God Works – Dan Norcini

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Glorifying in the Cross – Dan Norcini

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A Critique of the Corporate Body View of the Resurrection of the Dead

Jerel Kratt

I have been a believer in fulfilled prophecy for over eight years now. At the beginning of my journey, the two biggest hurdles to overcome as a partial preterist were the resurrection of the dead and the millennium. These two items are likely the two biggest items of debate within the preterist world still today. I began to study these two items deeply, and immediately after accepting the one and only second coming of Christ in AD70, I joined a private email study group composed of all the major public proponents of what is called the “Corporate Body View” (hereafter, “CBV”) of the resurrection.

If you are not familiar with this view, it is essentially that the “resurrection of the dead,” specifically in texts like 1 Cor. 15, does not refer to individual dead people departing Hades, but to the corporate or collective body of saints, both alive and dead, coming out of Judaism and into the church or the “body” of Christ. I quickly adopted this view because it seemed tremendously logical and straightforward. I immersed myself into the works of Max King, who was considered to have written the definitive work explaining a corporate body view of the resurrection of the dead. I have written a few articles on the subject over the years, and spoken at three different Preterist Pilgrim Weekends on the subject of resurrection.

As I continued to study these subjects and engage other preterist Christians who had different views on the resurrection, I started seeing problems with many of the arguments made to defend a corporate body view of the resurrection of the dead. This paper seeks to analyze those problems and propose a solution.

Each titled section in this paper is a critique of the each of the most important arguments made in the CBV. At the end, I offer a possible solution that honors the corporate and covenantal aspects of the story from Genesis to Revelation, but also gives clarity to what happened (and happens today?) to the individual.

“Our Body”

It could easily be said that the most foundational argument of the CBV is that the use of the phrase “our body” (a plural possessive pronoun with a singular noun) by Paul in resurrection-related passages indicates that only a corporate body resurrection can be in view and that numerous individual bodies cannot be in view. This has been the view of every CBV speaker at all the Preterist Pilgrim Weekends on the topic of resurrection – Preston, Scott, Bell, Curtis, etc., and was specifically the argument made by King in “The Cross and the Parousia.” It is based on a basic Greek grammar rule which says that generally, pronouns and nouns should agree in number. Therefore, if the noun “body” is singular following a plural pronoun such as “our,” then the meaning is to be understood as a single corporate “body” (group, collective) to which everyone who is addressed belongs.

However, there are exceptions to this Greek rule, and context determines which way it goes. It was possible to use a plural possessive pronoun with a singular noun in order to put emphasis on the noun. This usage was not meant to communicate the existence of only one noun collectively for all those represented by the plural pronoun. I will demonstrate this by looking at some advanced Greek Grammars and citing some scriptural examples. Those examples will also be looked at via the context of surrounding passages.

In Wallace’s Grammar (pg. 399-406), he lists several categories of pronoun/noun number agreement: “collective singular subjects, compound subjects, indefinite plurals, and categorical plurals.” Both Robertson’s Grammar and Blass and Debrunner’s Grammar discuss this phenomenon, calling them “idiomatic plurals and singulars,” and constructio ad sensum (“construction according to the sense”), respectively. Turner’s Grammar says that using a plural pronoun with a singular noun in order to put emphasis on the noun, but not deny the plurality of the noun, was a common Hebraism: “Contrary to normal Greek and Latin practice, the NT sometimes follows the Aramaic and Hebrew preference for a distributive singular. Something belonging to each person in a group is placed in the singular: as in, TO SOMA HUMON (1 Cor. 6:19) and EN TE KARDIA AUTON (Luke 1:66).”

Therefore, according to the rules of grammar, it wouldn’t be wrong to first consider the singular noun option, but the plural noun should also be considered; it could go either way based on context. The words “our (plural) body (singular)” in and of themselves do not prove a corporate body is in view.

The primary singular body CBV texts are: Romans 8:23 (NASB) “And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body; and Philippians 3:21 (NASB) “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.”

Romans is challenging because concepts of corporate identity exist throughout – identity based on the law, on sin, and on covenant. “Flesh” (Greek: sarx) is a word used by Paul, which is often argued by CBV advocates to be a mode of existence based on the Law (in fact, I wrote a paper on this very position about 7 years ago, borrowing mostly from Max King). Indeed, life under the law was a “wretched” existence according to Paul (7:24). This is a good and acceptable understanding of “flesh” here in Romans 7 & 8.

However, “the flesh” had a more protracted meaning than “covenantal mode of existence” in the ancient Greek, and in Paul’s writings. According to the highly respected scholar F.F. Bruce (Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free, 1977), “flesh” primarily referred to human nature, and was seen as the locus of temptation and sin; not literally in biological tissue, but more holistically in the individual as a whole person. That is, when one would say “his mind was set on the flesh” they meant he was living according to his own human nature, not brought under control by the mind of God through His Spirit (e.g. Gal. 5:16-21).

Of course, a corporate solidarity exists for those who were under the Law, for they all shared the same fate and were all under the same covenant. But the meaning of “in the flesh” should not be stretched beyond its normal use in order to exclude it – that is, it would be incorrect to define the meaning of “in the flesh” as only a covenantal “mode of existence” to the exclusion of the individual’s human nature as sinful. The human nature is general and primary; the covenantal mode of existence is specific within that general category. One text that makes this point clear is Galatians 2:18-20.

(ESV) “For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. (19) For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. (20) I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

It is clear here that being under the law is not the same as being in the flesh, since Paul said that he died to the law yet was still in the flesh. And, Gentiles who had not formerly known God or were in a covenantal mode of existence under the Law were also said to be “in the flesh” (see Gal. 4:8-9 with 5:13ff). So it might be better stated that being “in the flesh” in the above texts is not specifically talking about biological tissue, and while a having covenantal background are most certainly and primarily talking about being “human.”

What is problematic to the single-body view of Romans 8:23 is the plurality of individuals discussed throughout that chapter. For example:

(8:11) (NASB) “…will also give life to your mortal bodies

Verse 11 is a tricky verse for the CBV advocates. Over my years of study with them on this, no solid contextual answer has ever been given without resorting to a lot of imposing of foreign concepts into the text. Next we will look at verse 13:

(8:13) (NASB) “for if you [plural] are living according to the flesh, you [plural] must die; but if by the Spirit you [plural] are putting to death the deeds of the body, you [plural] will live.”

Contextually it cannot be the deeds of a corporate body (such as of Moses, Adam or Christ) being put to death, but rather must be the individual deeds of each person because of what is said in the next verse:

(8:14) NASB “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”

Paul’s point was that there were individual members of the body of Christ who were not putting to death the sinful deeds of their own individual selves, with the result that some would live (spiritually) and some would die (spiritually). This is seen clearly by Paul’s use of “so then” (Greek: ara) in 8:12, which is a particle denoting inference, the drawing of a decisive conclusion regarding the “mortal bodies”:

(8:12) NASB “So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.”

Since each individual Roman believers had been set free from the law of sin and death, they each one then must not live according to the sinful human nature aroused by the law. Why? Because (a) the Spirit was within each of them, and (b) they were about to suffer with Christ through the great persecution, which would (c) result in each one who overcomes being glorified with Christ:

(8:16-17) NASB “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, (17) and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.”

The CBV also misses or de-emphasizes the theme of martyrdom in this chapter. The second half of Romans 8 (vs. 18-39) is built around a promise to people (in Rome) about to be martyred under the persecution of Nero, and is meant to teach them that when they are martyred they will be glorified like Christ was after his martyrdom. This Neronic persecution, which followed the Jewish persecution they were then receiving, was the “suffering” and “pains of childbirth” in Rom. 8:18 & 22 (cf. Matt. 24:7-9):

Romans 8:18, 22 NASB “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us… (22) For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.”

So when we get to the phrase “redemption of our body” (8:23), a singular noun with a plural pronoun, it does not prove that ONLY one body (i.e. a corporate body) would be raised. Individual “bodies” is what Paul meant in this chapter when he used the word “soma,” based on its use in verse 11 (“your mortal bodies”). Paul would be using the idiomatic plural here, a Hebraic construction, or constructio ad sensum (construction according to the sense).

In addition to all the plural nouns applicable to each Roman Christian in this chapter (“sons,” “heirs,” “hearts,” “saints”), we can see here that the promise was that the Spirit would help each individual person in their weakness, searching each person’s heart:

(8:26-27) NASB “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; (27) and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

This was not a promise to the weakness of a corporate body (notice “our weakness” is a plural pronoun with a singular noun); that would be incredibly impotent and impersonal with the upcoming tribulation. Rather, it was to the “hearts” of the “saints.”

This is further confirmed towards the end, once the entire chapter is read as a whole in its context of persecution and distress:

(8:35-36) NASB “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (36) Just as it is written, ‘FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.’” [emphasis NASB]

The second primary text for a singular corporate body resurrection is Phil. 3:21. Max King (The Cross & the Parousia, pg. 565-573) identified Phil. 3:21 as a clear text that showed that “body” meant a corporate group, not the individual person:

Philippians 3:20-21 ESV “(20) But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, (21) who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”

There are several problems with a corporate body view here. I will engage these problems in three major points.

First, what is the lowly body? The phrase “lowly body” (ESV), “vile body” (KJV), “body of our humble state” (NASB) in Greek is soma tes tapeinoseos, which literally is “body of our humiliation.” It is usually claimed in the CBV that the “lowly body” is the corporate body of Israel to which the Apostle and other Jews were still in the process of dying (TC&TP, pg. 572). This is argued primarily because Paul discussed the Judaizing “dogs” earlier in Phil. 3, and expressed his historic solidarity with Israel and his movement out of the Law of Moses. King argues:

“Since the law set forth a mode of somatic existence wherein sin and death were able to reign, it follows that victory through Christ is by means of a new mode of existence wherein life and righteousness reign. We conclude, therefore, that (1) somatic change is determined by a change in one’s mode of existence, (2) this is accomplished through a change from the Old to the New covenant, (3) covenantal change was the specific design of Christ’s pre-end-of-the-age reign, and from that viewpoint, Paul ties somatic change in v. 21 to the working of Christ.” [Emphasis King’s] (pg. 573)

While I disagree with King’s interpretation of this text as applied to the “body,” I am not denying the overlapping of covenants during this transition period nor Paul’s past as a Jew under the Law. The problem for King is there are no actual written statements by NT authors or direct, concrete evidence that covenantal change = somatic change. This is a theory, strung together on facts assumed to connect to each other, much like how reformed theories of atonement are strung together. This will become clearer as we continue.

A basic rule of preterist interpretation is to pay attention to the pronouns and see who is being addressed. The pronoun “our” in Phil. 3:20 contextually can only be Paul’s entire audience in Philippi (at least, all those who are “perfect”):

Philippians 3:15 NASB “Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you;”

The church in Philippi was likely composed of Jews (cf. Acts 16:12ff; Lydia likely being a Jewish proselyte), but also of Greeks who never would have been in the corporate body of Israel. The text doesn’t indicate two lowly corporate bodies (one for Jews and the other for Gentiles), so the context of “our” being all of Paul’s audience in Philippi precludes the typical corporate body view of dying to old covenant Israel, since the Greeks were never in the old covenant body of Moses (and I will demonstrate later that Gentile converts to Christ did not enter into the old covenant body of Moses). It would have to be some other “covenantal body” which included both Jews and Greeks that Paul had in mind if he was indeed referring to a corporate body.

Some CBV advocates say the “body of humiliation” is not the old covenant body of Moses as King specified, but rather is the body of Christ, the church, which did contain both Jews and Gentiles. If the “lowly body” was the church/the body of Christ, then it seems to contradict other more specific passages about the church being “pure, spotless, undefiled, a bride,” etc.

2 Corinthians 11:2 ESV “For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.”

Ephesians 5:25-27 ESV “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, (26) that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, (27) so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”

1 Peter 2:4, 5, 7a, 9 ESV “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, (5) you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ… (7) So the honor is for you who believe … (9) But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

Do any of these passages sound like the body of Christ is “lowly” or of “humble state”? While possible, it doesn’t seem intuitively likely.

Leaving the discussion on the “lowly body” for a brief moment, I’d like to look at the context of the entire epistle, which I believe shows that the best meaning of “lowly body” is the individual person. Every other instance of this word “lowly” (Greek: tapeinosei) – three other times in the NT – refer to specific individuals found in a state of humiliation (see Luke 1:48; Acts 8:33; James 1:10).

Here in Phil. 3:21, the form of this word is a noun. The verb form of this word, etapeinosen, is used of Jesus just one chapter earlier in Phil 2:8 (ESV):

“(6) who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (8) And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Notice that the verb points to Jesus’ humble state as a “human.” This fits with every other NT use of this word. The most logical way to determine this word’s meaning is to see how Paul used it elsewhere in the same letter. As we have already seen, he used it in reference to Jesus’ “human form,” which leads to the simple conclusion that Paul was referring to the individual human, not the church, when he used the phrase “lowly body.”

Second, notice in the preceding verse (3:20) the location of both the citizenship and the Savior: “heaven.” The most straightforward contextual explanation is that the individual bodies of the saints in Philippi would be transformed into the same type of heavenly body as Jesus possessed in heaven. In refutation of this, CBV advocates usually point out the corporate solidarity Paul had as a Jew with the Law and the body of Moses from previous verses in chapter 3. While Paul certainly identified as belonging to that community, he also thoroughly repudiated it (3:7-8). Paul then made a personal plea for his own individual resurrection: “that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead” (3:11). One’s covenantal status surely dictated the end result in the resurrection, but this does not negate the individual tone clearly present in this text.

At this point, CBV advocates usually counter-argue (as I have done in the past) that the fact that Paul would say he hoped “by any means possible” to “attain the resurrection,” followed by “not that I’ve already obtained it,” would be an odd thing to say if he is talking about a corpse resurrection, or even an invisible individual bodily resurrection out of Hades, since it would be obvious that he hadn’t obtained it yet because he was still living! And, if it was the general resurrection of the dead, doesn’t everyone (both the just and the unjust) participate in it to be judged? If so, why would Paul “hope” to be part of something that he had no choice over?

While I am certainly not arguing for a corpse resurrection, I do believe that Paul used rhetoric designed to demonstrate that even in his imprisonment, he felt he hadn’t yet “completed the race” of his apostolic ministry as it were. This seems to reflect some sort of maturity benchmark. Notice 2 Timothy, which would be during Paul’s last imprisonment before his death:

2 Timothy 2:3-10 ESV “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. (4) No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. (5) An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. (6) It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. (7) Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. (8) Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, (9) for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! (10) Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”

Though the Greek word here for “may obtain” is not exactly the same as “may attain” in Phil. 3:11-12, it is very similar in meaning and communicates the same idea. This passage clearly describes striving for maturity and holiness as striving for salvation and the attainment of glory, just as Paul did in Phil. 3. “Striving” is very uncomfortable for evangelicals based on our “grace vs. works” mentality. But we know from what we read above that Paul clearly saw the need to continue to strive for holiness and perfection “in order to attain” both resurrection and salvation.

1 John 3 also emphasizes purity in connection with seeing Christ, which I believe is connected with the idea of seeing God “face to face” (or “eye to eye”).

1 John 3:2-3 ESV “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. (3) And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”

Notice the emphasis on purifying oneself. This connects with the striving theme above. I might also note here that this passage seems to strongly indicate a transformation of each/all of the children into being like Christ at his parousia, rather than a legal transformation of a corporate body. This seems intuitively clear by how John said he and they didn’t know what they would be like when Jesus returned. If this was talking about covenant transition, this would be a ridiculous thing to say since they were preaching exactly what a new covenant without an old covenant would look like.

One of the most important examples of striving till the end might be Revelation 3. In the seven letters, some are told that if they endure to the end (i.e. if they die as martyrs in the persecution), they will be saved. But some, because of their spiritual maturity, will get to skip the whole tribulation:

Rev. 3:10-11 ESV “Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. (11) I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.

The implications of this are interesting and are more than we can discuss here. The point remains that it is not outside the scope of Paul’s teaching for him to write “not that I have attained it” in order to emphasize continued need to work and strive for holiness.

Third, it’s not just in Phil. 3:21 where Paul employs a plural possessive pronoun with a singular noun (“our body”). The two preceding verses (3:19-20) have four occurrences: “whose end is destruction,” “whose god is their appetite,” “whose glory is their shame,” and “our citizenship is in heaven.” Each of the Christ-deniers had their own destruction, their own appetite, and their own shame. Each citizen of heaven had their own citizenship. One might argue that there was a corporate solidarity in each of the two groups, and that is certainly true, but we can know for certain that the singular nouns were distributive because of how Paul employed a plural noun with a plural pronoun in the same sentence construction: “who set their minds on earthly things.” Paul had no problem switching between singular and plural nouns with plural pronouns.

A rather clear example of how Paul employed the plural possessive pronoun with a singular noun to give emphasis to the noun, yet acknowledge the obvious plurality of the noun, is 1 Thess. 5:23.

(ESV) “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Notice how “your” is plural, but the nouns “spirit,” “soul,” and “body” are singular. Paul didn’t mean the corporate spirit, soul and body of the Thessalonian church, he meant the individual spirits, souls and bodies of the Thessalonian saints might be kept until the Parousia. CBV advocates use this text in this way to prove imminence and audience relevance, and they are right to do so. Yet, Paul uses “your (plural) body (singular)” here in Thessalonians, which is the same grammatical construct as “our body” in the two disputed texts.

Other examples of the plural possessive pronoun with a singular noun, but meaning a plurality of the noun distributed to each individual, are:

Luke 6:22 ESV “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!”

Romans 8:16 ESV “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,”

Romans 8:26 ESV “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”

2 Corinthians 1:12 NASB “For our proud confidence is this: the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you.”

2 Corinthians 6:11 NASB Our mouth has spoken freely to you, O Corinthians, our heart is opened wide.”

1 Thessalonians 2:17 NASB “But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short while–in person, not in spirit–were all the more eager with great desire to see your face.”

James 3:3 NASB “Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well.”

Revelation 13:16 NASB “And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead

The James 3:3 passage is very important, because here we clearly see the singular “body” meaning multiple horses’ bodies.

After looking at all the evidence regarding plural possessive pronouns with singular nouns, it is clear that the CBV claim that the phrase “our body” must be a corporate body is not only contrary to the rules of Greek grammar, but also is contrary to the context of the passages in view.

“Are Being Raised”

A major pillar of the CBV is Paul’s use of the present passive indicative (“PPI”) verb form in 1 Corinthians 15 For example, the numerously used phrase in the text, “are raised,” is argued to technically be, “are being raised.” This is meant to show that there was a dying/rising process underway when Paul wrote. If people were in the process of dying and rising in AD57 when 1 Corinthians was written, then this must prove that the resurrection of the body must be the corporate body of Christ referred to earlier in 1 Cor. 12, so the argument goes. Specifically, this dying and rising process was integrally tied to the changing of the covenants – dying to the law and rising to Christ in the process of redemption and salvation.

Jack Scott taught this view at the 2009 PPW (I was present), Sam Frost wrote about it in his book “Exegetical Essays on the Resurrection,” and William Bell wrote an article on it in Fulfilled! Magazine in 2013. None of them, however, except Scott, site any Greek authorities, who cited from Machen’s “New Testament Greek for Beginners.” Machen said that translating the present passive indicative verb as an ongoing action can communicate better in English, but he also gives caution about doing so.

More advanced Greek studies indicate that the PPI need not always be translated as ongoing, and many times are not unless the context clearly indicates the need for such. A PPI can be an event in the past, an event in the present, an ongoing event in the present, or an event in the future. Greek is complex like that.

Context determines.

Wallace notes several nuances of the present tense: The progressive present, where the action is an ongoing process; the iterative present, where an action repeatedly happens; the gnomic present, where the statement indicates a timeless fact; the futuristic present, where the action is an event in the future. There is also the aorist present, the historical present, and the periphrastic present.

One such example (among many) is 1 Corinthians 3:11 NASB “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” “Is laid” is a present passive indicative verb, but it would be wrong to translate it “is being laid,” since that foundation was already laid; what was ongoing was the building upon the foundation (see 3:10). This is an example of a gnomic present. Another example is 1 Corinthians 12:8 NASB “For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit.” Just as in the previous use in 1 Corinthians, the PPI here is not an ongoing process for the individual, but a specific event in the past. The Spirit had already poured out these gifts to the Corinthians, who were employing them in incorrect ways.

In 1 Cor. 15, every time Paul refers to the resurrection of the dead he uses the present passive form, except for one instance at the end, 15:52, where he uses the future passive indicative: “the dead will be raised.” Since according to Wallace the future tense does not admit any present progressive aspect, and since there is no reason to think that Paul was discussing two different resurrections of the dead in this chapter, it seems contradictory for him to imply a progressive aspect in previous instances then deny it in vs. 52. If Paul wanted to indicate a progressive aspect of the resurrection, he would have used a periphrastic future in vs 52 to express this idea (see Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, pg. 648).

My point in raising this is not to say that “are raised” cannot be an ongoing action, but that it incorrect to say it must be ongoing simply because it is a present passive indicative. Again, the context of the chapter will determine how to understand what would be raised at the Parousia.

The Prophetic Background

Hosea and the prophets are used in the CBV to demonstrate the covenant change which was underway in the first century. This then is used to prove that the “body” in 1 Cor. 15 is the corporate body of Israel (from Hosea) being raised into the corporate body of Christ. This is a very strong and powerful argument.

Without denying the covenantal death that Israel as a nation was in because of their sin (Hos. 6:1-3; 8:1, 8; 13:1, 12-13), there is also an individual aspect in the passage quoted by Paul in 1 Cor. 15:55. Hosea moves from the corporate identity of “Ephraim” in 13:12 to a plurality of persons in Sheol (Hades):

Hosea 13:14 ESV “Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from Death? O Death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion is hidden from my eyes.”

“Sheol” was the location of the dead in Hebrew thought. Some CBV advocates deny this, claiming Sheol is symbolic for the grave, which is symbolic of covenant death (cut off from the presence of God as a nation). While I agree with the connection to covenant death, a word study of Sheol in the entire OT shows that this word does not fit for grave in most of its uses (see Morey, Death and the Afterlife, pg. 72-93). Sheol as the underworld location of the dead was common in ANE thought and was used throughout the Second Temple literature. One can correctly argue that the word pictures were highly metaphoric and apocalyptically styled (i.e. not to be taken as a literal description), but there is no evidence that Second Temple writers or their audience understood “Sheol” as only a metaphor for covenant death and nothing else. Furthermore, not once did Jesus or any apostle redefine Sheol as a word which held no meaning other than as a metaphor for “covenant death.” Likely the most important NT demonstrating this is Acts 2:31-32, where Peter speaks of Jesus having neither having his flesh see decay in the tomb nor his person being abandoned in the realm of Hades (as most of his contemporaries would have believed).

Paul also referenced Isaiah 25:8 in 1 Cor. 15:54. Covenant judgment in Isaiah 24-27 is absolutely at the forefront. However, it’s not a corporate “body” that is found in this text, but many individual “bodies:”

Isaiah 26:19 (ESV) “Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead [plural].”

In fact, there’s not one location in the entire OT where the word “body” is used in a corporate manner, specifically in regard to resurrection language. The only time “body” is used, it is in the plural (Isa. 26:19). The whole “house” of Israel will be raised (Ezek. 37:11), but even here there are plural “graves” (37:12-13) for the “people.” I’m not arguing a literal grave resurrection in Ezekiel; that is not the meaning of this text. My point is that “body” is not used as a singular noun to represent a corporate body in the prophets; when the prophets spoke of resurrection, they say a national/corporate identity resurrection, and a personal individual resurrection out of the realm of the dead.

“Body” in 1 Corinthians

Another argument sometimes made by CBV advocates is how Paul used “body” in a corporate manner throughout 1 Corinthians, so when he gets to chapter 15 he is just continuing that same meaning. It goes without saying that there is not one scholar or expositor who agrees with this, so the burden of proof is on the one making this claim. Nevertheless, I will deconstruct this argument by looking at all the 1 Corinthians passages that have the word “body” in them:

1 Corinthians 5:3 NASB “For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present.”

This is Paul’s personal body.

1 Corinthians 6:13-20 NASB “Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body. (14) Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power. (15) Do you not know that your bodies [plural pronoun with a plural noun-jk] are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! (17) But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. (18) Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. (19) Or do you not know that your body [plural pronoun with a singular noun-jk] is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? (20) For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body [plural pronoun with a singular noun-jk].

Here, Paul is addressing individuals in the church and teaching them what they do with their bodies is critically important. Notice that Paul employs both the plural noun “bodies” (vs. 15) and the singular noun “body” (vss. 18, 19). This does not mean that Paul switched from the individual to the corporate. When one understands the rules of grammar (discussed above), then it’s obvious that a singular “body” can also mean plural “bodies.” The words “a man” and “his own body” specifically mean that Paul was addressing the sexual use of each individual person’s body. A common reply by CBV advocates is that the individual is part of the corporate and what they do with their personal body impacts the corporate body. Well, of course it does. No one is denying that. But, that does not prove a corporate meaning of the word “body” here in chapter 6.

1 Corinthians 7:4 NASB “The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.”

1 Corinthians 7:34 NASB “and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.”

1 Corinthians 9:27 NASB but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”

These last three are all the individual human body.

1 Corinthians 10:16 NASB “Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?”

Because of the reference to the blood of Christ, this likely refers to the actual body of Christ, connected back to the cross. The cup and the bread were representative of the biological body and blood of Christ that hung on the cross. It could be a reference to the church body, but the “blood of Christ” is not a corporate church reference, so the grammar strongly suggests it is Jesus’ actual human body on the cross.

1 Corinthians 10:17 NASB “Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread.”

Now Paul introduces the church as the body of Christ for the first time in the letter.

1 Corinthians 11:24, 27, 29 NASB “and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ (27) Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. (29) For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly.”

Back to the actual body of Christ (some see “the body” of vs 29 as the church body, but the antecedent referent to “body” belongs to Christ’s own personal body.

1 Corinthians 12:12 NASB “For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.”

There are 18 uses of the word “body” in chapter 12. I will not list them all. We will just look at this first one, and admit that all those that follow continue the same thought. This text is referring to the church as a corporate body.

It’s important to note here that the first two uses of “the body” in vs. 12 refers to the individual human body as a reference in this teaching. This is connected to the previous verse: (11) NASB “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.”

Throughout this chapter, Paul uses parts of the individual human body for illustration of the church as the body of Christ. The human body was of such common thought in Greek culture that it was a logical starting point for teaching about how they needed to get along as a church with all their different spiritual gifts.

1 Corinthians 13:3 NASB “And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.”

This is Paul’s human body, again.

1 Corinthians 15:35 NASB “But someone will say, ‘How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?’”

Obviously we can see that Paul did not consistently apply a corporate meaning to the word “body” in 1 Corinthians. In fact, he overwhelmingly uses the individual human body, and uses the corporate meaning for the first time in chapter 10. The problem of claiming that chapter 15’s use of “body” follows Paul’s “corporate body” flow of thought is further undermined by the fact that Paul returns to the common usage of “body” in chapter 13 as the human body. The continuity argument favors the individual view, not the corporate. Chapter 12 is not defining the word “body,” which was already used 16 time prior to ch. 12 with the already understood meaning of the human body.

Yet even in chapter 12 the teaching is not really about defining what a “corporate body” is, but rather is on correcting certain people’s behavior in the assembly with their individual spiritual gifts, using the human body as a teaching tool for church behavior (“the ear should not say to the eye,” etc.)

Contrary to what is claimed, the evidence shows that a “corporate body” is not the theme of “body” in the entire letter. In fact, it is barely a theme at all except as a pericope in chapter 12 for the proper use of gifts in the assembly.

2 Corinthians 3-5 and Covenant Transition

It is claimed by CBV adherents that covenant transition is the primary topic under consideration in 2 Cor. 3-5. Specifically, it is posited that since covenant transition is directly mentioned in chapter 3, that aspect defines what Paul meant in chapters 4 and 5 regarding “the body.” It is true that covenant transition is directly referred to in chapter 3; however, it is wrong to apply this to every aspect of what Paul said in this section of text, as we will see next.

The letters of 1 & 2 Corinthians have been widely noted and accepted as demonstrating Paul’s command in writing in Greek rhetoric (Witherington III, Conflict and Community). This knowledge is well known today by scholars who have studied contemporary Greek writings and compared them to Paul’s letters. 1 & 2 Corinthians are very Greek letters written to a very Hellenistic audience or ones well versed in Greek rhetoric, who could respond to Paul’s ethos and pathos evident throughout the letters. After 2 Corinthians begins with a thanksgiving and an exordium (an exordium is the beginning part aimed at making the audience open to what follows) in 1:3-7, Paul moves into the narratio in 1:8—2:16. The narratio is where the rhetor states the facts of the case that were at issue or the main questions under debate. According to Witherington,

“Paul…chooses to build up goodwill and compassion in the narratio by dealing with less crucial charges such as possible dishonesty about his travel plans, his sternness in the painful letter toward the one who had offended him, and his supposed lack of love and concern for the Corinthians. These are important issues and Paul will return to them later in the “argument” section of the discourse, but it is clear from 2:17 and what follows in 3:1—6:13 that the major issue is the legitimacy of Paul’s ministry. It is above all else that this is in question in Corinth and therefore also this letter.” (Emphasis mine)

Chapter 2 verse 17 is the propositio. In forensic rhetoric, the propositio is the statement to be proved true or false by the arguments that follow. Paul wrote, “For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.” Here, Paul denies the charge of being a false ambassador of Christ and the most critical part of that charge, that he has been untrustworthy of the Corinthian’s money.

Again quoting Witherington,

“Paul’s basic rhetorical strategy seems to be that at the beginning of the probatio (3:1—6:13) [the probatio brings in arguments to support the debater’s case-JK] he will compare his ministry with that of Moses and on that basis develop arguments to show why he should be seen as a true minister of the gospel or ambassador of Christ and thus should be reconciled to and recognized by his Corinthian converts.”

Baird is right when he says,

“[The] central concern of 2 Corinthians … is the discussion of apostolic authority, and it is in this light that 2 Cor 3:1-3 must be viewed. When this is done, it will be evident that Paul’s [main] concern in this context is not with a covenant written on the hearts of his parishioners, but with his own experience of commission in that covenant’s ministry.” (“Letters of Recommendation,” pg. 172)

This all makes great sense, especially as we move into chapters 4 and 5 which is where the CBV starts to fall apart. In 4:7-9, Paul gives a catalog of trials that he has endured, consisting of eight present tense middle or passive voice participles in four contrasting pairs linked by all’ ouk (“but not”). Again quoting Witherington,

“It is in set pieces like this that we see Paul’s rhetorical skills most clearly. For example, the second pair “perplexed but not totally perplexed” contains a pun of both sound and content. One could be distressed without being totally desperate. He has been hard pressed but not at his wit’s end; at a loss but no completely lost; persecuted, abandoned, and knocked down, but not knocked out. Taken as a whole, this catalog suggests that Paul’s vessel has plenty of cracks but is still intact, which suggests miraculous preservation.”

Then in the very next verse (4:10), William Bell and other CBV advocates claim that “always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body” refers to the corporate body, not the bodies of Paul or the other apostles. Which corporate body that is, the Church or dead Israel, he has struggled to state clearly as seen in at least two different Preterist Pilgrim Weekend discussions (2008 and 2014) on the topic.

Notice the surrounding context:

2 Corinthians 4:7-12 NASB “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; (8) we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; (9) persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; (10) always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. (11) For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. (12) So death works in us, but life in you.”

CBV adherents claim that Paul and the other apostles were in the dying corporate body of Israel, while the Corinthians (composed of both Jews and Greeks) were in the living body of Christ. This argument is made on two main points: that chapter 3 introduces a covenant transition theme, and that Paul used the singular form of “body.”

The covenant transition aspect of Ch. 3 was noted above, and is not denied. However, covenant transition does not demand a corporate understanding of “body,” particularly when seen within the entire construct of Paul’s rhetorical argument. And, we have already seen how the construct “our body” (plural possessive pronoun with a singular noun) does not demand in Greek that a singular body is in view.

Look at chapter 4 verse 10, and ask yourself: if the corporate body view is correct, then how many different corporate bodies are in this text? (Go ahead and pause and reread that verse.)

Notice how both the dying of Jesus and the life of Jesus was on display in the “body” (singular noun with a plural pronoun) of the apostles. Is this the individual bodies of the apostles, or the corporate body to which they belonged?

Bell argues the latter (he must, for if he doesn’t then he gives up the farm). But, to which corporate body did the apostles belong? Did they belong to two corporate bodies at the same time, or to just one corporate body that was both dying and rising at the same time? Was the dying of Jesus in the “body of Israel” but the life of Jesus in the “body of the church”? Or are they both in the “body of Israel?” They can’t be both be in the “body of the church” since that creates a problem for what body the Corinthians are in (“death works in us [apostles] but life works in you [Corinthians]”).

The fact that this gets convoluted, and CBV adherents have had a tough time making sense of this passage, indicates to me that violence is being done to the text. This is a clear case of trying to force a square peg into a round hole because of a preconceived notion that every use of “body” must be corporate.

When one approaches the text without preconceived notions or trying to force in a view that admittedly is difficult, it becomes easy to see that Paul’s point was that the life of martyrdom (which Christ exhibited in his life) was on display in the apostles (and especially in Paul’s!), but the resurrected life of Christ was also at work in their lives so that this life could also be at work in the Corinthians. Paul was personally and physically persecuted, and was carrying around in his own body the marks of such persecution.

In refutation of an individual body view of this text, CBV adherents says there cannot be an actual “outer man” and “inner man” for each individual in 4:16, because this is Platonism and would be far from the Hebraic view of man. I’ll have more to say about this later, but for now will make a brief comment.

CBV advocates are correct that many modern and post-modern commentators do indeed take the position that this is talking about the human body (the “outer”) in contrast to the soul (the “inner”). But the text, while sounding Platonic, is actually in my studied opinion closer to Stoicism than it is Platonism or Neo-Platonism.

First, the most up to date scholarship shows that Platonism was not in vogue in the first century (see A.A. Long, “Hellenistic Philosophy”; M.V. Lee, “Paul, the Stoics, and the Body of Christ”; and Rasimus, Engberg-Pederson, and Dunderberg, “Stoicism in Early Christianity”). Second, while Platonists did see the body as a shell with a trapped soul inside (they strongly contrasted the material with the immaterial), the Stoics did not see the body as a shell or that the soul was trapped inside it. Stoicism, according to the scholars above, was the dominant Greek worldview of the first century. For Stoics, “body” represented whole of the person, unified by one common thing: pneuma (Greek for “spirit”). They believed that there was a visible body on earth made of the elements and pneuma, and that after someone died all that remained was their pneuma (spirit). In this understanding, most in Paul’s Corinthian audience would have quickly seen this as meaning that the biological bodies of the apostles were under extreme duress, but their pneuma (spirit) was being renewed by the Holy Spirit day by day (4:13-14). This renewal of their spirit is in fact a precursor for Paul’s “new creation” in 5:17.

Notice that the “afflictions” (4:17) which Paul and the other evangelists were receiving were not merely some kind of “covenantal afflictions” – they certainly were afflicted because of their covenant status with Christ – but these were real afflictions received on the human body (“manifested in our mortal flesh”). See Acts 14:9f and 16:22f for two examples of afflictions Paul received prior to writing 1 and 2 Corinthians.

It is on the heels of this section on the physical abuses of Paul’s body that Chapter 5 presents a solution to the problem.

This chapter is argued quite diligently by CBV advocates that this is only a covenant status change for the body of Israel into the body of Christ. Word comparisons of “tent,” “building,” “house,” “not made with hands,” “naked,” “clothing,” “dwelling,” are made to show how the words applied to both the old covenant nation of Israel and their tabernacle/temple arrangement and to the new covenant church. Clearly those words were used that way (e.g., Eph. 2:14-22; 1 Peter 2:5). That those words are used elsewhere pertaining to the new covenant body of Christ is not denied. But, does that usage require its meaning here? I argue that it does not.

First, let’s look at 2 Corinthians 5:1-4 in Young’s Literal Translation:

“For we have known that if our earthly house of the tabernacle may be thrown down, a building from God we have, an house not made with hands–age-during–in the heavens, (2) for also in this we groan, with our dwelling that is from heaven earnestly desiring to clothe ourselves, (3) if so be that, having clothed ourselves, we shall not be found naked, (4) for we also who are in the tabernacle do groan, being burdened, seeing we wish not to unclothe ourselves, but to clothe ourselves, that the mortal may be swallowed up of the life.”

Notice how vs 1 starts: “For.” That’s a conjunction that bridges the thought from the previous verses, which was regarding the physical persecutions and death the apostles and evangelists were undergoing.

Next, let’s look at 2 Peter 1:13-14 again in Young’s Literal:

“and I think right, so long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up in reminding you, (14) having known that soon is the laying aside of my tabernacle, even as also our Lord Jesus Christ did shew to me,”

Peter used the same noun, skenoo, in the specific context of his impending death as did Paul in referencing the earthly house that he and the other apostles undergoing afflictions would put off. In 2 Peter the actual Greek word is skenomati, a dative singular noun used because of the reference to time (“soon”), and in 2 Cor. 5 it is skenous, a genitive singular noun used to emphasize something everyone in his audience possesses.

Let’s continue with 2 Corinthians.

2 Corinthians 5:6-10 NASB (6) “Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord– (7) for we walk by faith, not by sight– (8) we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. (9) Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. (10) For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”

Notice in 5:10 that each person (“each one,” “he”) is recompensed for what each has done “in the body.” This is referring to each person’s body. This individual aspect to judgment and recompense for what is done in the body is important to Paul’s point about how the apostles were being persecuted for the sakes of both Christ and the Corinthians. And as we already noticed, judgment and recompense for each individual was part of Paul’s admonition in 1 Cor. 6:18 (“the sexually immoral man sins against his own body”).

But maybe the biggest problem in the CBV interpretation of this text is the logical conundrum created if the “body” is the corporate body of Israel/Moses. Paul preached that being in Christ, one had died to the Law or the old “body.”

Romans 7:4-6 (ESV) “Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. (5) For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. (6) But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.”

It is clear from this text that it would be impossible for Paul to be “at home” in the body of Moses since he had already died to it.

Some CBV advocates might argue that as an apostle, as one still ministering to Israel (e.g. 1 Cor. 9:20), Paul was still tied to “the body of Moses,” because the old covenant had not fully disappeared (Heb. 8:13) and was still in transition (2 Cor. 3:18). Those things would be true, but they do not prove that the “body” and the “home” Paul had in mind was the old covenant body of Moses. Paul already was released from the old covenant by the power of Christ’s resurrection, as we just saw here in Rom. 7 and also in Phil. 3:8-10.

Earlier in 2 Cor. 5, Paul mentioned the words “torn down,” “groan,” “longing.” The context, as we’ve already seen, is on the physical abuses and persecution he was undergoing. It makes much more logical sense to see Paul longing to be done with his physical sufferings and to be with Christ, than it does to see Paul groaning to be out of the old covenant, since that fate was already sealed in Paul’s past. We also should connect Paul’s “groaning” here with Romans 8 –

Romans 8:18 NASB “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is [about] to be revealed to us.”

Romans 8:23 NASB “And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.”

Paul’s Greek audience in Corinth would immediately understand his phrases “not being found naked,” and “not be unclothed but further clothed” to mean that he would rather live up to the time of the resurrection instead of being found in the intermediate state that one would be in Hades if he died before it; yet he also longs to be done with these persecutions immediately and be resting with the Lord.

That being true, Paul sums up by saying that whichever way it works out, he will stay courageous, knowing that he and everyone else must appear before the judgment seat of Christ. This point about the judgment seat is important, because elsewhere (Dan. 7:9-10, Rev. 20:11-12) we see that this judgment takes place in heaven (not on earth). This Second Temple Apocalyptic theme of a heavenly judgment makes the view that this is merely (only) about the legal transition of covenants extremely tenuous.

“The Hope of Israel”

Another CBV argument is that Paul preached the hope of Israel, which was “nothing other than the Law and the Prophets” (Acts 23:6; 24:14-15; 26:6-8, 22-23). This is absolutely true. But does this mean that the only resurrection predicted in the Law and the Prophets was a corporate resurrection? Was this the only hope of Israel? No, this was not the only resurrection in the Law and Prophets, and it was not the only hope of Israel.

In the Acts passages listed above, “the dead ones” that Paul mentioned were actual already dead people in Hades. In 23:6, he cries out “I am on trial for the hope and resurrection of the dead!” as a tactic in his defense to set the Sadducees against the Pharisees. To what degree Paul agreed with the Pharisees about the resurrection is not said, only that he believed and hoped there would be one. (The identity of “the dead” as dead people in Hades rather than spiritual dead Israelites under the Old Covenant will be proved later; for now it is sufficient to show that the understanding of the Pharisees that Paul appealed to was to biologically dead people, whether Paul agreed with them or not.)

The “resurrection of the righteous and the wicked” in Acts 24:15 echoes back to Daniel 12:2, where resurrection was not described as a “corporate body” but as “many” dead people including the individual Daniel himself. Daniel hoped that he himself would be raised unto his inheritance at the end of the age (Dan. 12:13).

When Jesus discussed the resurrection of the dead with the Pharisees in Matt. 22:23-33, he said: “And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: (32) ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” (ESV) Jesus individually mentioned these three dead OT saints as ones who would participate in “the resurrection of the dead.”

Martha clearly had a hope in an individual resurrection of the dead on the “last day,” and Jesus himself confirmed it without correction:

John 11:23-26 (ESV) “Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ (24) Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ (25) Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, (26) and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?’”

Notice the singular pronoun, “he” in the phrase “though he die,” referring to both Lazarus and also any other individual from then until the end-of-the-age-Resurrection who would believe in Jesus but biologically die before the resurrection occurred. Indeed, this is a critically important passage for supporting the grass-roots importance of individual resurrection for new covenant theology: even Jesus weeps over the individual! Though most all Jews were desirous of the reestablishment of the nation of Israel under the Messiah, the deepest concern of Jewish believers was not “will all Israel be raised,” but “will he/she/I be raised.” (For more on the Hope of Israel, please see my lecture “Exploring the Hope of Israel” from the 2014 Preterist Pilgrim Weekend conference, available from Don Preston.)

One of the problems with the CBV is that, whether intended or not, it sees the restoration of Israel into a new covenant people as an end unto itself. Often times this results in some believing that redemption in this life alone is the full expression of the prophets, with nothing specific about the afterlife of anyone other than a couple of inferences here and there. We are supposed to derive the “implications” of an afterlife from this covenant standing, but no one can say to any degree what that is. This is surprising, given how in the first century, the vast majority of all Jewish and Greek writings were fixated on what would become of life after death. For those in the CBV who disagree, I would ask them to list which passages discuss the afterlife and whether or not they see resurrection as anything beyond a corporate issue, specifically pertaining to individuals in Sheol/Hades. I certainly want to be fair, and not paint everyone under a broad stroke.

In contrast, a focus on the individual person can be seen as the core of Jesus’ teaching, from the Sermon on the Mountain where he espouses individual responsibility, to apostolic descriptions of living as individual priests, to being raised as individuals like Daniel, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were. God fulfilled his promise of restoration to Israel, but that restoration transcended the corporate and ultimately pointed to the individual. In fact, one might argue that the story of the once-for-all corporate salvation of Israel pointed to individual salvation of each person coming into the kingdom for ages without end. Without including the individual body component to the covenantal transition, we do disservice to the power of God to incorporate these two elements together (the promise to resurrect Israel as a nation and to resurrect biologically dead individuals from Sheol).

Defining “the dead”

With this assessment, we come back to 1 Corinthians 15 and ask the question, who were “the dead (ones)?” Some Corinthians were saying “there is no resurrection of the dead” (15:12), so clearly we need to see what or who “the dead” were in order to draw a conclusion. This is important to ask because CBV advocates argue that “the dead” are not specifically biologically dead people in the grave or in Hades (though it might include them), but rather are the spiritually (or covenantally) dead, specifically those in old covenant Israel who were dead via the Law of Moses.

The argument is advanced that there were “some” in Corinth who were denying participation in Christ to the Jews, that they had missed out on the blessings of Christ, therefore they would not be raised into the body of Christ (see Sam Frost’s audio “Lectures on 1 Corinthians 15” and his book “Exegetical Essays on the Resurrection”).

I wanted to do an exhaustive search to see how the phrase “the dead” was most commonly used to see if it will shed a light on 1 Cor. 15. First I looked at the Old Testament, and searched for all uses of “the dead.” Excluding references to animals, I found 39 uses. They mostly were all references to either corpses after a battle or in a grave, or departed spirits in Sheol. A few did not specifically say spirits but simply referred to people who had died. All the uses I cite use the Hebrew word muth which is typical Hebrew word for die/death/the dead. It is the root word found in Genesis 2 and 3 pertaining to Adam’s sin. Here are some examples (I will not list all):

Numbers 16:48 ESV And he stood between the dead and the living, and the plague was stopped.

Deuteronomy 18:11 ESV or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead,

Judges 16:30 ESV And Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines.” Then he bowed with all his strength, and the house fell upon the lords and upon all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he had killed during his life.

2 Samuel 14:2 ESV And Joab sent to Tekoa and brought from there a wise woman and said to her, “Pretend to be a mourner and put on mourning garments. Do not anoint yourself with oil, but behave like a woman who has been mourning many days for the dead.

Psalms 88:5 ESV like one set loose among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, like those whom you remember no more, for they are cut off from your hand.

Psalms 88:10 ESV Do you work wonders for the dead? Do the departed rise up to praise you? Selah.

Psalms 115:17 ESV The dead do not praise the LORD, nor do any who go down into silence.

Ecclesiastes 9:5 ESV For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten.

Isaiah 8:19 ESV And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living?

Isaiah 14:9 ESV Sheol beneath is stirred up to meet you when you come; it rouses the shades [Heb. rephaim] to greet you, all who were leaders of the earth; it raises from their thrones all who were kings of the nations. [“the shades” is not the Hebrew word muth but it is related as the next verse shows]

Isaiah 26:14 ESV They are [the] dead, they will not live; they are shades, they will not arise; to that end you have visited them with destruction and wiped out all remembrance of them.

Ezekiel 24:17 ESV Sigh, but not aloud; make no mourning for the dead. Bind on your turban, and put your shoes on your feet; do not cover your lips, nor eat the bread of men.”

As you can see, in not one instance is “covenantal death” the meaning. These texts are all specific to dead people as spirits or corpses. If anyone thinks I have omitted passages that do demonstrate that the Hebrew word “the dead” are biologically alive but covenantally dead people, I welcome the input (again, recall my admission for a covenant death for Ephraim/northern Israel in Hosea, though they aren’t called “the dead”).

Turning to the New Testament, I wanted to narrow the search to the specific phrase “from the dead,” with a focus on resurrection or being raised. This phrase is found 53 times in 52 verses. Here are all 53 examples:

Matthew 14:2 NASB and said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.”

Matthew 17:9 NASB As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man has risen from the dead.”

Matthew 27:64 NASB “Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may come and steal Him away and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.”

Matthew 28:7 NASB “Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.”

Mark 6:14 NASB And King Herod heard of it, for His name had become well known; and people were saying, “John the Baptist has risen from the dead, and that is why these miraculous powers are at work in Him.”

Mark 9:9-10 ESV And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. (10) They seized upon that statement, discussing with one another what rising from the dead meant.

Mark 12:25 NASB “For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

Luke 9:7 NASB Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was happening; and he was greatly perplexed, because it was said by some that John had risen from the dead,

Luke 16:30 NASB “But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’

Luke 16:31 NASB “But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.'”

Luke 20:35 NASB but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage;

Luke 24:46 NASB and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day,

John 2:22 NASB So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.

John 12:1 NASB Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.

John 12:9 NASB The large crowd of the Jews then learned that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He raised from the dead.

John 12:17 NASB So the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead, continued to testify about Him.

John 20:9 NASB For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.

John 21:14 NASB This is now the third time that Jesus was manifested to the disciples, after He was raised from the dead.

Acts 3:15 NASB but put to death the Prince of life, the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses.

Acts 4:2 NASB being greatly disturbed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.

Acts 4:10 NASB let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead–by this name this man stands here before you in good health.

Acts 10:41 NASB not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead.

Acts 13:30-31 NASB “But God raised Him from the dead; (31) and for many days He appeared to those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, the very ones who are now His witnesses to the people.

Acts 13:34 NASB “As for the fact that He raised Him up from the dead, no longer to return to decay, He has spoken in this way: ‘I WILL GIVE YOU THE HOLY and SURE blessings OF DAVID.’

Acts 17:3 NASB explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.”

Acts 17:31 NASB because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.

Acts 26:23 ESV that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.” [I used the ESV here because the NASB does a terrible job translating this verse]

Romans 1:4 NASB who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord,

Romans 4:24 NASB but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead,

Romans 6:4 NASB Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

Romans 6:9 NASB knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him.

Romans 6:13 NASB and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

Romans 7:4 NASB Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.

Romans 8:11 NASB But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

Romans 10:7 NASB or ‘WHO WILL DESCEND INTO THE ABYSS?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).”

Romans 10:9 NASB that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;

Romans 11:15 NASB For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?

1 Corinthians 15:12 NASB Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?

1 Corinthians 15:20 NASB But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.

Galatians 1:1 NASB Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead),

Ephesians 1:20 NASB which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,

Ephesians 5:14 NASB For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.”

Philippians 3:10-11 NASB that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; (11) in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Colossians 1:18 NASB He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.

Colossians 2:12 NASB having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.

1 Thessalonians 1:10 NASB and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.

2 Timothy 2:8 NASB Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel,

Hebrews 11:17-19 NASB By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; (18) it was he to whom it was said, “IN ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS SHALL BE CALLED.” (19) He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.

Hebrews 13:20 NASB Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord,

1 Peter 1:3 NASB Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

1 Peter 1:21 NASB who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

I know that was a lot of reading, but it was necessary to demonstrate the obvious truth that “the dead” were in every situation but three a reference to previously biologically dead people, most often being Jesus. Eph. 5:11 is clearly referring to spiritual death or sin death. In the other two (Rom. 6:14, Rom. 11:15), they could be seen as arguing that the Romans should be acting holy in regards to personal sinning as though they had been resurrected either out from sin-death, or out from the afterlife realm of the dead, or both.

Someone might respond that Jesus’ death and resurrection was not merely biological but was of great spiritual and covenantal importance. Indeed it was! Such meaning can be found in some of the passages above like Colossians 1:18 and 1 Peter 1:3. Does this mean that “raised Him from the dead” did not mean that Jesus was raised personally, individually from Hades and the grave? Absolutely not. In fact, in the vast majority of these references, they were about people witnessing Jesus in Jerusalem after his resurrection. For example, if you look at Matt. 27:64, where the chief priests and scribes use the phrase “he has risen from the dead,” they clearly weren’t worried about the disciples claiming that he overcame sin-death, but were singularly worried about the claim that he came back from biological death.

The point is, one cannot claim that the most common use of “the dead” in either the OT or NT was only or primarily referring to spiritual death. The overwhelming use pertains to the biologically dead, to ones in (or in the case of Jesus, formerly in) Hades.

In Adam or in Christ?

You can’t have a discussion of “the dead” without looking at the “death” of Adam. A very important part of the argument for a corporate body view of “the dead” in 1 Cor. 15 is the relationship with Adam (15:21, 22, 45). Because Adam died “the day he ate,” the very day his “eyes were opened,” it must have been a spiritual (covenantal) death not a biological death, since he went on to live for hundreds of years more. Therefore, the death being overcome in 1 Cor. 15 cannot be biological death but must be “covenantal death,” i.e. the death of Adam, according to the CBV.

Of course, I agree that biological death was not the death Adam incurred the day he ate. I also agree that it was not a consequence of Adam’s sin, nor is it what is being “ended” in 1 Cor. 15. I believe that biological death existed before the time of Adam, and this death was the known foundation upon which the idea of a covenantal separation or death would have been understood.

Clearly there are references in the NT to the “spiritually dead” who were still biologically alive (e.g., John 5:24f). That said, many CBV advocates fail to see the other side of the coin in Adam’s death, which is detention in some sort of realm of the dead (“Sheol” or “Hades”) as a consequence of the staining of sin against a holy God. It is this other part of the story that we see throughout the rest of the bible. It is a grave concern (no pun intended) for many of God’s people. Had Adam not sinned, it is reasonable to conclude (as most covenant eschatology and covenant creation preterists do) that Adam would have gone on to live in heaven after his biological death.

Notice some passages which reflect this concern about what happens after death:

Job 7:7-10 ESV “Remember that my life is a breath; my eye will never again see good. (8) The eye of him who sees me will behold me no more; while your eyes are on me, I shall be gone. (9) As the cloud fades and vanishes, so he who goes down to Sheol does not come up; (10) he returns no more to his house, nor does his place know him anymore.”

Job 14:7-14 ESV “For there is hope for a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease. (8) Though its root grow old in the earth, and its stump die in the soil, (9) yet at the scent of water it will bud and put out branches like a young plant. (10) But a man dies and is laid low; man breathes his last, and where is he? (11) As waters fail from a lake and a river wastes away and dries up, (12) so a man lies down and rises not again; till the heavens are no more he will not awake or be roused out of his sleep. (13) Oh that you would hide me in Sheol, that you would conceal me until your wrath be past, that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me! (14) If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my service I would wait, till my renewal should come.”

Psalms 22:29 ESV All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, even the one who could not keep himself alive.

Psalms 49:7-11, 14-15 ESV Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, (8) for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, (9) that he should live on forever and never see the pit. (10) For he sees that even the wise die; the fool and the stupid alike must perish and leave their wealth to others. (11) Their graves are their homes forever, their dwelling places to all generations, though they called lands by their own names. (14) Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol; death shall be their shepherd, and the upright shall rule over them in the morning. Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell. (15) But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me. Selah.

The “death” that these people were afraid of was at the outset biological death, but what really concerned them was never returning from Sheol. Hope of this glimmers in Job and Psalms (and possibly to Abraham), but is not revealed until much later in the prophets and finally the Apostles:

Hebrews 2:14-18 ESV Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, (15) and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. (16) For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. (17) Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. (18) For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

So while Adam’s death was a “fellowship” death that very day based on his sin, the consequence (and remedy) of that death is the story of the rest of Scripture. How would this be fixed? It would be fixed by God becoming like his brothers in every respect, sharing in flesh and blood, and overcoming death in all its aspects, both covenantal and biological. Why fear biological death? Because it was the moment when the ultimate price would be paid for sin – separation from God. As long as one was still alive, they had “coverings” allowing them to be in the limited presence of God. This is the other side of the “death” coin that the CBV often misses.

Now, the Resurrection of “the dead” in 1 Cor. 15

Sam Frost makes the argument (based on Max King) that the problem that Paul was dealing with in Romans (specifically 11:11-24) – that some Gentiles were claiming that Jews were cut off so that they could be grafted in – is the same problem in 1 Corinthians. Some Gentiles, Frost says, were of the “Paul party” while some Jews were of the “Peter party” (citing 1 Cor. 1:12). The argument is that some Gentiles in Corinth were denying total participation in (soteriological) resurrection life for the Jews, who were “dead” because they were under the Law (Old Covenant) which brought death. This therefore identifies “the dead” as not the biologically dead in the Hadean realm, but the covenantally dead under the Law.

I have two problems with this view. First, the Gentiles in Rome were not denying participation in Christ to all Jews (meaning, to those who were believers in Christ and in the church), but rather to all the remaining Jews who had not believed (those who were “broken off for their unbelief”). Second, and more importantly, there is no indication that Paul was addressing this concern at any point in 1 Corinthians. The “I am of Cephas, I am of Apollos,” et. al. remarks were not based on Jew/Gentile distinctions, but on personal preferences in styles of preaching and rhetoric for the different evangelists, as clearly seen in 1:17 to 4:21.

Frost then argues that Paul makes a “modus tollens” argument (I’ll explain “modus tollens” shortly) in 1 Cor. 15:12-19, which establishes that the resurrection deniers were not denying resurrection to themselves, to Jesus or to those asleep in Jesus, but only to some other group called “the dead” (i.e. the Jews, according to Frost). The modus tollens is an “if then” argument. “If p, then q; q is not, therefore p is not.” “If the dead are not raised, then Christ is not raised.” “If the dead are not raised, then you (Corinthians) are still in your sins.” Gordon Fee in his commentary on Corinthians raised this issue which Frost borrowed to make his argument. According to Frost, in order for this modus tollens argument to work on the Corinthians, they would have to reject the “q” or the consequences (they are still in their sins, Jesus hasn’t been raised, etc.), in order to change their belief on “p” (that the dead are not raised).

I agree that Paul used a modus tollens argument to demonstrate the absurdity (reductio ad absurdum) of the Corinthians belief that “the dead are not raised.” However, there is a problem with Frost’s leap of claiming Israel was the only group being denied resurrection. If we eliminate the groups of people to whom all the negative consequences towards resurrection apply (Christ, and those asleep in Christ), and accept that the Corinthian resurrection deniers were not denying Christ’s resurrection nor that of those asleep in Christ, then who does that leave? It leaves more than just the Jews. It would actually be for everyone who died before Christ. Resurrection was for all of the just and the unjust (John 5:28-29; Rev. 20:11-13), not just the Jews.

It is more logical to see that these Greeks in Corinth inconsistently believed that Christ was raised, while at the same time denied that anyone else would be raised. It makes more sense that the “some” who were denying the “resurrection of the dead” were the typical Greeks of the day who held that there is no resurrection of the dead. The dead either live forever in Hades as “shades,” or their “pneuma” (spirit) returns to the heavens (stars) since that is the material that the stars were made of. One of the common cosmological views of the day did allow for special heroes, kings and warriors to be resurrected, though this was a very rare occasion, so it would be possible for a Hellenistic Corinthian to believe that Jesus was raised but not anyone else. Corinth was only 40 miles from Athens, and we recall how the idea of the resurrection of Jesus was ridiculed in Athens in Acts 17:16-34. What was taught in Athens was also taught in Corinth, so it is much more plausible that we have Greeks in Corinth who were denying the general concept of resurrection from the dead for everyone. Paul employs at least two quotes from Greek philosophers (vs. 32-33), so it is not likely that the deniers were Jewish Sadducees since quoting Greek philosophers would hardly be effective. (For more information on common Greek views of the afterlife, see: “From Grave to Glory: Resurrection in the New Testament” by Murry J. Harris.)

Paul, in my mind, was talking to rookie Christians who became so by believing in the resurrected Christ. But, they didn’t realize the implications of their new belief. Though their former belief systems of Stoicism and Epicureanism didn’t believe in resurrection (and I think the first portion of Paul’s argument is more tightly focused on the former Epicureans), they had accepted the resurrection of Christ in order to become

Christians. What they hadn’t realized is that if they accepted this, then by implication they are accepting resurrection of everyone else as well.

So, in my opinion, Paul’s logic in the chapter unfolds like this:

  1. (v. 1-11) He reiterates the gospel that he used to save them (former Stoics and Epicureans), including Hebrew Scriptures as well as eye witness proof that Christ was in fact raised.
  2. (v. 12) He recognizes that some of them don’t believe in the resurrection of dead people.
  3. (v. 13-15) He points out that if Christ is in fact raised then so is everyone else.
  4. (v. 16-28) His logic loops around a few times to prove the universality of resurrection.
  5. (v. 29-34) He goes on to address specific problems that Epicureans would have had with their new religion.
  6. (v. 35-49) He then adopts and reimages some Stoic cosmological assumptions to explain the true nature of resurrection.
  7. (v. 50-58) He completes the task by showing how this is all the culmination of the expectation in the Hebrew scripture.

If there is one thing CBV advocates cannot do, it is explain why there is so much overlap between Epicurean and Stoic worldview in this chapter. If the trick to Paul is to figure out the hidden 1/2 of the phone conversation, then I don’t think you can figure out 1 Cor. 15 without engaging those groups. Clearly, in that part of the world, the majority of pagan converts would have come from those groups.

One last thing before moving on. Notice 1 Cor. 15:32, which is an Epicurean maxim (and is quoted in the

LXX version of Isa. 22:13):

(ESV) (32) What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

The death of “tomorrow” for Paul was not spiritual or covenantal death, it was clearly biological death. That was the context for Epicureans, and also was the context in Isaiah. This solidifies that “the dead” for Paul and the Corinthians were those who had died biologically and were in Hades, not the spiritually dead people of the old covenant.

A Solution to the Problem

It is important to understand what prompted Max King to develop the concept of a corporate body resurrection. First, from sources I have spoken with who were involved in the movement when it first began, there was much confusion on how to understand “resurrection” in the early days. Max King, being from the heritage I was in from birth (the Churches of Christ, in which I was a 4th generation minister), focused on the spiritual aspect of the kingdom and rebirth/regeneration/resurrection (e.g., Romans 6). I know all too well that it was common in our fellowship to focus on the spiritual kingdom since we were battling from our pulpits since at least the 1930’s against premillennialism.

If the resurrection of the dead happened in AD70, and graves still existed, there is a need to explain how an invisible (“spiritual”) resurrection took place that isn’t “physical.” The early pioneers wrestled with how to explain this from a preterist perspective. Max relied heavily on the book “The Body” by John A.T. Robinson; it is referenced throughout King’s massive “The Cross and the Parousia” (a work I have plunged into several times over the last 9 years).

Robinson’s “The Body” takes the basic approach that there were two different concepts of the body – a Greek one and a Jewish one. The Greek one according to Robinson (who quotes another) is that man was described as “an angel in a slot machine, a soul incarcerated into a frame of matter” (pg. 14). The Hebrew one was that man was “an animated body, not an incarcerated soul” (pg. 14). It was argued that the Greeks had a Platonic view of man, whereas the Hebrews had a holistic view of man connected to his community. Therefore Robinson presented only two real concrete ideas of a bodily resurrection for King to plug into a preterist view: either the body was the shell of human (the flesh), or it was a collective group of people (here, the “body of Christ).

The result was a view (current CBV) that every single eschatological instance of “the resurrection of the dead ones” in scripture has not to do with what is happening to dead people coming out of Hades at the great judgment in AD70, but only of the covenant transition away from the Law of Moses via the lens of spiritual regeneration and restoration of fellowship.

Scholars today (Engberg-Pederson, Long, M. Lee, Rasimus, Dunderberg, D. Martin, et. al) claim that Robinson’s depiction of Greek and Hebrew cosmologies incorrectly described those of the first century. Not only did Robinson’s view ignore the diversity within ancient Judaism, as well as that many Jews such as Philo of Alexandria held very Platonic concepts of the “body,” it also was based on questionable assumptions about Greco-Roman culture; mainly, that the Greek culture of Jesus and Paul shared our modern Cartesian dichotomies of body and soul, which we now know are false.

Platonism had waned before the first century began. Around the century before Christ and at its peak during the time of Christ, the Roman world accepted the basic worldview of Stoics (and to a lesser degree, the Epicureans and Skeptics). This doesn’t mean they practiced Stoicism or Epicureanism, but that how they came to understand the nature of man and the universe was couched in basic terms developed by these Greek thinkers. It was common “scientific” language on the street throughout the Empire. It would be as common to them as gravity or a superficial understanding of the Theory of Relativity is to us today. Just because everyone today knows what gravity is doesn’t mean everyone is a physicist. The same was true in the first century with Stoic and Epicurean cosmology.

In Stoicism, the word “pneuma” (spirit) was the most refined, pure material that held all things together, and in large enough quantities became a sort of life force. Humans had far more and better pneuma than rocks. God (or the gods) had a perfect quality of pneuma. This overlapped to a large extent with the Hebrew concept of spirit (“ruach”) being the breath of God, etc.

I propose a solution to the problem. Forcing a corporate body into all the uses of “body” in resurrection of the dead contexts clearly does not work. A body of flesh resurrection does not work for a variety of historical, archeological and theological reasons within a preterist schema. But a resurrection of a body made solely of pneuma does work on all levels theological, grammatical and historical.

When dealing with Greeks, Paul could draw on the Stoic system of physics to explain the Hebraic concept of pneuma as an animating force as well as a physical element of a person’s body. For example, notice how Jesus used pneuma in his discussion with Nicodemus:

John 3:8 ESV “The wind [Greek: pneuma] blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit [pneuma].”

Notice the same Greek word underlies the translators’ words “wind” and “Spirit.” Pneuma would have been sort of like the rarest, highest quality gas that represented the person’s body in the invisible realm. As a person became a Christian he was issued God’s pneuma. When God’s pneuma interacted with a given Christian’s pneuma it renovated it and became the source for a kind of “empowering datalink” if you will between not only God and man, but a Christian and another Christian.

The idea of being indwelt by Christ, Christ becoming a life giving spirit, and everyone in Christ being one body can be seen as quite literal due to their understanding of pneuma. Paul saw this new man as a superior creature to the simply flesh person (“natural man”) that represented all unbelievers. It also explains the horror of Christians having sex with a pagan temple prostitute.

As mentioned already, this understanding of pneuma would have been as intuitive to Paul’s audience in Corinth as the modern definition of gravity is to us today. Paul is simply saying that the body that is resurrected from Hades, after the flesh is put in the ground, is made of pneuma, which is a type of substance that is suitable for heaven. It was the real individual that went into the grave, but it was the pneuma of that person that was resurrected from Hades. The flesh rots away. (For more information on this, please watch or listen to my 2014 Preterist Pilgrim Weekend speech “Stoics and Gnostics” available from Don Preston at the Preterist Research Institute.)

Notice how easy to understand 1 Cor. 15 becomes with this background in mind:

1 Corinthians 15:35-50 ESV “But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” (36) You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. (37) And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. (38) But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. (39) For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. (40) There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. (41) There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. (42) So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. (43) It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. (44) It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual (pneumatikon) body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual (pneumatikon) body. (45) Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit (pneuma). (46) But it is not the spiritual (pneumatikon) that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual (pneumatikon). (47) The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. (48) As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. (49) Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. (50) I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.”

There is much more that could be said regarding 1 Cor. 15, particularly the meaning behind Paul’s use of the various terrestrial and celestial bodies in vss. 38-41, but we do not have the time to develop that now. One concept worth mentioning that I see behind the ultimate goal of the resurrection of the dead is the judgment of the gods (elohim) – Paul’s “rulers, principalities and spiritual powers” – and their dethroning from the Divine Council of YHWH over the nations, and their replacement by the saints on thrones in the heavens. That view is based on the direction modern scholarship is advancing on certain texts such as Deut. 4 and 32, Psalms 82 and 89, Daniel 12, John 10 and in Second Temple literature (e.g. 2 Baruch, 4 Ezra, Testament of Moses, 4 Maccabees, 1 Enoch, Philo, etc.). For a mind-blowing podcast which takes this approach, see http://www.nakedbiblepodcast.com/naked-bible-95-david-burnett-resurrection-and-the-death-of-the-gods/ (though from a partial-preterist position, it plugs perfectly into a full preterist viewpoint).

The guest speaker in the above podcast, David Burnett, has written a yet-to-be published paper (scheduled to be released later this year at the annual Society for Biblical Literature meeting) on this very subject. The abstract can be found here: http://www.dburnett.com/?p=2640.

What Now?

I see “resurrection from the dead” as a one-time event for the dead ones in Hades at AD70, and not an ongoing function post-AD70. Those saints are in heaven and are co-regents with Christ, ruling from thrones with him. Since Hades is no more, there is no longer a “resurrection out from among the dead ones” (the “dead ones” were in Hades/Sheol when that was written). But, since the “age to come” was described as one where those living in it have eternal life, and since Revelation describes those who die after the Judgment as “blessed” (Rev. 14:13), and since the church was to last “for all generations forever and ever,” I would argue that all those in Christ after AD70, who have Christ’s pneuma in themselves, already have resurrection life and are not resurrected out from sin-death or from Hades, but continue to live after death in their true pneumatic body given to them by the breath of God.

This view is not “futuristic” as some CBV advocates attribute to an “individual body view.” It is no more futuristic than the fact that the kingdom was consummated in AD70 but continues indefinitely with new people coming into it and being “raised unto eternal life” daily. If the existence of ongoing benefits for a one-time event means it’s futuristic, then the CBV would also be futuristic since they also believe in the on-going benefits of the cross and the kingdom as well.

August 27, 2016

Posted in Eschatology | Leave a comment

Why I Am Skeptical about the Corporate Body View of the Resurrection

By Charles Meek

The “Corporate Body View” of the Resurrection (CBV), as held by some preterists, teaches that resurrection refers primarily, if not exclusively, to recovery of relational death between man and God. This view understands resurrection to be purely collective, covenantal, and metaphorical—and thus, by extension, is only individual and bodily in a limited (or murky) sense. This view harkens back to the dry bones passage in Ezekiel 37ff in which God resurrects his people (Ezekiel 37:11-14) into a new covenant (Ezekiel 37:26-28). CBVers also call on such passages as 1 Corinthians 15:54-55 where Paul quotes Isaiah 25:8 and Hosea 13:14 as fulfillment of the Old Covenant doctrine of the resurrection of Israel.

The CBV view stands against the “Individual Body View” (IBV). The IBV view teaches that there is an element of spiritual “resurrection” in the sense of salvation of the living (Ephesians  2:1-7; Colossians 2:12-14). But there is also a resurrection of new glorified bodies of believers at death?to heaven, leaving the old physical body behind (1 Corinthians 15:35-49). CBV advocates may or may not acknowledge an individual aspect to resurrection. All preterists reject the idea that fleshly bodies will emerge from their physical graves, that is, the “Body out of Graves” view (BOG), which is held by many futurists.

The topic of resurrection is the most difficult of eschatology subjects, in part because the biblical writers sometimes use the same terminology in different contexts to mean different things. I could be wrong, as I often am. But I see the CBV, if taken as a stand-alone doctrine, as incomplete and potentially misleading. Here are some thoughts:

  1. The corporate sense of resurrection is part of the meaning of resurrection. But is it the only sense of it? To believe this, one has to essentially hold that every time the word “body” (Greek “soma”) is used in the New Testament (some 142 times), that it refers to a collective body, i.e. the church. This is highly improbable. Only a relatively few times can soma be interpreted, indisputably, as the collective. I fear that CBV-only advocates have forced a single meaning into this word to reach a desired conclusion.
  2. CBVers rally around the language of the New Testament that “body” is usually singular, implying one collective “body of Christ.” But in language, it is not unusual to use body (singular) to mean bodies (plural). An example is: “Using too much of that substance will make the body ill.” Obviously “body” here is not limited to one unit or person. So, the application in a passage like 1 Corinthians 15:35 “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do THEY come?” does not limit its understanding to a collective body (of Christ). Rather, in context of Jesus’ own resurrection, Paul is clearly speaking about the nature of the afterlife bodies of individual believers.
  3. Is the “hope of Israel” limited to some sort of metaphoric collective positioning? I think you have to ignore dozens of passages in the New Testament to accept that conclusion. There are too many passages about the afterlife and heaven as a place of rest, hope, etc. for individual persons. And further, despite objections from CBVers, I think that the individual nature of the afterlife is how it would have been understood by the original hearers. Consider: Martha in John 11:17-27; John the Baptist’s messengers in Luke 7:22; the disciples in John 3:16 and14:2-3; the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17. (Re-read these passages to see if you agree.)
  4. The CBV-only view, IMHO, misses the fact that the Bible discusses both spiritual AND bodily death, therefore implying both types of resurrection. I am persuaded that the first type of resurrection was a “resurrection” of the LIVING in a soteriological (salvation) sense?”dead in your sins and made alive in Christ.” Consider these passages: John 5:24-25; 11:25; Romans 6:1-14, 23; 8:6-11; Ephesians 2:1-7; Colossians 2:12-14; 3:1-4; 1 John 3:14. The second type of resurrection was a resurrection of the physically DEAD in an eschatological/bodily sense (“immortal glorified body”). I think these passages are about bodily resurrection (and judgment): Daniel 12:2-3; Matthew 13:36-43; 16:27-28; 25:30-46; John 5:28-29, 6:39-40; Acts 24:14 (mello); 1 Corinthians 15:35-50; 2 Timothy 4:1 (mello); 1 Peter 4:5, 17; Revelation 20:11-15. To think that the resurrection of the living and the resurrection of the dead are the same thing defies logic.
  5. This CBV-only doctrine is very new to the church. It stems, apparently, from one guy–Max King (1930-2023), who developed it, apparently, from the very liberal theologian John A. T. Robinson, who even doubted the bodily resurrection of Christ. It is reasonable to be suspicious of the origin of all this. I think there is a whole lot of group-think among preterists, and it mostly emanates from King, who we understand adopted universalism. Are preterists guilty of the very thing that they accuse futurists of—rallying around ideas from prominent theologians?
  6. The CBV-only view has led to unfortunate inferences of “hyper preterism” such as (a) universalism, (b) the notion that we are in heaven now (on earth), (c) that the afterlife holds nothing better for believers, or (d) even that sin no longer exists since AD 70. These conclusions are abominable errors. The CBV-only view has been the archway for many poor souls right out of Christianity.
  7. CBV-only advocates (like some futurists) have failed to grasp that the idiom “heaven and earth” (sometimes used as a Hebraic expression about covenants) is not the same thing as heaven itself. Even in English, we use the terms “heaven,” “heavens,” and “heaven and earth” in several different ways. In every language, some words have many different meanings. This is just basic hermeneutics.
  8. The CBV folks emphasize that you cannot understand the NT on resurrection unless you understand the OT. Well, I do not see how anybody could miss that such Old Testament passages as Isaiah 26:19; Job 19:26, and Daniel 12:2 are about individual persons to life after physical death.
  9. I don’t see how you can miss that 1 Corinthians 15:35-50 is Paul’s attempt to explain the nature of the afterlife for believers. His discussions about the seed analogy seem as obvious to me as it certainly has been to believers throughout Christian history. In 1 Corinthians 15:12-20, Paul sets this earthly life over and against the resurrection life in heaven in spiritual, imperishable bodies, confirming his teaching of our personal life after bodily death?as Christians have always understood..
  10. It is evident enough from Scripture that Jesus has a body in heaven (Colossians 2:9; Philippians 3:21; 1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 1:3; 4:14; 10:12). There is no indication in these passages, or Acts 1:9-11, that Jesus’ body disintegrated as CBVers propose. It was changed (or glorified), but not annihilated. Jesus’ eternal body sets the pattern for us (Philippians 3:21). We will have a body in heaven. But it will be an immortal body—a new body suitable for our eternal habitation. Paul used the terms “glorified,” “immortal,” “spiritual,” and “imperishable” explain the nature of our heavenly bodies (1 Corinthians 15:35-50, 52b, 53). Jesus said that we will be like angels in heaven (Matthew 22:30; cf. Matthew 17:2). These terms add to our understanding that our eternal bodies will have physicality—corporeal and personal in some sense, like those of Moses and Elijah at the Transfiguration.
  11. I fear that CBVers have lost sight of the gospel. Yes, Paul said in Acts that he taught nothing but the “hope of Israel.” But he does not limit this hope to a collective. The New Testament declares that all of God’s covenant promises, thus the hope of Israel, were fulfilled in Jesus (Luke 1:54-55, 69-75; 2 Corinthians 1:20). This is the heart of the New Testament. Salvation comes through the faith of the individual, not from a collective. “Whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16) is not corporate, but individual.
  12. Are CBVers confusing Old Testament promises with New Testament realities? In Ezekiel 37 the nation (corporate body) of Israel was to be restored to its homeland after the exile. That was a shadow of New Testament resurrection. But Jesus personalized all of theology. Numerous passages in the New Testament explain that one’s personal salvation is by grace through a living faith in Jesus Christ alone. It should be evident that the passages on salvation are immensely personal in nature—not about corporate salvation. Likewise, we face judgment as individuals, not as a collective. The home of believers is heaven, not a piece of dirt.
  13. If you ask a CBVer what they believe about the afterlife and where they think they go when they die, you never get the answer “heaven.” Rather, you will get an answer something like “I continue to live in the house of God” or “We will reside in the presence of our Creator.” But if challenged on such answer by “Do you mean as an individual or in the collective?” you likely will get silence as an answer.

So, in summary, there appear to be multiple compounding errors from the CBV camp:

  1. The corporate sense of resurrection confuses soteriology with eschatology. We are not saved by corporate identity in any sense (a similar error made by dispensationalists who see salvation of Jews as emanating from simply being Jewish), but by grace through our personal, living, penitent, trusting faith in Jesus.
  2. Jesus personalized everything. CBV national “resurrection” was fulfilled to teach a typological lesson about individual resurrection.
  3. The CBV concept has confused the covenantal concept of “new heaven and new earth” with the realities of the physical earth itself and of heaven itself. This has led to very unfortunate inferences, which are leading people away from fundamental Christianity. In particular, some CBV advocates actually teach, or imply, that heaven is on earth and that there is nothing better to be expected in the afterlife. Further, it has led some to the inference that God did not create the physical universe per Genesis. Instead, God just popped up on the scene or intervened in an already existing universe to manipulate people by covenants and judgments. This diminishes God. One CBV advocate described God as a being that “moves in and out of deism.” This is an incredible distortion of Christianity.

Conclusion: There is much disagreement, wrangling, and confusion among Christians about many doctrines. This is certainly true among preterists too. While some futurists (especially dispensationalists) have interpreted the Bible in overly literal terms, some preterists seem to find metaphors under every rock. Both approaches create more problems than they solve. Preterism will never gain traction among mainstream Christians unless we can correctly define our views in line with classical Christianity.


See also:
Corporate Body View and Covenant Eschatology
Resurrection to Heaven
The General Resurrection of the Dead

Posted in Collective Body View, Eschatology | Leave a comment

Did Christ Die Spiritually?

by Dan Norcini

The Preterist movement, or “Realized eschatology”, has been a breath of fresh air within the modern church, as it has laid bare the false assumptions, particularly of the most prominent and widely accepted eschatological system known as Premillennial Dispensationalism.

That being said, a significant number of teachers within the Preterist system have sadly veered far off course and run the risk of discrediting the entire viewpoint due to serious errors that they are propagating. Some of these errors are most disconcerting as they have moved outside of the historical viewpoint of the church for the past two millennia.

This brief essay deals with their claim that the Lord Jesus “died spiritually” on the cross. Their claim is that the physical death of Jesus was not what was most important but rather it was His “spiritual death” that was efficacious. They state that since men who believe in Christ still die physically, then Christ’s physical death could not have been a substitutionary one but rather was only a means to his experiencing “spiritual death”.

To further substantiate this interpretation, they have also come up with another term analogous to the “spiritual death”, which they call, “separation death”.

I should note here that neither of these two terms is expressly used in the entirety of Scripture. We do see the apostle Paul using the term, “death” and “dead” quite regularly in his letters to various churches, but nowhere does he ever use the terms, “separation death” or “spiritual death”.

It is this writer’s opinion that some of these well-meaning men, have not seriously thought through the implications of this view.

I will grant this before we delve into the Scriptures further – those advocating the use of these two terms do attempt to define them using other portions of Scripture. That I do not have a problem with on the surface. The issue I have is that their attempt to define both terms has led them into error.

First of all, let’s go back to their view of what happened to Adam in the Garden. They claim that Adam died “spiritually” on the day that he sinned or as they further explain, he suffered “separation death”. In other words, Adam became separated from God on the day he sinned in the Garden of Eden. But is this statement true? In my opinion, no, it is not.

The Bible nowhere states that Adam was separated from God. As a matter of fact, if mankind was ever completely separated from God, it would cease to exist.

“…in whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.” (Job 12:10)

10 Therefore, listen to me, you men of understanding.
Far be it from God to do wickedness,
And from the Almighty to do wrong.
11 “For He pays a man according to his work,
And makes him find it according to his way.
12 “Surely, God will not act wickedly,
And the Almighty will not pervert justice.
13 “Who gave Him authority over the earth?
And who has laid on Him the whole world?
14 “If He should determine to do so,
If He should gather to Himself His spirit and His breath,
15 All flesh would perish together,
And man would return to dust.” (Job 34: 10-15)

And again,

7 “Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
9 If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.” (Psalm 139: 7-10)

Man cannot ever be completely separated from God. Yet, the Scriptures do speak as follows:

“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)

So here in Scripture we have clearly stated that sin (iniquity) separates man from God. It is further amplified, as is common in Hebrew, that sin results in a hiding of God’s face from the sinner.

When God is said to “hide His face” from someone, it means that they are separated from His gracious presence not utterly from His person. If the latter were true, the man would be dead since God is a life-giving Spirit, without Whom, nothing would exist, for He alone gives life to all things and upholds all things by the word of His power.

24 “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things;” (Acts 17: 24-25)

1 “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways,2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power (Hebrews 1: 1-3 NASB)

Referring back to the idea of God hiding His face from man on account of his sins and a breach in the relationship between God and man, the New Testament uses the word, “reconciliation”, when speaking to one of the things that Christ accomplished by His death on the cross.

Reconciliation is necessary when there is a breach created between two parties, either caused by the actions or words from one or both involved. This creates a state of hostility which needs to be repaired before the relationship can be restored.

In other words, God hides His face from man when He is angry with the man on account of sins. Thus, while the man is not utterly separated from His maker, the life-giving Spirit, he is separated from His gracious presence. He has no favor with God, no true expectation of having his prayers answered, or for that matter, even heard.

He has no promise of Divine protection, of God being a hiding place in time of trouble, a shield, a rock, a fortress, a deliverer, a strong tower, a mountain that surrounds him, a provider, a healer, etc. For God to no longer hide His face from that man, that same man must FIRST be reconciled to God. That is precisely what the gospel message tells him. Even more than that, it tells the sinner that God has made a way for that necessity of reconciliation to actually take place!

10 “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.” (Romans 5: 10-11 NASB)

18 “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” (2 Cor 5:18-19 NASB)

In the case between God and man, God is the party aggrieved as it is not possible for the Almighty to do anything wrong. He did nothing to disturb the relationship that existed between Himself and Adam in the Garden. Everything Adam needed to be happy was given to him, including a companion fit for him. It was indeed a Paradise. Rather it was the man, who refused to obey the simple command from His Maker, who spoiled all things by one act of disobedience and thereby caused the breach in the relationship.

From that moment on, all mankind, every single human being ever born on this planet who traces their descent from Adam, entered life, by nature, as an enemy of God needing reconciliation. However, they are not utterly separated from the person of God, for the reasons we have cited above.

What is astonishing is that it was the God of all grace who would make provision to repair the relationship between Himself and His creature, not the man who actually initiated the breach.

Speaking directly to the serpent of old, God proclaimed his demise, a demise that would undo the ruin his temptation had brought on man.

As this promise would become more clearly defined with the passing of time, the Seed of the Woman, would Himself bring in a perfect righteousness, one that would be everlasting which would allow the breach, the separation between man and Himself to be closed.

18 “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him
.” ( 2 Cor 5:18-21)

This was typed out in the Garden scene in the third chapter of Genesis:

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

To obtain this clothing for both Adam and Eve, it was necessary for the animals to be slain. Why does it state that it was God who made the garments? Answer – to show that it was the God of all grace who initiated the reconciliation and that this reconciliation must needs involve the death of substitutes.

When God warned Adam…

16 “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 will surely die.”” (Gen 2:16-17)

…He was not bluffing. The threatened punishment had to be inflicted or the Lord of Heaven and Earth would have been shown to be a liar, something that it is impossible for God to do (Hebrews 6).

Here was grace and mercy mixed with justice or as the Psalmist would tell us years later:

“Lovingkindness and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” (Psalm 85: 10-12)

Instead of the blow falling upon Adam and Eve, the Lord Himself, as He would do many, many years later for His servant Abraham, provided a sacrifice that would die in their place. The threat, “the soul that sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:3), was carried out, but it was upon the substituted animals that the judgment would descend. Divine justice being satisfied, God could then justly deal in mercy with His now fallen creature. The animals were prefiguring the One, True sacrifice, the Lord Jesus, the One for Whom a Body would be prepared:

4 “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5 Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, “SACRIFICE AND OFFERING YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, BUT A BODY YOU HAVE PREPARED FOR ME; 6 IN WHOLE BURNT OFFERINGS AND sacrifices FOR SIN YOU HAVE TAKEN NO PLEASURE. 7 “THEN I SAID, ‘BEHOLD, I HAVE COME (IN THE SCROLL OF THE BOOK IT IS WRITTEN OF ME)TO DO YOUR WILL, O GOD.’“ (Hebrews 10:4-7)

Both Adam and Eve had the gospel message preached to them directly by God Himself. They in turn taught it to their sons. Where else did Abel learn that he needed to offer a firstling from his flock showing that he understood the demands of Divine justice that the blood of the substitute had to be shed for atonement for sin? ( Gen 4:4)

The apostle Paul clearly tells us in his letter to the Romans, that faith, true saving faith, comes by hearing the word of Christ, the gospel.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Roman 10:17)

By faith Abel offered to God a better 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.“ (Hebrews 11: 4)

Abel understood that he needed a substitutionary sacrifice if his person was to be acceptable to God Most High. This he no doubt learned from his parents. This alone would reconcile him to God and close the breach between himself and His maker, albeit if only temporarily since the sacrifices had to be repeated constantly prior to the coming of the Perfect Lamb of God.

To sum up – Adam sinned in the Garden and as a result, his former relationship with God, His maker, was marred. Guilt and shame were now his new fellows. Hitherto, he knew nothing of either of these.

Guilt was created by his now fully active conscience and that produced the new sensation of FEAR. Before that, Adam had enjoyed sweet communion with God. Now he hid from his Maker. He understood a side of God that he previously had not known, namely one of perfect Justice who would by no means leave the guilty unpunished.

Shame also now wracked him. Before he had been naked before God and was not ashamed. His sin had now produced a sense of defilement and uncleanness in the presence of a Holy and Righteous God. He felt dirty, unclean, defiled when the Light of perfect holiness shown upon him in his newly fallen estate.

A breach in the relationship with the Creator had now been formed and mankind would never be the same. To close this breach, blood sacrifices were instituted, which allowed for a substitute, one without sin or defilement, to take the place of the guilty sinner and to take the stroke of Divine Justice upon itself in his place so that the other could be set free and have fellowship with His Creator once more.

This is all one needs to know to understand the gospel message of reconciliation, of redemption, of atonement, of propitiation. Any attempts to confound this simple meaning by the unwarranted use of extra-biblical terminology such as “spiritual death” or “separation death” merely muddies the waters and produces confusion where they need not be any.


We went in great depth into these things to dispel the novel idea termed, “separation death” by the teachers of the CBV or “spiritual death”. To repeat, no where are these terms used in the Scriptures especially as they are defined by the CBV teachers.

As far as “spiritual death” goes…

The term is not found in the Scriptures. The concept might be but it needs to be correctly explained and therefore understood.

Paul states in Ephesians that all of us were “dead in our sins and transgressions”. That is as far as he goes. He does not use the terms, “spiritually dead” or “separation dead” (whatever that is supposed to mean).

It simply means that man in his fallen estate is devoid of the life of God in his soul. The New Testament defines this separation as being “alienated from or excluded from the life of God”.

17 “So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart;” (Eph 4:17-18 NASB)

17 “This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart;” (Eph 4: 17-18 NKJV)

This alienation from the life of God is defined numerous times in the Scriptures:

“When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions…” (Col 2:13

“even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),” (Eph 2:5)

Conversion, regeneration, the new birth, being born again, is exactly what it says it is – it is a NEW LIFE coming into the sin-deadened soul of man. That life is the life of God Himself. It is one thing to say that all men depend on the life-Giving Ruler of all things for their existence. It is altogether another thing to say that the life of God is within them. The latter only comes to man through the new birth, or regeneration.

This new life loves righteousness while it hates sin. It loves that which is good and clings to that which is pure. It despises evil in any form. It sees sin as an ugly, deforming thing, a leprosy of the soul while it sees righteousness as a thing of beauty and that which is to be desired and sought for. It moves the man to please God in all that he does or says, while the man devoid of this life cares not a whit whether he is pleasing to God or not.

One man is alive to God; the other is dead. It is that simple. It needs not to be confounded by the introduction of extraneous terms such as “separation death” or “spiritual death”. Such extra -Biblical phrases only add to confusion and create uncertainty in the minds of some where none is needed.

Having dispensed with the notion that Adam experienced “separation death”, we now come to the more serious error concerning the nature of the death of Christ.

The teaching out of the CBV movement boldly asserts that the Lord Christ died “spiritually” or that He experienced “separation death”, since that was what Adam experienced and therefore, so their reasoning goes, so too must Christ if His death was to truly be substitutionary.

Of first importance, Christ was never separated from His Father. That is nowhere found in Scripture. What He did experience was the sense of being forsaken, abandoned, left to himself:

“My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1)

He experienced what many of us go through when the sense of God’s presence of love and care is withheld. This takes place when one grieves the Holy Spirit and His communications of the love, grace, mercy and tender care over His people is lost through repeated sin.

In its place, he experienced for the first time ever, a sense of the wrath of God against sin. Prior to His offering of Himself, the gracious sense of His Father’s presence never left Him. Why did our Blessed Lord have to undergo such things? Because this is the just desert of all sinners. By nature, all of us are “children of wrath”.

“Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.“ (Eph 2: 3)

“He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:36)

Please note – this Scripture does not say that the wrath of God WILL COME upon him (in the future). It states that the wrath of God ABIDES (present tense) on him. He is already under the wrath of God and will remain so unless he repents and believes the gospel message. It abides on him now in the present and will follow him into eternity.

Read the entirety of Psalm 88 if you want to get a small sense of the amazing suffering that our blessed Lord went through for us! Mortal men cannot bear up under the wrath of God in its fulness but our Savior tasted it for all those for whom He came to die.

” 1 O LORD, the God of my salvation, 2 Let my prayer come before You; Incline Your ear to my cry! 3 For my soul has had enough troubles, And my life has drawn near to Sheol. 4 I am reckoned among those who go down to the pit; I have become like a man without strength,

13 But I, O LORD, have cried out to You for help, And in the morning my prayer comes before You. 14 O LORD, why do You reject my soul? Why do You hide Your face from me? 15 I was afflicted and about to die from my youth on; I suffer Your terrors; I am overcome. 16 Your burning anger has passed over me; Your terrors have destroyed me. 17 They have surrounded me like water all day long; They have encompassed me altogether. 18 You have removed lover and friend far from me; My acquaintances are in darkness.” (Psalm 88: 1-4, 13-18)

Now, it is important to understand that this burning anger of God is what is due to sin. His perfect Justice demands that He punish it. Our Substitute therefore had to undergo such if His sufferings for His elect was to be complete.

We accept this concept every day in the workings of our modern court system. A person is charged with a crime, brought before a judge and/or jury, tried and if found guilty, is sentenced with a punishment commensurate with the severity of the crime. The exact same thing goes with the Judge of Heaven and Earth when it comes to mankind. Once the guilt of the suspect is ascertained, and it has already been decided so, then the punishment must be meted out.

“…Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin;” (Romans 3:9)

Christ, the Substitute, was CHARGED WITH THE GUILT OF SIN. But this is important – His holy, spotless nature was never contaminated or defiled with it as is our nature.

“26 For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.” (Hebrews 7: 26-27)

Even as a sacrifice for sin, He retained every bit of his pure, unspotted, undefiled nature. To say that he became “separated from God” or “died spiritually” [apparently the CBV teachers use the terms interchangeably] , one would have to ask what was the cause of such a thing? It would assume a defilement of His nature would have taken place, which would have rendered His sacrifice unacceptable to God. That flies in the face of Scripture which states that the Father was pleased with the Lord Jesus’ sacrifice of Himself.

“But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering,“ (Isaiah 53:10 NASB)

Notice, Christ, the promised Messiah, rendered Himself as a guilt offering. He was not mystically transformed into sin, with His nature becoming corrupted but rather He took upon Himself the guilt of sin and therefore bore in His own person its just punishment.

This is also the clear teaching of the apostle Paul to the Corinthians in his second letter to that church:

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor 5: 21 NIV)

The NIV provides a marginal note properly defining the Greek word used for sin as a sin offering.

To repeat, to therefore say that Christ died “spiritually” (again, this term is not found in the Bible) would entail that somehow His nature became defiled, which is the only cause of separation from the goodness of God. That in itself is so grievous an error that it is unconscionable to me that anyone claiming to speak on behalf of Christ could assert it. The men propagating these things should rethink what they are stating as this is so reckless with the truth that it is terrifying! They apparently have not thought through the ramifications of the things which proceed out of their mouths.

Those who spout this foolishness err greatly therefore because it is a symptom of the lack of understanding of the doctrine of justification through faith alone. It has often been said, by myself and many others, that to be wrong on this foundational doctrine, is to make oneself liable to fall into all sorts of error and confusion.

The entire method whereby God justifies sinner is a legal or forensic one. It is a declaration by a Judge and is in its essence, purely OUTSIDE of the sinner. In itself, it effects no change INTERNALLY to the recipient. What is does change is the state or STANDING of that sinner before Heaven’s tribunal.

Let me add here briefly, so that my enemies do not take liberties with my statement above – Justification is never separated from sanctification of the sinner. Wherever the first is found, the latter ALWAYS accompanies it. But make no mistake, the two are completely different from each other. One affects the standing of the sinner; the other affects his nature.

This being established, Christ’s nature was never defiled in any form, shape or fashion as those advocating the teaching stating that He “died spiritually” or He suffered “separation death”. We have already stated that is impossible or else God would not

have accepted His sacrifice, the proof of which He would have left Him in the grave and never raised Him.

“10 But You, O LORD, be gracious to me and raise me up, That I may repay them. 11 By this I know that You are pleased with me, Because my enemy does not shout in triumph over me.” (Psalm 41:10-11)

When Christ completed His atoning work on the cross and His fulfillment of the Law by keeping it perfectly, He EARNED A RIGHTEOUSNESS as His reward with His resurrection being a Divine declaration to the world that His Father was pleased with Him and His sacrifice.

What took place at the cross was that our GUILT was credited or imputed to Him and God slew Him in our place.

What the Gospel tells us is that those who believe on Him for righteousness through faith, are then CREDITED or IMPUTED with it by God. There is a transfer of our guilt to Christ and a transfer of His righteousness (forensically speaking) to us done by none other than God Himself acting as a Judge.

This is what Paul speaks of his epistle to the Romans:

“because the Scripture says, “Abraham believed God, and ·God accepted Abraham’s faith, and that faith made him right with God [it was credited/counted to him for righteousness; Gen. 15:6].”

because the Scripture says, “Abraham believed God, and ·God accepted Abraham’s faith, and that faith made him right with God [L?it was credited/counted to him for righteousness; Gen. 15:6].”

When people work, their ·pay [wage] is not given [credited; counted] as a gift [grace], but as something earned [due to them]But people cannot do any work that will make them right with God. So they must trust in him ?But for the one who does not work, but trusts in God], who makes even evil people right in his sight [justifies/makes righteous the ungodly]. Then God ·accepts their faith, and that makes them right with him [credits/counts their faith for righteousness]David said the same thing. He said that people are truly blessed [happy; spiritually fulfilled] when God, without paying attention to their deeds [apart from works], makes people right with himself [credits/counts righteousness to them]. “Blessed [Happy; Spiritually fulfilled] are they whose sins [lawless deeds] are forgiven, whose wrongs [sins] are pardoned [covered; blotted out]. (Romans 4:3-7 EXB)

Notice, these are accounting terms used in this amplified translation – like an entry into a ledger – it deals solely with their standing before God. Nothing happens internally ( speaking strictly of the manner in which God declares them righteous).

Why am I emphasizing this? Because if it were anything other than a forensic declaration by the Judge of Heaven and Earth, if there was an actual transfer of INHERENT RIGHTEOUSNESS OF CHRIST into condemned sinners when it comes to this Divine declaration of righteousness, then the opposite side of the transaction would have to also be true, namely that our evil was actually transferred INTO CHRIST! That would entail that His nature became contaminated with sin. Perish the thought of such horror!

Yet that is exactly what those accusing Christ of dying “spiritually” or experiencing “separation death” are advocating. I had heard of a similar teaching many years ago by several of the people who were in the so-called “word of faith” group, but never thought that others might be advocating the same grievous error. Those teaching it came right out and boldly stated that Christ actually became sin! While I am unaware of any of the current teachers in the CBV movement who have categorically stated this, when one examines the ramifications of their use of the terms, “died spiritually” or suffered “separation death” in reality, one can clearly see how dangerous and how far outside the historic understanding of the death of Christ has become.

Do not miss the significance of this! It was the guilt of our sins that was charged against Christ (imputed to Him), not the inherent defilement of those sins. Now we do indeed become partakers of the Divine nature but that is a separate work outside of our justification. Again, this work will always accompany justification, but it is separate and needs remain as such.

This is the reason that the Catholic church never could grasp the true gospel during the days of the Protestant Reformation. They kept confounding the doctrine of justification with that of sanctification. That error was what made all their so-called “sacraments” necessary to complete the salvation of their followers. They failed to understand that the righteousness which comes through faith in Christ is perfect, nor can it ever be diminished in any true sense when it comes to their declared standing before God.

The point in all this is that when one reads or listens to the teachings of the Corporate Body View people, one should understand exactly what the ramifications of their errors leads to.

Jesus Christ did not “die spiritually”. He did not undergo “separation death”. He tasted death, physical death and experienced the sense of being forsaken, of undergoing the wrath of God and the loss of the gracious presence of His loving Father for guilty sinners, but He was NEVER SEPARATED from His Father at any time. He was always pleasing to His Father, even while He was suffering on that bloody cross.

Be on guard!

Dan Norcini SS
May 14, 2024

Posted in Eschatology | Leave a comment

Death of Adam: Spiritual-Only or Physical Also?

Ed Stevens – March 1, 2019

The two major views on resurrection within the Preterist movement (CBV versus IBV) part ways at the very beginning of the Bible in regard to how each defines the “death” that God threatened and carried out against Adam “on the very day” he sinned. The CBV defines it as a spiritual-only death, while the IBV sees it as a comprehensive death, including physical, spiritual, and eternal death.

Some might wonder how physical death (in any sense) could be included in the death that was threatened against Adam’s sin, especially since Adam did not personally die physically on that day. We will explain that down below.

The CBV affirms that the only kind of death Adam died on the day he sinned was spiritual. They deny Adam died physically in any sense “on the day” he sinned. In his book, We Shall Meet Him in the Air (WSMHA hereafter), Preston explains how crucial the spiritual-only Death of Adam concept is to his collective body framework:

[The] death of Adam, which is the focus of Christ’s end time resurrection work, has nothing to do with biological death, but with the loss of spiritual fellowship with God. . . if you mis-identify the death of the Garden, you will of necessity wrongly identify the nature of the resurrection in [the whole] New Testament. If your protology (doctrine of the beginning) is wrong, your eschatology (doctrine of the end) is destined to be misguided. [WSMHA, 4, boldface added]

To wrongly identify the death of Adam is to wrongly construct eschatology. To wrongly identify the nature and focus of Christ’s substitutionary, atoning work is to mis-interpret ... the story of redemption. We must place our understanding of . . . all eschatological passages within the proper context and framework or we are doomed to miss and/or misconstrue their message. [WSMHA, 20, boldface added]

Do you see what Preston has admitted here? This means that if the CBV concept of a spiritual-only Death of Adam is mistaken, then both their protology and eschatology are “wrong” and “misguided,” including their explanation of Christ’s substitutionary atonement and the whole story of redemption. And that would negate their entire collective body framework which is built on their assumption that the Death of Adam was spiritual-only.

Furthermore, the CBV cannot be right about the Death of Adam being spiritual-only, since it would necessarily imply that Christ did not need to die physically in order to overcome the spiritual-only death of Adam, and that the physical death of Jesus was not His substitutionary death for our atonement. But that fatally contradicts Hebrews 9:22 which states, “without the shedding of [Christ’s] blood there is no forgiveness.” That clearly demands that our substitutionary atonement could not have occurred without the physical death of Jesus. The CBV attempts to avoid this dilemma by redefining “blood” in Heb 9:22 as being “spiritual blood.” Steve Baisden, Holger Neubauer, and Don Preston defended that “spiritual blood” idea on FaceBook recently.

So, we see that the core issue distinguishing the CBV from the IBV is our respective definitions of the death that Adam died “on the very day” he sinned. And since these two diametrically-opposed definitions of the Death of Adam cannot both be right, it means that one of these two views is “wrong” and “misguided” (Preston’s words). Therefore, the whole debate between CBV and IBV can be settled right here on this very issue of the Death of Adam.

How we define the Death of Adam in Genesis will absolutely determine what we believe about the Death and Resurrection of Jesus and His saints in the New Testament. This immediately raises the question, “Why does the CBV absolutely insist that the only death that Adam died on the day he sinned was spiritual death?” Let’s look at the Genesis text to see what kind of death was both threatened and carried out upon Adam “in the day” he ate.

What Does ‘in the day you eat’ Mean?

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

Notice that whatever kind of death God threatened against Adam was to be executed upon him “in the very day” he ate from the forbidden tree. There is nothing ambiguous about this language. It is very explicit. Therefore, it cannot be talking about the physical natural death of Adam nine-hundred years later. Instead, it can only be talking about a penal death that Adam would die “in the very day he ate.” No other death at any other time will fit the clear language here.

Many commentaries try to explain away this language by suggesting that Adam merely began to die on that day, or that he became mortal (subject to eventual death), or that the death penalty was only imputed against him on that day. But there is not a hint of those ideas in the context. God explicitly warned Adam that if he ate from the forbidden tree, he would die “in the very same day he ate.”

Furthermore, we need to note that Preston totally agrees with me on this. In his book, he spends three full pages contending for this idea that whatever kind of death it was that was threatened, it had to be the same kind of death that was actually carried out in the very same 24-hour day that Adam sinned. Here is how Don argues that case:

Did Adam and Eve die [physically] the day that they ate the forbidden fruit? … The vast majority say, “No, Adam and Eve did not die [physically] the day they ate.” Interestingly however, when we point out that God said they would die that day, and that Satan said they would not die that day, there is an immediate recognition that their view has a serious problem! The denial that Adam and Eve died the day they ate the fruit makes Satan the one who told the truth . . . This conundrum, is very real. Who really told the truth, God, or Satan?

It will be readily admitted that the term “day” can be used metaphorically. . . .

[However] only context can determine what “the day” means in any given text. Do we have any contextual help for understanding what “the day” means in Genesis 2:16f? We do indeed.

Note that YHVH told Adam and Eve, “In the day that you eat thereof, you will surely die.” When Satan confronted Eve, he told her, “You will not surely die, but, God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). Notice the direct correlation between “in the day you eat you will surely die” and “in the day you eat you will know good and evil.”

Of course, Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. The question therefore is, in what day did they come to know good and evil? Was that knowledge imparted 900 years later?

Did they continue in their innocence for several more centuries? The answer is obvious, is it not? They knew good and evil in that very day, the day marked by the sun, moon, and stars, a twenty-four hour day.

The identical term “in the day” is used to say they would die, and they would come to know good and evil. Where is the contextual evidence that “in the day that you eat you will surely die,” can be extrapolated into almost a millennium?

Consider the grammatical problem of saying Adam and Eve did die spiritually that day, but they did not die physically for hundreds of years. This means that the same identical term, in the same verse, has two totally disparate, contradictory, definitions. We are told that “in the day that you eat, you will surely die,” means that in that very same twenty-four hour period, they would lose their fellowship life with YHVH and be cast out of His presence. But then, that same identical statement, within the same verse, meant you will die physically hundreds of years from now! What rule of grammar, of linguistics, of semantics, of hermeneutic, allows the identical term, in the identical verse, to mean two totally different things? It appears from our vantage point that only a preconceived idea of the nature of the death of Adam can force this kind of meaning onto the text. [WSMHA, 5-7, boldface and bracketed words added for clarity and emphasis]

Thus, it seems clear that the phrase “in the day you eat” in the context of Genesis 2-3 absolutely means that Adam would certainly die some kind of death within the same twenty-four-hour day that he ate the forbidden fruit. There is simply no grammatical or contextual justification for the idea that this death could occur sometime later. Whatever kinds of death were threatened (spiritual and/or physical), they all had to occur literally “on the very same day he ate.”

And we need to note that Preston’s whole spiritual-only Death of Adam position critically depends on this idea that the threatened death (whatever it was) must have occurred on the very same 24-hour day that Adam sinned. So that raises the question: What kinds of death were threatened and carried out “on the very same day they ate”?

What Kind of Death Did God Threaten?

In the conversation between the Serpent and the woman (Genesis 3:1-6), we can discern what her concept of the threatened death must have been. The Serpent questioned what God said: “Did God actually say that you could not eat from every tree in the garden?” The woman replied: “We do eat from the trees of the garden, except this one about which God said, do not eat of it, nor even touch it, lest you die.” But the Serpent said: You will not surely die, for God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, a delight to the eyes, and would make her wise, she took and ate.

Notice the four italicized statements above:

(1) not to eat of it, nor even touch it, lest you die;
(2) You will not surely die;
(3) good for food;
(4) delight to the eyes.

The woman associated three physical actions with the threatened death, eating, touching, and seeing. This implies that she understood the death threat to be physical death, since there is no indication that she already knew what spiritual death was. In fact, since they had not yet sinned, they could not have known what spiritual death was. Her spiritual eyes had not been opened yet. But she was able to see the delightful-looking tree with her physical eyes. And since she associated the threatened death with those three physical actions (eating, touching, and seeing), it strongly, if not necessarily, implies that her concept of the threatened death was physical.

This conclusion is further supported by the fact that when the Serpent reassured her that they would not die by touching it or eating it, she understood that the fruit was safe to eat (i.e., “good for food” Genesis 3:6). It would not kill them. It does not appear that she had any concept of spiritual death (sin-death) whatsoever. Her only concern appears to have been whether they would physically die from touching and eating the fruit.

Furthermore, Eve got this physical concept of death from Adam, and Adam got it straight from God, which necessarily implies that physical death was at least included in the kinds of death that God threatened to execute upon them “in the very day they ate.”

This means that when God showed up “in the cool of the day” they should have been struck dead on the spot, in the same way Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead on the very day they lied to Peter and the Holy Spirit (Acts 5). God did that very kind of thing to Ananias and Sapphira, so why did he not kill Adam and Eve “on the very day they sinned”? Below we explain how there actually was a physical death on behalf of Adam and Eve on the very day they sinned.

How Was That Physical Death Carried Out?

“The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.” [Gen 3:21, NAS95]

Notice that little word “skin.” Many commentaries point out that this necessarily implies that an animal was slain by God in order to provide these “garments of skin” for Adam and Eve. But God was not merely concerned about covering their physical nakedness. He was even more concerned about their forgiveness and spiritual well-being.

Chandler and McKeever explain how the physical death of that animal in the garden on the very day they sinned brought provisional forgiveness to Adam and Eve, and was the beginning of the substitutionary sacrificial system which pointed straight to Jesus who provided the full and final once-for-all atonement through His physical death on the Cross. Notice Chandler’s emphasis on the idea of a “sacrificial substitute,” or “substitute victim,” which “represented the death owed by the man”:

In harmony with God’s preplanned arrangement for atonement, physical death was required “in the day” of the sin, and was just as surely given! An animal was slain from which clothes were taken in the form of skins. It must be so that the slain animal was the substitute victim for Adam and Eve. Physical death came into Eden “in that day,” but it came upon man’s sacrificial substitute. When the animal was slain, it represented the death owed by the man. [Darwin Chandler. “The Fate of Innocence,” Expository Review (vol. 1, no. 10, Oct. 1982) boldface added]

Throughout the rest of the Old Testament, this pattern of atonement for sins is followed: physical death of a perfect animal (i.e., without blemish or spot) on behalf of the sinner, although the blood of these bulls and goats could not take away sins (Heb 10:4). This pattern culminated in the real thing, which God had promised in the beginning – Gen 3:15

– the physical death of the perfect Lamb of God on the Cross on behalf of his people. [Stacia McKeever, “What Does Jesus’s Death Accomplish?” Answers in Genesis website article. boldface added]

Were Adam and Eve Forgiven?

Recently, in one of his FaceBook discussions, Preston was asked if he believed Adam and Eve were forgiven before they left the garden. He replied that they were NOT forgiven before they left the garden, nor afterwards, as far as he knew.

That is a very disturbing admission by Preston. If true, it would mean that the first parents of our human race died unforgiven and will spend eternity outside the Presence of God. Andrew Willet reminds us that the heretic Tatian taught that very same thing, i.e., “that Adam was damned [never forgiven].” But then Willet asks, “If Adam had no faith remaining, to what purpose should God have propounded the promise of the Messiah to a faithless man (Gen 3:15)?” [Commentary on Genesis, vol. 2. Thompson, ed., Reformation Commentary on Scripture, vol. 1, 162. italics added]

The Protoevangelium, or first statement of the gospel (Gen 3:15), provides proof that God had forgiven them. The promise of a descendant to crush the Serpent shows that God gave them a future. They were not going to die on that day. The animal was slain in substitute for them, and its skin was a visible reminder of its substitutionary sacrificial death on their behalf. Thus, Adam and Eve left the garden in a forgiven state.

Gulley notes that “As soon as there was sin, there was a Savior.” As soon as they sinned, God proclaimed the gospel to them (Gen 3:15) and offered a sacrifice for their provisional forgiveness as they looked toward the future Coming One who would fulfill that physical substitutionary sacrificial typology once-for-all by His physical death on the Cross. [Gulley, Creation, Christ, Salvation, Systematic Theology vol. 3, 416]

Restoration of Fellowship?

Notice what the following writers have to say about the forgiveness and restoration of fellowship of Adam and Eve:

Because [God] always seeks to forgive and restore what was lost, each covenant contains the element of forgiveness, either implicitly or explicitly, and each covenant—after the Fall—aims to restore what was lost, and that restoration can only come about by God’s gracious gift. … The church has long understood the skin garment episode (Gen 3:21) as an adumbration of Christ and his sacrifice, in much the same way as the later Levitical animal sacrifices anticipate that of the Son. Surely this is correct. [Jeffrey J. Niehaus, “The Common Grace Covenants,” in vol. 1 of Biblical Theology, Accordance electronic ed. (Wooster: Weaver Book Company, 2014), 77-80.]

God subsequently clothes them to signify their inaugurated restoration to him (Gen. 3:21). [G.K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology, Accordance electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2011), 41. boldface added]

Yet God also revealed a way in which human sin could be forgiven and the broken relationship restored. God himself provided a substitute (an animal) whose blood (life) would atone for sin (Genesis 3:21). This began the sacrificial system. This revealed that once atonement had been made it was again possible for humankind to enter God’s presence which was manifested at the ark. However, this was done only through a mediator, the high priest, who represented God’s people (Exodus 28:12, 29). The sacrifices and the atonement conducted by the priests of Israel foreshadowed a coming sacrifice and a high priest who would make atonement once for all. [Randall Price, Rose Guide to the Temple, 4. boldface added]

The garments of skin were God’s provision for restoring Adam’s and Eve’s fellowship with Himself and imply slaying of an animal in order to provide them. [Ryrie, The Ryrie Study Bible, Expanded, paragraph 245. boldface added]

From the beginning, some of the first notable changes that would attest to a new [covenantal] arrangement were a different location (cf. 3:24), additional descendants in the first family (4:1–2), and a sacrifice-based relationship of blood atonement with God (4:3–5). The blood sacrifice was the only acceptable means of reconciliation for those faithful ones who sought to remain in personal fellowship with Him. … this alteration of relationship (now indirect) was portrayed in the first act of personal redemption as personally accomplished by the Lord for Adam and Eve (Gen 3:21). [Ervin Starwalt, “Issue 8: April 1999.” ConTJ 3 (Apr 1999): p. 109. boldface added]

The Protoevangelium (Genesis 3:15), God’s promise to bring forth a kinsman-redeemer from the seed of Eve who would crush the serpent’s head, is further acted out in the substitutionary sacrifice that God performed in front of Adam and Eve. This certainly had to be the beginning of the sacrificial system, and the origin of the sacrificial lamb motif that recurs constantly throughout both testaments. For instance, we see Abel offer a lamb from his flocks, the ram (lamb) caught in a thicket on Mount Moriah, the Passover lamb in Egypt, the statement of John the Baptist about Jesus being the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, and preeminent of all, that marvelous text in Revelation (5:6) where John saw “a Lamb standing as if slain.”

‘Died With’ and ‘Put On’

When God killed a sacrificial animal to provide skins for Adam and Eve to cover their nakedness, that sacrificial Lamb died in their place. They “died with” the lamb on that day, and “put on” the skin of that lamb to cover their guilt and shame. This is sacrificial language. Whoever pays for the sacrifice gets the benefits of that sacrifice (escape from death and forgiveness of sin).

So, when the lamb died physically on that day , they “died with” it, just like we “die with” Christ on the day of our conversion (Rom 6:8; Col 2:20; 2Tim 2:11; cf. Rom 6:4-5; Gal 2:19-20; 1Pet 2:24). They “put on” the skins of the sacrificial lamb in the same way we “put on” Christ in our conversion (Rom 13:14; Eph 4:24; Col 3:10-12; Rev 3:5; 3:18; 19:8; 2Cor 5:21; Rom 5:19; Phlp 3:9), which covers our sin and enables us to stand uncondemned and righteous in God’s presence.

The skin of that animal not only covered their guilt and shame, but also pointed to their new immortal bodies which God would provide through the death of His Son, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29, 36). The prophet Isaiah (53:7 -8) points to this very thing (“like a lamb…cut off…for the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due”). And Revelation 5:6 pictures Christ before the heavenly throne as “a lamb standing as if slain.” God provided the sacrificial Lamb for Himself (Gen. 22:8). When we “die with” Him and “put on” the garments of Christ, we are given hope of life in heaven with a new immortal body.

God promised a redeemer, and the sacrificial system was instituted on that very day to bear witness to the coming Son of Adam who would be the Lamb of God to take away the power of sin and death. He died for us (Rom 5:8; 1Thess 5:10). They “died with” that lamb “on that day,” and thus began the redemptive drama through the substitutionary sacrificial system.


Everything is at stake here for the CBV view. Their whole eschatological system is built on their spiritual-only Death of Adam position. It is the very foundation of their view. They absolutely CANNOT have physical death in any sense included in the kinds of death that were threatened and carried out upon Adam “on the very day he sinned.”

Preston claims (and I agree) that if we wrongly identify the Death of Adam, we will automatically mis-interpret the story of redemption, wrongly construct eschatology, and wrongly identify the nature of the resurrection in the whole New Testament. This means that if the CBV has mis-identified the Death of Adam as being spiritual-only (and they have), then their whole CBV view of eschatology is “wrong” and “misguided” (Preston’s words).

We have shown (and Preston agrees) that no matter what kind of death was threatened against Adam, it had to be carried out on the very same twenty-four-hour day that Adam ate (Genesis 2:17). We also showed that Eve understood that threat to at least include physical death (Genesis 3:1-6). And we saw how an innocent animal did die physically on that day to not only provide a covering for their nakedness, but also to be a substitute sacrifice for the provisional forgiveness of their sin (Genesis 3:21; Hebrews 9:22). That animal died in their place, and they died with it, just like we die with Christ. That began the whole substitutionary sacrificial system which pointed straight to Jesus who was the ultimate fulfillment of that sacrificial typology.

Furthermore, if the threatened death did NOT include physical death, as the CBV contends, then Jesus did NOT need to die physically in order to save us from the Death that Adam introduced through his sin. It would also mean that Christ’s physical death was NOT his substitutionary death for our atonement.

We also noted that Hebrews 9:22 (“without the shedding of Christ’s blood there is no forgiveness”) indisputably shows that physical blood had to be shed in order for us to have forgiveness. So it is not surprising to see the CBV advocates redefine “blood” here in Hebrews 9:22 as being “spiritual blood” and not literal physical blood. They are forced to do that by their “spiritual-only Death of Adam” concept. But that would trample the precious physical blood of Christ underfoot and treat it as unnecessary for our forgiveness and substitutionary atonement.

Thus, we have demonstrated that physical death was included in the kinds of death that were both threatened against Adam and executed on the very day he sinned. This means that the CBV has mis-identified the Death of Adam by saying it was spiritual-only. And therefore, the whole CBV view of eschatology is “wrong” and “misguided.”

Posted in Collective Body View, Eschatology | Leave a comment

Why Do We Still Die?

Edward E. Stevens – May 1, 2024

Advocates of the Collective Body View (CBV) often ask us IBV folks the question that is posed in the title. They base this question on their mistaken belief that the only kind of death that was threatened and carried out against Adam (Gen 2:17) was spiritual death, and therefore the only kind of death Jesus needed to die in order to overcome the death of Adam was likewise spiritual.

Here is their logic:

• Since Adam did not die a physical death on the day he sinned,
• Then physical death cannot be the kind of death that was threatened.
• And since Adam did die a spiritual death on the day he sinned,
• It means that Jesus had to die a spiritual death to overcome it.
• So, since the death threatened against Adam was spiritual-only,
• And since the only kind of death Jesus needed to die was spiritual-only,
• Then the physical death of Jesus was NOT his substitutionary death to overcome the death of

Adam, nor did His physical death save us from dying physically.

They mistakenly think that we IBV folks are teaching that the physical death of Jesus was for the purpose of abolishing physical death, and therefore since physical death has obviously not been abolished for anyone (i.e., all men still die), then physical death could not have been the death that was threatened against Adam, nor could it have been the death that Jesus had to die in order to overcome the death of Adam. That is why the CBV folks claim that the death that was defeated by Christ must have been spiritual death only.

However, in the associated article (Death of Adam.pdf) we show why the death threat against Adam (Gen 2:17) DID include a penal physical death which had to be carried out on the very same day that Adam sinned – NOT at his natural death nine hundred years later.

That article shows how God sacrificed an innocent animal which died as a substitute for Adam on the very day he sinned (Gen 3:21), and that substitutionary sacrifice was a TYPE which pointed straight to Jesus who would likewise die physically as our full and final substitute sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 9:22). Be sure to read that article to get the full story on this.

So, here is the logic behind their CBV question:

• If the death threatened against Adam was physical death,
• And if the physical death of Jesus overcame that physical death of Adam,
• Then there should no longer be any physical death.
• Therefore, why do we still die physically?

Of course, the short answer to their question is simply that we still die physically for the same reason Adam died physically after he left the Garden. It is because he lost access to the Tree of Life which would have sustained his life on earth forever. And all of his descendants, including us today, still die physically because we do not have access to the Tree of Life (immortality). That access is reserved in heaven for us.

And it was an act of mercy and grace on God’s part to remove Adam from the Garden and allow him to die so that he would not be doomed to live forever on earth separated from God. God wanted Adam to dwell with him in heaven where he would once again have access to the Tree of Life and live forever.

However, even though the Tree of Life was restored to the saints at the Parousia, full experiential access to it is only found in heaven. That is why those first century saints had to be taken to heaven in order to eat from the Tree and have eternal life (immortality). All of us saints after the Parousia have the same right to eat from the Tree of Life, but we have to die and go to heaven before we can experience the full immortal benefits of it.

Thus, the Tree of Life (immortality, eternal life) is just like perfection, knowing fully as we are known, seeing Christ face-to-face, and all the other things that were supposed to arrive at the Parousia. They arrived once-for-all back then, and they are available NOW (in heaven), but NOT HERE (on earth). They are reserved in heaven for us, and we have to go to heaven at death to take possession of them and experience them in their fullness.

I hope that helped. Be sure to take a look at the other document (Death of Adam.pdf) that was attached to this same email. And feel free to email me and ask for more info on this.

Posted in Collective Body View, Eschatology | Leave a comment

Understanding the phrase “Flesh and Blood”

by Dan Norcini

Within the Preterist system of eschatology, there now exists a particular interpretation of some expressions that are used in the New Testament, which are a radical departure from their usual historical meaning. The system I am referring to can best be summed up as the “Corporate Body View” (CBV for short).

What those who adhere to and who are teaching this view have done is to take a number of the passages that have historically been understood as referring to Individual Christians (Individual Body View or IBV for short) and apply them to the church corporately. In other words, passages which were understood as referring to individual Christians are now interpreted to refer to the church considered as a “body”.

The resurrection passage of 1 Corinthians 15 is a good example of their hermeneutic. Without going into depth, suffice it to say that what has historically been understood throughout most of church history to be referring to the change in Christians upon death when they receive an incorruptible, immortal body that fits them for their eternal inheritance, the proponents of the CBV state that this is not the case. They argue that the change spoken of by the Apostle Paul is the change that the Church underwent with the destruction of the Jewish Temple in 70AD by the Roman army, when the last vestige of the Old Covenant was swept away making room for the New Covenant age. In other words, the “great change” is not dealing with the change in the nature of believers’ bodies, but rather the change in the state of the Church corporately as it enters into the fulness of the New Covenant.

It is not the purpose of this particular paper to deal with what this writer considers to be a gross mischaracterization of the Apostle’s words, but rather how the CBV teachers have sadly been forced to change the simple and obvious meanings of phrases and words in the New Testament in order to support their paradigm, a paradigm which I believe is doing great harm to the Preterist view of eschatology.

Consider the following text of Scripture:

“ Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed,” ( 1 Cor 15:50-51)

As one example of how these teachers are wresting the meaning of phrases, they argue that the “change” spoken of by Paul, refers to the change in the status of all believers under the full implementation of the New Covenant. It is more of a change in the mind, when the church corporately (the Church considered as a body) moves out from under the shadow of the Old Covenant which was still existing at the time Paul penned this letter to the church at Corinth, and enters into the age of the New Covenant in its fulness. What has historically been understood as the resurrection of the body and the change in its nature, has now been reinterpreted to mean more of a raising to a new and different status, an enlightenment of the mind in which the church reaches maturity in its understanding.

Needless to say, this is quite a radical departure from the historical understanding of this passage.

In explaining this passage, the CBV teachers take the phrase, “that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God”, and tell us that this means those under the Old Covenant. They cite no proof for this redefining of the expression, “flesh and blood”; they simply assert that this is the meaning of the phrase, and then move on to their novel interpretation of the verse.

Perhaps the best way to try to convince those who have adopted this view, is to understand the phrase by referencing other places in the New Testament in which it has been used.

Here are those passages:

“Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” 15 He *said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. (Matt 16:13-17)

Here, Matthew records the event in which Jesus is questioning His disciples as to how the public of His day views Him. When Peter provides the answer, that Jesus is indeed the long awaited promised Messiah, the Son of God ( see Psalm 2:7 as one reference declaring the Messiah was to be the Son of God), Jesus uses the expression, “flesh and blood”.

This is one of several uses of this expression which we will find in the New Testament. It is evident from its use here, that Jesus is telling Peter that mortal men, unaided by any direct revelation from God, could not have revealed this truth to Peter, but rather it was a direct revelation by God the Father that came to Peter through the instrumentality of the Holy Spirit – the spirit of wisdom and revelation.

Let’s try substituting the meaning of this phrase using the definition of the CBV teachers.

Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because men living under the Old Covenant did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.

Hmmm….There is some truth in that since at the time Jesus was questioning His disciples, the people of the day are certainly living under the Old Covenant. Those certainly had not instructed Peter who Jesus was in truth. So while the interpretation given of the phrase by the CBV folks is not what has historically been used with this passage, it is not outlandish even if it is a bit odd.

Let’s move onto the next usage of the phrase:

“But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased 16 to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus.” (Gal 1: 15-17)

Here the Apostle Paul is writing to the churches throughout the Galatian region and telling them what he did after his conversion. Notice that he did not seek guidance from mortal men as to what he should do next but instead retreated to the solitude of Arabia, where more than likely he used the time to reflect and rethink his entire understanding of the Scriptures and its prophecies. In other words, there were none he could turn do and give him counsel so he followed the inward working of his spirit and left for Arabia.

In the usage of the phrase in this passage, it is clear that “flesh and blood” means flawed, fallible men, men who are oftentimes unsure of their own direction in life. Why would the apostle seek guidance from such after such a heavenly encounter and a shattering of all that he once held dear as far as his own understanding of truth.

Following our methodology, here would be the CBV interpretation:

“But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, was pleased 16 to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with men living under the Old Covenant 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus.” (Gal 1: 15-17)

As is the case with the first example out of Matthew’s gospel – a bit odd of an interpretation, but not all that outlandish considering that the only possible men that the apostle would have consulted with might have been his former Jewish friends and acquaintances from his pre-conversion days, no doubt living under the Old Covenant.

Moving along:

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6:12)

Here the contrast is between mortal human beings and demonic forces that shape the political and philosophical ideologies that govern the world system of not only that day, but ours as well. “Flesh and blood”, is used to exaggerate the stark difference between weak men, and powerful spiritual entities. Men who are liable to death and attack as opposed to entities that cannot be conquered or vanquished by any sort of physical weapon of the day or any other means that men had devised to wreak havoc and ruin upon those who opposed them.

Try substituting the CBV view here:

“For our struggle is not against men living under the Old Covenant, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6:12)

It is now that we are beginning to see the error in the CBV explanation of the phrase. Quite frankly, redefining the expression using their definition, makes the entire passage inaccurate to the point of folly. While the Jews of Paul’s day were living under the Old Covenant and were indeed involved in fierce persecution of the early church, the Gentiles of his day, were certainly not under the Old Covenant and yet opposition to the spread of the gospel involved them as well.

As a matter of fact, these Gentiles had never even heard of the term” the Covenant of Moses”, the Mosaic Law, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc, or any of the Hebrew prophets who had all foretold the coming of a New Covenant.

If one thinks back to Paul’s experience in the city of Ephesus, we find that Paul and his companions were fiercely set upon by Gentile worshippers of the goddess Artemis ( Diana). ( See Acts 19: 23-41). None of these Gentiles were men living under the Old Covenant, a covenant that they had no knowledge of nor knew of its existence. Yet the letter to the Ephesians and the passage in its sixth chapter noted above, is directed towards the church at the very city where this attack, this “struggle” had taken place.

It is clear that the phrase “flesh and blood” cannot simply mean, men living under the Old Covenant.

Here we are beginning to see what we will conclusively see in our next verses quoted, namely, that the expression, “flesh and blood” is a figure of speech, a metonymy to be exact. The best way to understand it comes from the passage in Hebrews 2 which I quote in full to help convey the proper understanding of the phrase:

“But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for all. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings. 11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 saying,



And again,


And again,


Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. 16 For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. 17 Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. (Hebrews 2: 9-17)

Here the metonymy is used to convey quite forcefully, a supreme Scriptural truth – namely, Jesus had to become like His children in ALL THINGS.


For two important reasons:

First, under the Law of Moses, a type was set forth pointing to a greater antitype. This was the Kinsman Redeemer.

The relevant passages are found in Leviticus:

Now if the means of a stranger or of a sojourner with you becomes sufficient, and a countryman of yours becomes so poor with regard to him as to sell himself to a stranger who is sojourning with you, or to the descendants of a stranger’s family, 48 then he shall have redemption right after he has been sold. One of his brothers may redeem him, 49 or his uncle, or his uncle’s son, may redeem him, or one of his blood relatives from his family may redeem him; or if he prospers, he may redeem himself.” (Lev 25:47-49)

Please observe that the redeemer had to be a blood relative to buy his freedom if he was too poor to put up his own redemption price.

This “goel” (Hebrew go el) could buy back the land of one of his relatives that had been sold to pay a debt or to buy back the freedom of one of his relatives if the poor soul had no choice but to sell himself into servitude to pay off a debt.

The important thing here, and that which the apostle Paul is reminding the Hebrews to whom he is primarily writing in his day, is that the promised Messiah, this Jesus, was that he had to made in all things like His brethren whom He would come to redeem from their sins. This meant that He had to become a partaker of their nature, or else He would not have fit the type laid out in Leviticus of being related to them by blood.

This is the first point. The second important point follows from the first.

It was necessary that this kinsman redeemer be made a “little while lower than the angels”. Why? In order that He might be able to suffer death, tasting it as the apostle states.(verse 9).

Verse 14 then repeats the same premise:

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, (Hebrews 2: 14)

In other words, this Son of God ( Hebrews 1:2), this heir of all things, this exact representation of God’s nature who upholds all things by the word of His power, had to take upon Himself human nature to become like His children, for this one reason, He HAD TO BE ABLE TO SUFFER AND DIE. God Himself is Immortal, He cannot die since He has no beginning and no end. Yet, if redemption of the children were to be accomplished, it would take a man, liable to suffer and death, to complete it.

The point is clear – the phrase, “flesh and blood” is a figure of speech meaning man, as he is frail, liable to pain and suffering, liable to death. It means that and that alone. Any other so-called interpretation of that phrase, such as that employed by the teachers within the CBV movement, renders this passage inexplicable and totally outside of the clear context.

Let’s try it and see:

“Therefore, since the children share in being men living under the Old Covenant, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.16 For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham.17 Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. (Hebrews 2: 14-17)

Again, referring back to verse 9, that Jesus had to be made for a little while lower than the angels, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for all….

What does this have to do with the Old Covenant in this context? The correct answer is NOTHING!

The reason He had to become flesh and blood (also being defined as being made for a little while lower than the angels) is for the sole purpose of being able to suffer death. The entire passage we have been referring to states the necessity of Jesus becoming flesh and blood and that purpose was to be able to suffer and die. Look at how often we see the words, suffered, sufferings, death, in this passage.

This is NOT COVENANTAL language of any sort. It is language that shows the necessity of Jesus becoming fully man to shed His blood and suffer a cruel death on the cross. The meaning therefore of the phrase “flesh and blood” is simply this:

Mankind, liable to pain, suffering, weariness, sorrow, heartache and death. Jesus became a man so that He could fully experience these things and in so doing, render Him a perfect and faithful High Priest, who having experienced the same, could sympathize with the temptations and weaknesses and sufferings of those for whom He ever lives to make intercession:

“Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. (Hebrews 2: 17-18)

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)

“Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25)

This should be conclusive enough proof to the fair-minded individual seeking truth who are not blindly married to a paradigm which requires them to come up with forced and tortured explanations of the simple and clear meaning of Scripture. But we will go the extra mile to try to dispel any objections to these things.

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, (Hebrews 2: 14)

Some of those holding to CBV might argue that “the children” spoken of here, would certainly include Jews living under the Old Covenant, and therefore their interpretation of the phrase, “flesh and blood”, as men living under the Old Covenant would still be a valid understanding. After all, they might argue, that Paul is writing to Jewish believers, all of whom were formerly living under the Old Covenant.

The problem with this however is that the definition is far too narrow since it excludes a significant portion of the entire seed of Abraham. We are clearly taught in the New Testament that this seed of Abraham includes ALL THOSE, both Jew and Gentiles, for whom Jesus gave His life and who would come to embrace Him through faith. As previously mentioned above, there was not a single GENTILE EVER LIVING under the Old Covenant. Paul specifically excludes them from that covenant in his letter to the Ephesians:

“Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Eph 2: 11-13)

The seed of Abraham, as Paul reminds the Galatian church, are all those who have faith in


“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.” (Gal 3:26-29)

“For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. 17 Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. (Hebrews 2: 14-17)

Note well, Jesus had to partake of flesh and blood, to give help to ALL the DESCENDANTS of Abraham ( Seed of Abraham); not just the Jewish portion of believers but also of the Gentiles.

In closing, let’s go back to the first Scripture verse we quoted to begin this essay.

“Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed,” ( 1 Cor 15:50-51)

One last time, we will use the CBV interpretation of these verses:

“Now I say this, brethren, that men living under the Old Covenant cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed,” ( 1 Cor 15:50-51)

It is this writer’s firm hope, that those advocating for the novel view that has been espoused by the CBV teachers, will come to see the folly in force fitting a strange and radical view of the phrase, “flesh and blood” into a passage that has nothing to do with a change in Covenants but rather is stating the obvious and long-held historical belief of the church. Mankind, considered in its weak form, liable to suffering, sorrow and death, sickness and disease, etc. cannot inherit the kingdom of God. For that, a change, a great change, is required. The corruptible, frail, mortal body, the state of being liable to death, must be changed to something fit for its heavenly inheritance which as the apostle Peter tells the church of his day:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.…” (1 Peter 1: 3-5)

The church’s inheritance is RESERVED in HEAVEN. There is the Land of Promise. While we may experience a foretaste of that blessed state in this life, (and there are indeed times when the Lord is pleased to grant those who love Him such a taste) the fulness remains for all believers upon death. Death has been conquered and defeated. It’s sting has been removed by its great Conqueror, the Lord Christ. It has lost its power to harm any true child of God and they no longer need have any fear of it. Instead, the great enemy of mankind, has now been transformed as the means through which the child of God enters into eternal bliss; the gateway or portal whereby he or she beholds the Celestial City of Bunyan’s ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’, no longer through the eye of faith as we currently see it, but in reality, in experience and in truth.

This is the reason Paul wrote to the church at Philippi and told them:

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. 23 But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; 24 yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again.” (Phil 1:21-26)

The apostle longed for his entrance into the eternal inheritance even with all the great knowledge he had of gospel truths and all the riches he taught that those in Christ already possessed. They had already come to Mt. Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to myriads of angels, to the generally assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new and better covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel. (Hebrews 12:22-24).

He knew and taught these things to not only Jewish believers but to all the churches and yet, even knowing these things and laying hold of them through faith, he still knew something far above and beyond the assurance of these things remained for him to personally experience upon his entrance into heaven to be with His beloved Lord.

Their faith would be swallowed up in sight, Hope fulfilled and love for Christ undimmed by human weakness and frailty.

May the Lord bless this essay to its readers.

Daniel Norcini SS

Posted in Collective Body View, Eschatology | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Bible, Eschatology, Norcini | Leave a comment

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.

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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.”

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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! https://nypost.com/2022/12/30/time-magazine-roasted-for-article-suggesting-exercise-has-racist-origins/

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. https://youtu.be/nYIJxoh7gqw

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. https://youtu.be/T0L360W5bc0

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. https://youtu.be/QAkQlZgnbUQ 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. 

Posted in Vaccines | Leave a comment