the death sentence for his sin was one that was not only spiritual, but physical.

Remember what we just read in the book of Leviticus. The life of the flesh is in the blood. The shed blood of those animals represented their shed lives, in place of the lives of both Adam and Eve. A life for a life!

To sum up this section – God did indeed slay Adam and Eve “in the day” that they sinned in the Garden, in the animals which were dealt the death blow and sacrificed in their stead.
Additionally, there seems to be some sort of notion circulating that God must inflict the punishment for sin the very same day any man or woman sins on the very day they commit sin. I am not sure what that originated to be honest but suffice it to say, if we think back to the subject matter in Romans 5 where the Apostle Paul tells us that death sometimes passes upon infants, what we learn is that regardless of any sins that men may or may not commit, ALL SINNED IN ADAM. God would be within the right of His divine justice to slay us all from birth!

As a matter of fact, Job says as much.

“Surely God will not act wickedly, and the Almighty will not pervert justice. Who gave Him authority over the earth? And who has laid on Him the whole world? If He should determine to do so, if He should gather to Himself His spirit and His breath, all flesh would perish together and man would return to dust.” ( Job 34:12-15)

This is that which the writer of Ecclesiastes states:

“Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are fully given to do evil.” ( Eccl 8:11)

Keep in mind that while God is a God of Justice, He is also longsuffering and merciful. It is that longsuffering of God which delays the punishment that guilty sinners deserve. Yet make no mistake about it; Vengeance is His and HE WILL REPAY. Are the wages of sin still death? Does a single sin call for the death of the sinner? Yes, it does. Yet we see men defying God daily and mocking Him to His face and yet they live. Is God asleep? Does He not see their wickedness? Indeed He does!

Men foolishly believe that the Most High is indifferent to sin but He is not. Every man will face his own day of reckoning and learn, sadly to his own false sense of security and peace, that the wages of sin are indeed death.

Paul warns of men STORING UP wrath for themselves in Romans 2. His Lord warns the stubborn and apostate Jews of His day to “go ahead and fill up the measure of the guilt of the sins of their fathers”. There is indeed an end to the forbearance of a Holy and Just God.
Thus poor sinner, fly to Christ now, while there is still time, while you may still obtain mercy and forgiveness before your time of the longsuffering of God ends. Remember, LONG-suffering is not INFINITE-suffering but long. It does reach an end.

These “New apostles”, who are nothing but false teachers, have set themselves up against the apostles of the Bible upon whose doctrine the church’s foundation was laid, and inform us that death is a consequence of “being human”, not a consequence of sin. I think I will stick with Paul and leave these deceivers to their own devices.

What is so disconcerting is the tragic fact that those who would actually assent to this as being remotely true, completely miss the point of the purpose of death as it involves the child of God.

As Joseph said to his brethren when he revealed himself to them, “Go and tell my father of my splendor in Egypt”. (Gen 45:13)

So does our Lord long to show us His glory!

“Father I desire that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with me, where I am, in order that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me…”(John 17:24)

“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places, if it were not so I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” ( John 14: 2-3)

What a beautiful expression of the love of our Lord Jesus for His precious bride! It is that glory which we are privileged to behold even now but will behold in its fulness when our eyes close in death. May this hope, a living hope, work within us to produce a desire for holiness and warm our hearts with fervent love for our glorious Savior.

But think for a moment, How pray tell is the child of God ever to BE WITH JESUS WHERE HE IS, how is he to BEHOLD HIS GLORY, if he never dies physically? Answer that one? Of course he or she must die but now, because of the work of our Mighty Savior, DEATH HAS LOST ITS STING. Instead of being the great object of fear or all men, the great debt owed for the punishment of sin, it has been transformed for the child of God into the very means whereby we take possession of our heavenly inheritance!

That inheritance, “is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away and is reserved in heaven” says the apostle Peter. (1Peter 1:4)

Alas, we dwell on the earth, separated from our inheritance, our promised land, by the veil of death. But once death comes, we pass from this life, our Egypt, and enter our heavenly Canaan, where our glorious Savior there waits to show us His glory. There and then we will marvel at that splendor which far surpasses anything our mere mortal minds can grasp in this condition.

This is what the apostle means when he states hurls that bold challenge to the once king of terrors:

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:55).

That is followed by this incredible truth: “The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law.” ( 1Cor 15:56)

A side note to really bring home the force of this wonderful truth – I am a beekeeper of over 40 years’ experience. In all that time, I have spent many hours teaching both adults and children about these marvelous and fascinating creatures. One of the things that I do when teaching them is to bring with me some male honeybees or drones. I take these out and ask them if any are willing to hold the drones in their hands.

Their initial reaction is always the same – there are no takers. Why is that? Because they are afraid of getting stung! However, and this is the part that deals directly with the above text of Scripture, once I inform them of the fact that male bees, drones, HAVE NO STINGERS and thus CANNOT HARM THEM, they all change their attitude immediately. Now, they clamor to hold the insect and listen to its buzzing sound and feel it tickle their hands!

See what a profound difference the knowledge of a simple fact can make once it is understood? The once feared insect now becomes the object of delight and fascination.
This is what Paul is telling us. DEATH HAS NO STING! It is now, on account of the glorious work and the might triumph of Christ over sin, over death, over Satan, over the grace, over the world, OVER ALL, HARMLESS to the child of God. We need not fear it any longer because its sting has been removed. To use a theological term, it is NO LONGER PENAL in any form. By that we mean to say is that is it not harmful to the child of God in any manner. Instead it has been transformed into the gateway to eternal glory! Hallelujah!
The foolish statement that comes from the mouth of our adversaries in this matter: “ Why do Christians still die physically if the death that Christ died was physical and He died that death in their place?” betrays a complete ignorance of what has happened to the very nature of death in regards to the child of God as a result of the work of Christ on that bloody cross. It is no longer PENAL in any way. Period! How could that which ushers the child of God into the presence of their Lord be considered as penal?

How do you think the early Christians could go to their graves singing, in spite of the horrors about to be inflicted upon them? They looked through the eye of faith and saw the entrance being opened for them into their promised inheritance wherein their glorious Lord was waiting to receive them.

This is the same truth that our Lord Jesus taught His disciples during the days of His flesh.
Dealing with the events surrounding the resurrection of Lazarus from the grave. Jesus is speaking with Martha, one of the two sisters of Lazarus.

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die…’” (John 11:25-26)

There are what appears to be contradictions in this statement but once it is understood in the light of what we have been discussing, any apparent contradictions vanish into the ether.

The first death that Jesus speaks of is without question physical death. His statement here is what Christians of all generations have drawn strength from during times of distress and intense persecution as well as during peaceful passings.

“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil 1:21) says the apostle Paul.

Why is this? Because as we have stated, death is now the means by which the child of God enters that heavenly inheritance and leaves the sorrows, sadness and trials of this world behind. They “live” forever with Christ even thou they die physically.

Let’s flip the order of this verse around, respectfully I might add, to help us better understand it.

“He that lives and believes in Me shall never die. He who believes in Me shall live even if he dies”.

Here Jesus tells us that those who believe in Him shall never die. Yet He clearly says that those who believe in Him will live even if they die. How can they die and yet never die???

The carnal minded individual scoffs at this and ridicules it. The child of God, who has been taught of God, understands that there are TWO KINDS of DEATH here mentioned.

What Jesus is saying is that while those who believe in Him will die physically, they will not die separated from the gracious presence of God and spend eternity in hell. The first death mentioned in the actual verse is physical death. The second death mentioned is eternal death in hell.

“Over these the second death has no power.” (Rev 20:6)

“They shall not be hurt by the second death”. (Rev 2:11)

To die physically is to live forever for those who believe in Jesus! That is the same thing as death having its sting removed. It no longer needs to be feared. The “king of terrors” as the Scriptures refer to death, becomes a pipsqueak with much bark but no bite! What unspeakable comfort is contained in these verses for the man or woman of faith!

To sum up – those who would teach that the death that Adam was threatened with in the Garden was only spiritual death understand nothing of which they speak. The consequence of this wretched new doctrine of theirs leads to the inescapable conclusion that the physical death of Christ meant nothing! It was only a “sign”. The precious blood of the Spotless Lamb of God, was shed uselessly other than as some sort of symbol – that is exactly what these disciples of the devil are saying!

Strange then that the apostle Peter would say of it:

“…knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with PRECIOUS BLOOD, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the BLOOD OF CHRIST.” (1Peter1: 18-19)

I read nothing of this PRECIOUS BLOOD being any sort of “sign” as is being claimed by these uninspired dreamers. Instead I see it referred to by the inspired apostle as the REDEMPTION PRICE paid to discharge the debt owed by the people of God.

Also, look at how the apostle Paul treat the precious blood of Christ:

“But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, , having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your consciences from dead works to serve the living God?” ( Hebrews 8:11-14).

“Since therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus…” (Heb 10:19)

Notice carefully how Paul uses both phrases, “the blood of Christ” in the 8th chapter but here in chapter 10, he employs the expression, “the blood of Jesus”. Christ is the name of the Messiah while Jesus is the name of the MAN, Jesus of Nazareth.

Lest some might come away with the misguided idea that the blood of Christ which atones for sin is purely spiritual in nature, Paul uses the name of the man, Jesus, to denote that this blood which atones for sin is also the physical blood of a human being.

The blood of a man, a kinsman redeemer, was shed in death, all of it to the point that there was nothing left of it in his broken body upon that cross but water (John 19:34), to pay the debt of His poor relations, who had a debt that they could not pay to the justice of God. It was no mere sign!

“What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Oh, precious is the flow,
That makes me white as snow
No other fount I know
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!

These deceivers have misled far too many of the Lord’s precious sheep with their novel theories and twisting of the clear meanings of words. If you are one that has been caught in the snare laid by them, make haste and do not delay to reject their teachings and return to the orthodox teaching concerning the death of Adam that has governed the church for two millennia.

“Thus says the Lord, ‘Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is and walk in it; and you shall find rest for your souls…” (Jer 6:16)

Don’t become like the people in the rest of this verse:

“But they said, ‘We will not walk in it’” (Jer 6:16)


As an addendum, you might also consider Ed Stephen’s “Death of Adam Physical, Spiritual, or Both

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The Throne of David

A Short Discourse – Dan Norcini SS

In the second book of Samuel, the seventh chapter, a promise of God to David is recorded. The key part of that promise is as follows:

“When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever…and your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever” (2 Sam 7:12-13,16)

Two times in this marvelous promise to David is a pledge from God contained to “establish the throne of David forever.”

It is this throne I wish to dwell on in this paper.

To begin, let us start with what the throne was back in the day in which God made this promise to David.

As you recall, Israel had angered the Most High when they clamored after an earthly king like the rest of the nations around them. Prior to that epochal period, God Himself was the King of Israel and ruled in the midst of the people from within the Holy of Holies, the tent that was located at the exact center of the camp surrounded by all the tribes.

Within that Holy of Holies was the ark of the covenant, with its two cherubim overlooking the lid upon that holy vessel, also known as the mercy seat. There, the shekinah glory shone forth, although it was hidden from the sight of all but Moses, and Aaron, once a year on the Day of Atonement. It was from this place that the Lord ruled over the nation of Israel and it was here that was considered the place of His royal throne.

“Now when Moses went into the tent of meeting to speak with Him, he heard the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim, so He spoke to him.” (Numbers 7:89)

“Oh, give ear, Shepherd of Israel, Thou who dost lead Joseph like a flock; Thou who art enthroned above the cherubim, shine forth!” ( Psalm 80:1)

“The Lord reigns, let the peoples tremble; He is enthroned above the cherubim, let the earth shake.” (Psalm 99:1)

Nothing of this great privilege mattered to this carnal seed of Abraham. The high honor of having the glory of the Lord in their midst with their King none other than the Creator of heaven and earth, was utterly lost on this wretched people who hankered after someone that they could see with their own eyes and would go forth to lead them to victory over all their earthly enemies.

As the Lord said to Samuel after the peoples’ murmuring for a human king:

“…Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them.” (1 Sam 8:7)

These same people then chose their king based on human standards of power and strength; they chose Saul who stood head and shoulders above his fellow countrymen. The scriptures make it quite clear how abysmal was that choice and the grief that his reign brought upon the nation.

After Saul’s disobedience in the matter of the Amalekites, God informs the prophet Samuel that He has rejected Saul, the peoples’ choice, and instead will choose a man to be king over them, a man after His own heart. Enter David.

Skipping over the trials and difficulties that young David faced at the hands of the envy-stricken Saul, who hunted him throughout the land of Israel, we watch him eventually become king in the land after the death of Saul and Jonathan.

Shortly after being anointed king by the elders of Israel, David went to Jerusalem to capture a fortress there on Mt. Zion, which was in the hands of the Jebusites. That fortress became his stronghold and is the place where most scholars believe he built his royal palace. (2 Sam 5:7, 11-12)

It is from there that David exercised his rule over the nation of Israel. Thus Zion became synonymous as the place from where the King of Israel will rule and where his throne was located. We will see this later in some of the Psalms that we will reference.

We should pause a bit here and note something of importance.

The throne of David was also known as the throne of the Lord. This is an important detail to take note of.

“… then Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord as king instead of his father David, and he prospered and all Israel obeyed him.” (1 Chron 29:23)

The reason for this nomenclature is that the king was always considered to be a sort of vice-regent for God; an earthly representative of the true King of the nation, namely Jehovah. While a man occupied that earthly throne, it was understood that he was to be guided in his all decisions and policies by the law of God.

This was commanded of the king by the law of Moses.

“When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, and you possess it and live in it; and you say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations who are around me.’ You shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses, one from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman… Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statutes, that his heart may not be lifted up above his countrymen and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, to the right or to the left; in order that he and his sons may continue long in his kingdom in the midst of Israel.” (Deut 17:14, 15, 18-20)

Thus, his rule was considered to be the rule of God Himself. At least that was the intention! Sadly, fallen man will always disappoint and will always revert to his innate sinful tendencies apart from the grace of God.

This now brings us to the heart of this paper and back to the text with which we opened this paper.

“When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever…and your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever” (2 Sam 7:12-13,16)

This was the promise that kept many in Israel comforted during their times of distress. This “Son of David” as he became known, would be none other than their Messiah, the One destined to lead them to greatness once again.

Time and time again, we see the people of Israel sin grievously against the Lord and incur His wrath in the form of the curses of the covenant (Deut 28) but we also see the Lord making mention of this promise as the reason why He did not utterly blot them out.

“Jehoram…walked in the way of the kings of Israel, just as the house of Ahab did (for Ahab’s daughter was his wife), and he did evil in the sight of the Lord. Yet the Lord was not willing to destroy the house of David because of the covenant which He had made with David, and since He had promised to give a lamp to him and to his sons forever.” (2 Chron 21:5-7)

“Thus says the Lord, ‘Go down to the house of the king of Judah, and there speak this word and say, ‘Hear the word of the Lord, O king of Judah, who sits on David’s throne, you and your servants and your people who enter these gates. Thus says the Lord, ‘Do justice and righteousness… For if you will indeed perform these this thing, then kings will enter the gates of this house, sitting in David’s place on his throne, riding in chariots and on horses, even the king himself, and his servants and his people. But if you will not obey these words, I swear by Myself, declares the Lord, that this house will become a desolation.” (Jer 22: 1-5)

Notice carefully the last verse in this quotation. A condition was attached to the continuation of this covenant with David. Eventually, the EARTHLY THRONE of David fell vacant on account of the disobedience of the descendants of David who sat on that throne. After the destruction of the temple by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar and the subsequent exile of the nation into captivity for 70 years, the line of kings descending from David was no more.

Some might want to say that Nehemiah or even Zerubbabel were continuations of the promise made to David but that is not the case. Nehemiah was merely the provincial governor of Judah under the Persian monarchs, not their king. Also, we have no conclusive link to David anywhere in his genealogy.

Zerubbabel on the other hand is a descendant of David (1 Chron 3:19) but we have no evidence that he was regarded as a king over Israel after the captivity. True, there are passages in both Haggai (2) and Zechariah (4) which specifically make mention of Zerubbabel but there is nothing contained in those passages which we can point to as stating categorically that he inherited the throne of his father David or was actually viewed as anything other than the governor of that province of the then-Persian empire.

After the death of the Greek, Alexander the Great, who conquered the Persian empire, the land of Israel was subjected to either the rule of the Ptolemies of Egypt or the Seleucids. It was not until the revolt led by the Maccabees that the yoke of the latter was finally cast off from the land. That led to the inception of the Hasmonean dynasty but note, there is no connection here between those descendants of Mattathias and the Davidic monarchy. If anything, the office of the high priest became more important than that of any so-called king.

When the Romans under Pompey conquered the land of Palestine, the Hasmonean dynasty came to an end as Herod the Great was installed as the vassal king. Herod was not even Jewish but was instead from Idumaea, formerly known as Edom.

By the time John the Baptist comes onto the scene, there is no king of David’s lineage ruling over the nation of Israel. Thus, it would seem the promise of God to David has been invalidated, something which is seemingly not possible. The Psalmist laments this in Psalm 89.

The Psalm opens with a marvelous expression of the covenant that God made with David long ago.

“I will sing of the lovingkindness of the Lord forever; to all generations I will make known Thy faithfulness with my mouth. For I have said, ‘Lovingkindness will be built up forever, in the heavens Thou wilt establish Thy faithfulness.’ I have made a covenant with My chosen; I have sworn to David My servant, I will establish your seed forever, and build up your throne to all generations. Selah.” (Psalm 89:1-4)

He goes on further in this Psalm to essentially repeat this great promise:

“I have found David, My servant; with My holy oil I have anointed him, with whom My hand will be established; My arm also will strengthen him. The enemy will not deceive him, nor the sons of wickedness afflict him. But I shall crush his adversaries before him, and strike those who hate him. And my faithfulness and My lovingkindness will be with him, and in My name his horn will be exalted. I shall also set his hand on the sea, and his right hand on the rivers. He will cry to Me, ‘Thou art my Father, My God, and the rock of my salvation.’ I also shall make him My first-born, the highest of the kings of the earth. My lovingkindness I will keep for him forever, and My covenant shall be confirmed to him. So I will establish his descendants (seed) forever, and his throne as the days of heaven.” (Psalm 89:20-29)

Then the Psalmist interjects a provision of this covenant:

“If his sons forsake My law, and do not walk in My judgments, if they violate My statutes, and do not keep My commandments, then I will visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. But I will not break off My lovingkindness from him, nor deal falsely in My faithfulness.” (Psalm 89:30-33)

Once again however the everlasting nature of this covenant is recalled:

“My covenant I will not violate, nor will I alter the utterance of My lips. Once I have sworn by My holiness; I will not lie to David. His descendants (seed) shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before Me. It shall be established forever like the moon, and the witness in the sky is faithful.” (Psalm 89:34-37).

Here we see God actually swearing by His own holiness of the everlasting nature of this covenant promise to David. There can be no higher confirmation!

Yet the Psalmist is in despair, in confusion, in the depth of uncertainty, as he surveys the current low condition of the nation of Israel and particularly the apparent lack of a descendant of David anywhere near a throne.

“But Thou hast cast off and rejected, Thou hast been full of wrath against Thine anointed. Thou hast spurned the covenant of Thy servant; Thou has profaned his crown in the dust. Thou hast broken down all his walls; Thou hast brought his strongholds to ruin. All who pass along the way plunder him; he has become a reproach to his neighbors. Thou hast exalted the right hand of his adversaries; Thou hast made all his enemies rejoice. Thou dost also turn back the edge of his sword, and hast not made him stand in battle. Thou hast made his splendor to cease, and CAST HIS THRONE TO THE GROUND. Thou hast shortened the days of his youth; Thou hast covered him with shame.” (Psalm 89:38-35)
You can further feel the agony of this man of God where he pleads with the Holy One of Israel: “Where are Thy former lovingkindnesses, O Lord, which Thou didst swear to David in Thy faithfulness?” (Psalm 89:49)

It is evident that this Psalm must have been written sometime after the conquest of the land of Judah by Babylon. Perhaps it was even during the long days of Persian rule? Of that we are not sure, but one thing is sure, the Psalmist is lamenting the fact that it appears that the everlasting nature of the covenant promise to David that his throne would endure forever has failed, in spite of the oath of the Most High. The godly psalmist is struggling to understand what is taking place. “What has happened to your faithfulness O Lord?” seems to be the heartfelt cry of this man of God.

This is where we get the first glimpse of the MANNER in which the LORD would actually make good on His promise to David.

Look carefully at the first part of this Psalm once more: “I will sing of the lovingkindness of the LORD forever; to all generations I will make known Thy faithfulness with my mouth. For I have said, ‘Lovingkindness will be built up FOREVER; IN THE HEAVENS Thou wilt establish Thy faithfulness.” (Psalm 89:1-2)

Do not miss this as it is essential to understanding the nature of that wondrous promise made to David. Notice what the verse DOES NOT say:

“In the earth Thou wilt establish Thy faithfulness”
“In the land of Israel Thou wilt establish Thy faithfulness.”

This is no small matter that we are speaking of here. It goes to the very heart of the nature of the fulfillment of this promise to David. Remember, God CANNOT LIE; If He has promised something that will endure forever, then it MUST endure forever or else He breaks His promise or fails to deliver on His promise. Thus His very faithfulness is called into question. Either are unthinkable to the One who knows and loves God.

Now, it is a matter of fact that the earthly throne of David has ceased. It had ceased after the conquest of Judah as we already detailed above. At this point, it is impossible to even determine any sort of possible replacement of David’s seed since there no longer exist any genealogical records of the nation of Israel. All of those were destroyed in the Roman destruction of the nation, its temple, etc in the events which culminated in 70AD.

If the promise of the throne to endure forever is to indeed be forever, it is evident that THIS THRONE does not exist on the earth in any form. The earthly throne of David and his seed is long gone. Where then does this ETERNAL THRONE exist? The psalmist answers that question – IN THE HEAVENS. That’s where!

Now recall what we have previously established. The throne of David is also referred to as the throne of the Lord. The reason we have already stated – the one who sits on that throne, is the vice-regent of Almighty God Himself.

God cannot break His promise or He becomes unfaithful. This matchless faithfulness of God to fulfill every single one of His promises is confirmed by having an eternal throne IN THE HEAVENS upon which sits the seed of David. Now who might that be?

The answer is provided by none other than the angel Gabriel in his declaration to Mary that she would be the mother of the promised Messiah.

“Behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end.” (Luke 1: 31-33).

What is so thrilling about this announcement and the message it contained about the One who would receive the throne of David, was that it was the fulfillment of this covenant promise of God to David that Isaiah looked ahead and saw:

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.” (Isaiah 9: 6-7)

It is evident that this Seed of David, to whom the promise was intended in its fulness was none other than our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the seed of David, or the Son of David, as the Jews had come to know this promised One by the time that Jesus came onto the scene.

Just like all the promises of God which contain the idea of an everlasting covenant were fulfilled in Christ and His kingdom (the Passover, the Land, etc.), so too was that promise made to David. That is the reason we see Matthew emphasizing the lineage of David in his gospel right from the very beginning in chapter one. This Jesus is of the seed of David, says Matthew to his primarily Jewish audience.

Peter also mentions this specifically when he states that the PROOF that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed the Messiah, the Son of David, and that He had taken His seat on the throne of David, was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.

“Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. And so, because he was a prophet, and knew that God had SWORN TO HIM WITH AN OATH TO SEAT ONE OF HIS DESCENDANTS UPON HIS THRONE, he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that HE WAS NEITHER ABANDONED TO HADES, NOR DID His flesh SUFFER DECAY. This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, (seated on the throne – my comments) and having received from the Father THE PROMISE OF THE SPIRIT, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear.” (Acts 2:29-33).

What could be more clear than this? The inspired apostle, speaking under the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, categorically declares that the promise of God to David that one of his descendants would sit upon his throne was specifically referring to CHRIST JESUS!

It was the resurrection of Christ which then lead to his glorification some weeks later, which prepared Him to sit at the highest place of honor in the universe, namely the RIGHT HAND of God. That is where the throne of David is located. In the heavens! It was from that throne that He poured forth the Holy Spirit!

Now what Peter is saying to these Jews is basically this: “You all know that the Son of David, is also the Messiah. He and He alone receives the fulness of the Spirit without measure and has the authority and right to bestow that Spirit upon whomever He wishes. After all, that is what the very word, ‘Messiah’ means, the Anointed One. Do you see this phenomenon? Do you hear this message spoken in your own native tongue? This is the PROOF, the EVIDENCE, that the Messiah, the Anointed One, has taken His seat upon the throne of His father David and is NOW ruling and reigning as this mighty King foretold of in the Scriptures!”

This is the very reason that the apostle quotes from the prophet Joel in his sermon of that day:

“…but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: ‘AND IT SHALL BE IN THE LAST DAYS”, says the Lord, ‘THAT I WILL POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT UPON ALL MANKIND…’” (Acts 2:16-17).

Look at what Peter goes on to say about this promised Seed of David who would pour forth of the Spirit: “For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says, ‘THE LORD SAID TO MY Lord, ‘SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND UNTIL I MAKE THEY ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR THY FEET’”.

Therefore, let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ – this Jesus whom you crucified.” (Acts 2:34-36)

The futurists (premillennial dispensationalists) tell us that during the millennium Christ will sit on a physical throne of David in the land of Israel, but that flies in the face of the assertion of the apostle Peter that Christ Jesus is seated on that very throne now ( the day of Pentecost some 2000 years ago!).

The throne is in the heavens, not on the earth and will NEVER BE ON THE EARTH because the Psalmist tells us plainly that “IN THE HEAVENS” Thou will establish Thy faithfulness”.

There are several passages which speak of this great King, this Son of David, taking His rightful place at the right and of God.

Consider: PSALM 24 –

The King of Glory entering Zion

The psalmist asks a question:

“Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place? “(Psalm 24:3)

Comes the answer:

“He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood, and has not sworn deceitfully. He shall receive a blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation” (Psalm 24:4-5)

Then the scene shifts to the One who is the consummate individual who possesses all of these traits in abundance:

“Lift up your heads. O gates, and be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of Glory may come in!” (Psalm 24:7).

One sees a procession heading up into the heavenly Zion which has a set of bars, or doors or gates blocking entrance into its habitation. A voice rings out from the procession demanding entrance of the King of Glory into its gates. From within, a voice answers demanding to know the identity of this being.

“Who is this King of Glory?” (Psalm 24:8)

The answer comes back from the procession:

“The LORD strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle” (Psalm 24:8)

Once more the procession demand entrance into the gates:

“Lift up your heads, O gates, and lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of Glory may come in!” ( Psalm 24:9)


“Who is this King of Glory?” comes the challenge of those within the gates (verse 10)

And the final answer: “The Lord of hosts, He is the King of Glory!” (Psalm 24:10)

What more can anyone say to this scene than a thousand Hallelujahs! The mighty, conquering King, the Lord of Hosts Himself, the Son of David, the Seed of the Woman, has finished the work which His Father assigned Him to do. He has effected salvation for His elect, secured for them a perfect righteousness, defeated all their enemies, sin, the world, the grave, and the devil, and now is ready to sit down upon the throne of His father David and rule.

What else could Jesus have meant when He told His disciples to go forth and make disciples of all nations saying:

“ALL authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth…” (Matt 28:18)

No better description of the fulfillment of Psalm 24 could have been given to us than that of the apostle Paul in his letter to the Colossians:

“…when He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through the cross…” (Col 2:15)

What a perfect scene! The triumphant King parading His defeated foes before the universe as a spectacle! Who can refuse to open those gates now?

Sadly, we have an entire system of eschatology known as premillennial dispensationalism, which in effect, has this King still waiting to take the throne of David so that he might begin to exercise His reign! What a gross disservice this is to the glory of Christ! Instead of seeing Jesus in the fashion that Paul in his letter to the Hebrews does:

“But we do see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely Jesus, because of the suffering of death, CROWNED WITH GLORY AND HONOR…” (Heb 2:9).

The dispensationalist (futurist) sees him waiting to be seated on His royal throne instead of ruling in splendor and glory NOW. As a matter of Biblical fact, He has been ruling on that throne of the Lord for nearly 2000 years already!

Look at what the Psalmist goes on to say about this Seed of David:

“He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury: ‘But as for Me, I have installed My King upon Zion, My holy mountain.’ (Psalm 2:4-6)

Remember the point we made earlier in this paper – Zion became synonymous with the place from which the king would reign and where His royal throne would be located.
And what is the result of that coronation and establishment of this King?

“’Ask of Me, and I will surely give the Gentiles as Thine inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron, Thou shalt shatter them like earthenware’. Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; take warning O judges of the earth. Worship the Lord with reverence, and rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, lest He become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him.” (Psalm 2:8-12)

Notice how similar is this Psalm’s warning to that of the Lord Jesus in His days of the flesh:

“…And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like the dust.” (Matt 21:44)

Either one voluntarily casts themselves upon the mercy of this Great King, in which case his heart is broken in repentance as he mourns over his sinfulness and lack of righteousness, or his pride condemns him as an enemy to this Mighty Ruler, who will crush him to powder without mercy, shattering him like a clay pot.

Another Psalm detailing the reign of this Son of David is one of the more frequently quoted psalms in the New Testament.

“The LORD said to My Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet’. The Lord will stretch forth Thy strong scepter from Zion, saying ‘Rule in the midst of Thine enemies.’ (Psalm 110: 1-2)

We have already seen this particular psalm quoted by the apostle Peter who referred to its fulfillment in the resurrection and subsequent glorification of the Seed of David, the Lord Christ in his sermon made on the day of Pentecost in Acts, chapter 2. The King of Glory has come into the gates, taken His seat in Zion and begun to exercise his reign. He is crowned with GLORY and HONOR and wields a strong scepter with which he subdues His enemies.

Either those enemies become His friends through repentance and faith as they yield to His servants and ministers of the gospel or they remain as His enemies, in which case He will grind them all to powder.

This is a good time perhaps to show exactly how this stone fell upon the nation of disbelieving Jews.

“He said therefore, ‘A certain nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return. And he called ten of his slaves, and gave them ten minas and said to them, ‘Do business with this until I come back. BUT HIS CITIZENS HATED HIM, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us… but these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over him, bring them here and slay them in my presence.” (Luke 19:12-14, 27)

Here we see the refusal of a group of people to submit to the reign of a nobleman. To use the words of the psalmist; they refuse to bow down and do him homage. The result is inevitable, the wrath of the lord is kindled and they soon perish in the way.

These enemies of the gospel and of the early church, the Jews of that day, were crushed by the iron scepter of Christ, this King ruling out of the heavenly Zion upon the throne of David.

“For you brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews, who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men, hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved; with the result that they always fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them to the utmost.” (1Thes2:14-16)

“Fill up then the measure of the guilt of your fathers.” (Matt 23:32)

“…because these are days of vengeance, in order that all things which are written may be fulfilled. Woe to those who are with child and to those who nurse babes in those days; for there will be great distress upon the land and wrath to this people.” (Luke 21:22-23)

“Do homage to the Son, lest He become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him.” (Psalm 2:12)

One last thing in touching on this topic lest we be remiss in so doing is to refute a destructive error that has been spread by some within the Preterist camp. The detestable falsehood which some in that otherwise theologically solid system of eschatology are proclaiming, is that the Lord Jesus divested himself of His human body when He was glorified. This vile teaching strikes at the very heart of the Christian hope of having our human bodies conformed to the glorified body of the Lord Christ.

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.” (Phil 3:20-21).

It should be clearly noted, that the apostle specifically declares that one of the kingly functions of the Lord Christ – the power given to Him to subject all things to Himself – specifically includes the transformation of the bodies of the elect into conformity with the body of His glory, or His glorious body. How this can supposedly be done by a King without a glorified human body, one who supposedly “divested himself” of his human body, is as great a mystery as they come!

Essentially what these men teaching this nonsense are doing is destroying the humanity of the God-Man, the Lord Jesus Christ. Keep in mind that while the Son of God took to Himself our nature, except in His case it was in the likeness of sinful flesh seeing that He was not born of a human father but was instead born of God, He remained fully Divine even as He was fully human.

Take away his body, and He is no longer truly human for what is man but body, soul and spirit?

Man is not an angelic being. He possesses a physical body unlike the angels who are ministering spirits and do not possess physical bodies. Now as to what the exact nature of our bodies will be when they are glorified or conformed to the likeness of the Lord Jesus’ glorious body, one cannot truly say.

What we do know however is that our bodies were meant to be redeemed ( Romans 8:23), that when He appears, we will be like Him for we will see Him as He is (1John 3:2), and that we will put off mortality and be clothed with immortality (1Cor 15:51-54); and that without a body of some sort, that which makes us fully human is not possible.

With this in mind, let us visit a remarkable prophecy contained in the writings of the prophet Zechariah.

“Then say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Behold a MAN, who name is BRANCH, for He will branch out from where He is, and He will build the temple of the Lord. Yes, it is He who will build the temple of the Lord, and He who will bear the honor and SIT AND RULE ON HIS THRONE. Thus He will be a PRIEST ON HIS THRONE, and the counsel of peace will be between the two offices.” (Zech 6:12-13).

Notice, a PRIEST KING, who sits on His throne. This is our Great High Priest, after the order of Melchizedek, the priest/king of Genesis who Paul references in Hebrews where he is thinking of Psalm 110: 1-4 where this same KING is mentioned in the first few verses of that Psalm followed by a priest after the order of Melchizedek.

“The LORD says to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, until I make your enemies a footstool for Thy feet’. The Lord will stretch forth Thy strong scepter from Zion, saying, ‘Rule in the midst of Thy enemies.’ Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power, in holy array, from the womb of the dawn, Thy youth are to Thee as the dew. The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind, ‘Thou art a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek…” (Psalm 110: 1-4)

To rebut the foolishness of premillennial dispensationalism – if Jesus is NOT CURRENTLY SEATED on the throne of David, we Christians have NO HIGH PRIEST, because this priest sits on a throne and that throne is clearly revealed in the pages of the Old Testament to be none other than the throne of David.


This King must have a Throne or He is no Priest. This Priest must be a King or He is no Priest. If this Priest/King is not seated on the Throne of David, right now, not at some point in the future in some sort of fanciful millennium, then we HAVE NO INTERCESSOR between us and God. Just think about the ramifications of such a thing!

This by itself, should be enough to obliterate every last vestige of the futurist scheme if they but understood the folly of what they are saying when they erroneously postpone that seating on the throne of David far off into the future and only for a period of some 1000 literal years.

However, this can also be used to expose the idea of some sort of bodiless spirit of Jesus which is currently being espoused by some false teachers in the Preterist camp. Both promises are made to a MAN.

“(Behold the MAN whose name is Branch)”.

It is a MAN who sits on the Throne of David and it is a MAN who is the Great High Priest after the order of Melchizedek. To be a man, this mighty being must be fully and recognizably human and that He cannot be without some form of a human body. That body is a GLORIFIED HUMAN BODY, or we have no mediator and no king, at least not one that God’s promises are made good in. If Jesus divested His human body, as some of these false teachers are asserting, then the promise of God fails, something which is impossible.


I will leave you with this passage:

“The Lord has established His throne in the heavens.” ( Psalm 103:19)

May the Lord bless these things to the reader’s benefit and edification and may he or she be spurred on to further delve into these matters and in so doing, come away marveling at the faithfulness of the Lord and say with the apostle Paul:

“For ‘WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN’. For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:34-36)

“He will give him the throne of his father David” (Isaiah 9:7)

Dan Norcini SS
February 19, 2019

Posted in 2nd Coming, Dispensationalism, Eschatology, Norcini | Leave a comment

Someone please explain this…

So let me get this straight. Daniel was told to seal up his vision because fulfillment would not come for “many days in the future” (approx. 600 years) and John was told not seal up his vision because the prophecies contained therein “must shortly take place” (approx. 2,000 years?). If we think a world full of skeptics and critics will buy this logic, then I think we are unwittingly delusional.

I realize this creates a conundrum for many Christians who buy what today’s prophecy gurus are selling, but this is something that must be wrestled with lest we continue to wallow in the sea of intellectual dishonesty. There is a viable answer to this apparent dilemma but it will require nothing short of a paradigm shift to grasp it. There is good reason why all of the prophecy experts have been wrong and continue to be wrong.

To be clear, the Bible isn’t errant.

Posted in Eschatology | Leave a comment

Expectations of Doom and Gloom

Since becoming a Christian in 1972, Jesus has been coming soon. In 1973, during my short daily commutes to USF, I used to gaze into the sky wondering if today would be THE DAY of His glorious appearing. And the fervor over Jesus’ impending return hasn’t diminished one iota in the past 45 years. Every school shooting, Middle East skirmish, natural disaster, financial crisis and/or anything considered negative, is always perceived as a sign that we’re in the final days of the ‘last days.’ Just wander through the eschatology section of your local Christian bookstore. All of the popular apocalyptic novels and movies are similarly themed. The world is in an out-of-control death spiral on the road to Armageddon. And, according to the gurus, we can only expect things to get much worse. The worse things get, many argue, the closer it is to Jesus’ return. So, in a somewhat perverse sense, there seems to be a morbid preoccupation with gloom. When bad things happen the constant refrain is, “It’s just a sign of the times.” And the carrot is, Jesus’ return is right around the corner. They assume that what God the Holy Spirit, (the second person of the Trinity), has been unable to accomplish in the past 2,000 years, Jesus (the third person of the Trinity) will do in the twinking of an eye.

Following are just a few titles headlining the prophecy sections of our bookstores. Take a moment to peruse them. Makes you feel warm and fuzzy all over. 🙂 Is there any wonder Christians have underlying expectations of coming food shortages, financial chaos, escalating wars, civil unrest, increasing natural disasters… all ultimately leading to the END?

  • Is there the slightest possibility that there is a fatal flaw in the underlying premise of all these books?
  • Wouldn’t it be reasonable to expect that at least some of the predictions found in these books (other than the obvious short-term events that any political or financial analyst could have predicted) would have been fulfilled by now? Some of these authors have produced as many as 15 to 20 similarly style works and none of the main events have come to pass.
  • Is it possible that this entire genre of Christian literature is so far off base that none of these books will have produced a shred of fulfillment even 20-30 years from now? 

Consider just a few forerunners to those shown above and below: The Late Great Planet Earth (1971), Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth (1972), The Terminal Generation (1976), New World Coming (1984), Final Dawn Over Jerusalem (1997), Planet Earth 2000 -Will Mankind Survive? (1994), all 16 books in the Left Behind Series (1995-2007), The Last Jihad (2002), The Apocalypse Code (2007), The Late Great United States (2009), The Twelfth Iman (2010),  Edge of the Apocalypse (2010), Earth’s Final Moments (2011), Jerusalem Countdown (2011), Israel at War (2012), The Four Blood Moons (2013), Damascus Countdown (2013), The Shemitah (2014)… 

We have spent millions if not billions on these exhilarating reads. But, have you ever asked what we have to show for it… other than ever more gloomy expectations of impending doom?

Given the overwhelmingly negative content of all these apocalyptic books, ask yourself (as I did) the following:

  1. Does the Bible speak about the end of the world [kosmos] or the end of the age [aion]? If so, is there a difference?
  2. Are we still living in the same ‘last days’ which Peter and the author of Hebrews said they were living in almost 2,000 years ago? (Acts 2:16-21; Hebrews 1:1-2)?
  3. If so, then why do you think God chose to use the term ‘last days’ (which in every context means the tail end of something) to describe a time period 400 years longer than the entire Mosaic economy (which was approx 1,600 years)?
  4. Does the Bible speak of a singular person called antichrist? (read HERE and HERE)
  5. Does the New Testament predict that the Temple will be rebuilt? (Watch HERE)
  6. Does the New Testament predict a regathering of Jews in the last days?
  7. Has God preordained that from this point forward things are destined to go from bad to worse? If so, which passages of Scripture support that premise?
  8. Are these ever-present gloomy expectations having a chilling effect on our mandate to make disciples of all nations?
  9. Is there still a chance of worldwide revival and the healing of the nations?
  10. Is the Gospel destined to fail? In other words, is evil so pervasive that the work of the Holy Spirit as He inhabits Christians, incapable of revolutionizing the world for Christ?

If you have a few minutes, I’d like to share some thoughts that reverberated throughout my noggin after returning from a wonderful tour of the UK. I will attempt to deal with most of these questions, emphasizing question #7. It seems that we 21st-century Americans have far too little historical context with which to put our current difficulties in the proper perspective. And this lack makes us prone to make sweeping, eschatologically-induced generalizations like, “We live in terrible times.” Really? Compared to what?

On the lighter side…

Posted in 2nd Coming, Eschatology | Leave a comment

The Apocalypse in Space and Time

This is an outstanding survey outlining the way in which the book of Revelation [apocalypse: the unveiling] has been viewed throughout church history. Bruce Gore, your tour guide, has been a teacher/theologian/professor /historian for most of his adult life and is currently on the Whitworth College staff as he has been for 30 plus years. Be forewarned, Bruce will challenge you! 

Concerning this series, Bruce writes: “THE APOCALYPSE IN SPACE AND TIME: The New Testament book of Revelation was likely written by the Apostle John early in the era of the persecution of Christians under Nero (in spite of the opinion of many that the book originated later under the reign of Domitian). Across the vast Roman empire, Christian people were being targeted for oppression, imprisonment, exile, and death. The church needed a strong message of encouragement, and the book of Revelation provided that message. Chapter 17 of Revelation provides helpful references that can guide our exploration of the precise timing of the book. This introductory lecture examines the historical setting suggested by that chapter.”


1) The Historical Setting of the Book of Revelation
The book of Revelation was originally addressed to seven churches in Asia Minor, today’s western Turkey. Each of the churches represented a condition of Christian fellowship in crisis, as each faced the prospect of imperial oppression from Rome. At the same time, the churches give insight into the conditions of the church throughout her history, and for this reason, it is useful to consider the counsel offered by Jesus, through the Apostle John, to each of them.

2) Letters to the Seven Churches
The book of Revelation was originally addressed to seven churches in Asia Minor, today’s western Turkey. Each of the churches represented a condition of Christian fellowship in crisis, as each faced the prospect of imperial oppression from Rome. At the same time, the churches give insight into the conditions of the church throughout her history, and for this reason, it is useful to consider the counsel offered by Jesus, through the Apostle John, to each of them.

3) The Apocalypse in the 3rd and 4th Centuries
By the beginning of the third century, the chiliastic views that dominated earlier Christian thought had begun to wane, being replaced by a vision that expected a much longer course of Christian history and growth. The idea was brought to its most sweeping expression by the great Christian thinker, St. Augustine, whose view of Revelation came to dominate the middle ages well past the time of Thomas Aquinas. In the spirit of Augustine’s understanding, vast numbers of Christian missionaries carried the gospel to the barbarian tribes surrounding Europe, and in time the effects of Christian influence began to be felt.

4) The Historicist Approach to Revelation
The dominant view of the Book of Revelation during the Reformation period was the ‘historicist,’ largely because it provided a biblical framework by which to understand and interpret the evident corruption of the Roman Catholic church, and the bloodshed experienced by those aligned with the Protestant cause. The historicist view continued to heavily influence the post-Reformation period, especially among the Puritans, and became an important interpretive approach in the early 19th century among some millennarians, especially the Adventists and their most famous champion, Ellen G. White.

5) Jonathan Edwards and Puritan Postmillennialism
The Puritans added a new aspect to the historicist view of Revelation with their post-millennial eschatology. The most thorough and formidable expression of this view came from the pen of the great Puritan divine, Jonathan Edwards, whose treatment of the subject would leave a lasting impression for generations to come.

6) The Age of Reason, 2nd Great Awakening, and Millerism
The end of the Age of Reason and beginning of the Age of Anti-Reason in the early 19th century saw the introduction of a variety of new theories as to the meaning of the book of Revelation. The most important voice in this movement was that of William Miller, who used a historicist approach mixed with the emotionalism of the Second Great Awakening to produce a precise calculation as to the time of Christ’s return. While Miller eventually died disappointed, his contribution spawned a number of related movements that shared his conception but reworked his timetable. This lecture surveys this extraordinary moment in Christian history.

7) The Age of Reason, 2nd Great Awakening, and Millerism
The early nineteenth century witnessed the rise of a variety of religious perspectives, and included among them was a recovered vision of a pre-millennial eschatology from the book of Revelation. The movements varied in many ways, but the shared common denominator involved an expectation of the soon return of Christ and the establishment of his rule for a thousand years. Many of these millennial movements died out in subsequent decades, but a few persisted and remain important to the present day. One of those was the movement founded by Ellen G. White and her husband, James White, and known to us as the Seventh Day Adventists.

8) John Nelson Darby and Dispensationalism
During the Second Great Awakening of the early 19th Century, a parallel movement in England produced the innovative eschatological scheme known as Dispensationalism, the creation of John Nelson Darby. This movement was widely popularized in America by James Brooks and his most famous protege, C.I. Scofield.

9) Dispensationalism in America
The system of eschatology worked out by John N. Darby came to America largely through the influence and support of James H. Brookes, pastor of Walnut Street Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, Missouri. A prolific author and effective speaker, Brookes gave the dispensational message a powerful voice that began to reach large numbers of evangelical Christians in America in the late 1800s. The influence was greatly expanded, however, by the young protege of Brookes, C.I. Scofield, who embraced the Darby/Brookes views and incorporated them into a publication that would become one of the most important in shaping the views of evangelical Christians in America, the Scofield Reference Bible. It would be impossible to overstate the sweeping impact of the Scofield notes in subsequent American Christian history, and to this day the Scofield Bible, along with its many editions, revisions, and republications, has remained a staple of conservative Christianity in America.

10) The Preterist Approach to Revelation
Throughout the history of the church, there have always been those who maintained that the colorful and powerful images of Revelation refer largely to events that took place in the first century, and are related generally to the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple, and the definitive end of the Old Covenant era. While this view has not often been the majority outlook, it has persisted, and continues to offer a compelling perspective for the thoughtful reader of the Apocalypse. This lecture offers a summary of the major aspects of the view usually called ‘preterist.’

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