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Eschatology in the Gospel of John

By:  Michael J. Sullivan

Copyright 2008

John 1 – 4

While a postmillennial partial preterist, David Chilton observed that the Gospel of John begins declaring Christ and His followers to be the new-covenant creation foretold in the old-testament scriptures:      

“In many more ways, Edenic imagery is taken up and expanded in the New Testament, which records the fulfillment of the promises of the New Creation in Christ.  An obvious passage, of course, is John’s prologue (John 1:1-18), which begins where Genesis does:  “In the beginning.”  We see the same concepts – the Word, creation, life, the light shining in darkness and overcoming it; and John says of Christ that He dwelt (literally, tabernacled) among us, and we beheld His glory” (John 1:14; cf. Ex. 40:34).  John’s point here is to demonstrate that Jesus Christ is the full revelation of God’s presence with His people (cf. Matt. 1:23). But John’s entire Gospel is built on Old Testament imagery.  For example, the passage following his Prologue (John 1:19-2:11) contains a subtle, seven-day structure that is meant to remind us of the original seven days of creation (as well as numerous other Old Testament parallels).  On the first day, John the Baptist appears as “a voice of one crying in the wilderness” (1:23; cf. Gen. 1:2-3).  The next day, as Jesus is baptized (baptism is a recapitulation of two Old Testament re-creation events:  the Flood [1Pet. 3:20-21] and the Red Sea crossing [1Cor. 10:1-2]), the Spirit descends with wings, hovering and fluttering over the waters of the New Creation – and He comes as a dove, the winged messenger that announced to Noah the re-creation of the world 91:32-33; cf. gen. 8:11).  The passage continues with other creation-images, and turning the water  (cf. Gen.1:2ff.) into wine – the best wine (John 2:1-11).  The blessing is superabundant, more than is necessary (about 150 gallons), as a forerunner of the promised blessings of the Garden which would come through Him (Gen. 49:10-12; Isa. 25:6; Amos 9:13-14; Jer.33:10-11).  Just before He does this, He mentions the hour of His Atonement.  And thus, by this miracle on the Seventh Day, Jesus “manifested His glory” (John 2:11) – just as God had done by His enthronement in the Cloud on the first Sabbath.  But when God is seated at rest upon His throne, He sits as Judge, examining His Creation-Temple; and when He first found wickedness therein, He cleansed it, banishing the offenders (Gen. 3:24).  Similarly, the next event in John’s Gospel shows the Lord assessing the Temple and coming in Judgment against those who defiled it (John 2:12-22).  (The Sabbath is when we appear before God’s throne of judgment to be examined; and if we are approved, we enter into His Rest [Heb. 3-4]).  The people in the Temple on this Sabbath were guilty, and He banished them in a terrifying- and noisy – manifestation of judgment; an image of the first and final Days of the Lord (see below, Chapter 15).  He then declared His body – Himself personally and His Body the Church – to be the true Temple (John 2:18-22), for the physical resurrection of Christ’s body is the foundation for His people’s being constituted as the Temple (Ephs. 1:20; 2:5-6, 19-22; 1Cor. 3:10-11, 16-17).  As God’s Temple, the Church is re-admitted to Eden and filled with the Spirit and glory of God (Ex. 40:34; Num. 9:15; Joel 2:28-31; Acts 2:1-4, 16-21).  The Church is God’s new Garden-Temple, restored to God’s original mandate for man:  to have dominion over the earth, expanding the Garden until it covers the whole earth.  In remaking us in His image, God has given us His presence.  He has taken up residence in His Temple, and has promised to be with us as we fulfill His command to the ends of the earth (Matt.28:18-20).”[1] 

The Holy Spirit “overshadowing” or “brooding” over Marry while Jesus is being conceived in her womb (Lk.1:35) is (Gen.1:2) language communicating that Jesus is the true and eternal new creation.  Indeed He is the cosmic tabernacle/temple (Jn.1:14) and the “last Adam” (1Cor.15:45) who has come to give to man what Adam never achieved “eternal life” — a predominant theme in John.  Thus all those who put their faith in Him will abide in Him as the new creation of God.  Jesus is the anti-type to the rivers of water that flowed in the Garden of Eden making the hearts of men a Garden producing the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Jn.4:10ff/Jn.7:38/Ezk.47/Rev.21-22:12; Isa.35, Isa.44, Gals.5).  He is also the antitype to the glory of the gold and precious medals described in Eden, because He imparts the wealth of His righteousness to lost sinners.   Jesus in John 3 tells us how one enters this new creation or the kingdom.  One needs to be “born from above” where the new-covenant life comes from in order to “see the kingdom” (Jn.3:3).  Jesus taught that when the kingdom would come in its fullness associated with His return in their “this generation,” it would not come with physical observation but be realized in the realm of being “within” the person (Lk.21:20-37/Lk.21:27-32).  Unlike many humanist religious teachings both ancient and modern,  Jesus clearly teaches man is not neutral and left to himself “hates” God/Jesus/Light and will not come (in faith) to Him unless God sovereignly causes him to be born from above and thus enables him to “see” (believe in) His teachings (cf. 6:44).  Those who believed in Jesus during His earthly ministry had the “already” aspect of “eternal life” but those who rejected Jesus, the wrath of God abided upon them verse 36.  There is also a corporate aspect to the old-covenant kingdom needing to be born again or transformed into the new, of which Nicodemus whom was a teacher of Israel should have understood from the teachings of (Ezk.36-37; Isa.44:1-4).  Jesus Himself was not born again until His resurrection (Acts 13:33; Col.1:18).  The Church as a corporate body and the restored new Israel of God needed to recapitulate what Christ had undergone and “fill up what was lacking in the sufferings of Christ” and thus be raised, transformed, and born again as well – this occurring in A.D. 70.  Both John the Baptist and Paul could be considered the “best man” of Jesus introducing and betrothing the bride to the Groom (Jn.3:29; 2Cor.11:2).  John is preparing the Jewish side of the bride to meet Jesus through repentance, whereas Paul the gentile – together they become “the Bride.”  John the Baptist has ushered in the “last days” and God is “betrothing” His Bride in the “wilderness” (Hos.2:14-19; 3:5).                         

1)  Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.  “You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.  “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.  “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (Jn.4:21-24)

Jesus is referring to the judgment upon Jerusalem when He mentions “an hour is coming” as the “not yet” of His eschatology here in discussing a mountain and temple worship with the Samaritan woman.  Jesus’ answer is a post A.D.70 answer concerning a time when a localized place of temple worship will be meaningless (Jn.4:19-21; cf. Hebs.9:6-10; Heb.12).  There are other eschatological themes such as the harvest which brings with it the Great Commission and resurrection motifs.  There is only one new-covenant “harvest” and it involves the harvesting of souls unto “eternal life” and would occur at the end of the old-covenant “this age” Jesus and His audience were living in (Jn.4:35ff./Mt.3:10-12/Mt.13:37-43).  There are not two different kinds of harvests, one evangelistic and spiritual and the other involving a literal resurrection of corpses at the end of time.  John in Revelation describes the end of the same harvest at the end of the old-covenant age as something that would “shortly” take place and was “at hand” (Rev.1:1, 3 <–Rev.14–> Rev.22:7, 10, 12, 20).  Jesus also instructs us that “salvation is of the Jews” (Jn.4:22) therefore this further confirms the harvest/resurrection occurs at the end of “Jews” old-covenant age.  The resurrection/harvest theme is coinciding with the Bride theme that was introduced previously with John the Baptist.  Samaritans were “half-breeds” that were the product of intermarriage and a “scattering” and “sowing” that occurred with the Assyrian captivity.  A Samaritan woman who is ½ Jew and ½ Gentile is a fitting representation of the Bride of Christ – for He has reconciled the two into one new body.  The parallels of Jacob finding his wife with Jesus finding His are striking:  1)  Jacob left his home country to find a bride.  Jesus left heaven to find His Bride.  2)  Jacob had a dream of a ladder and anointed a stone.  3)  John the Baptist finds a stone (Jesus) and anoints Him – the very ladder Jacob dreamed of (Jn.1:51).  Jacob found his bride at this well at “high day.”   Jesus met with the Samaritan woman at the same well at the sixth hour or noon time.  4)  Jacob had 12 sons that comprised the old-covenant bride of Israel.  Jesus appoints 12 disciples representing the new-covenant and transformed Israel/Bride.  This woman is marred and has had 6 men in her life finding no rest and contentment until finding Jesus — the 7th.[2]  Shiloh/Jesus is the Sabbath rest who is beginning a “gathering” that will be completed at harvest time at His return in His contemporary generation (Gen.49:1, 10; Mt.24:30-31, 34; Hebs.3-4, 10:25, 37).               

2)  “For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will.”  “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.  “Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.  “For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, “and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice “and come forth––those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” (Jn. 5:21, 24-29)

It has been creedally assumed by Mathison that Jesus taught two kinds of resurrections in John 5:  1) the first spiritual associated with the gospel in verses 25-27 because of Jesus’ statement of “the hour (or time) is coming and now is” and 2) a literal bodily one at the end of time because of Jesus’ statement “Marvel not at this: for the hour (or time) is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice…”  (WSTTB?, pp.172-173).  Mathison in n.20 on page 174 claims the same concept of a “spiritual already” and then a literal future “not yet” is taught by Jesus in (Jn.4:21-24) and thus the two should be considered  parallel of which we agree!  But we know the “not yet” of “the hour is coming” or “the time is coming” of John 4 is not refering to a 2000 + years away eschatological event, but when Jerusalem and the temple is destroyed in A.D. 70.  In fact Mathison’s co-author Kenneth Gentry sees Jesus’ eschatological “not yet” “the hour is coming” as we do – to be referring to the judgment upon Jerusalem and the destruction of her temple in A.D. 70.[3]  Therefore, Mathison’s paralleling Jesus’ statements in John 4 and John 5 combined with Gentry’s A.D. 70 fulfillment of John 4 makes our case.  Not just that, but since Gentry has recently taken the position that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 was fulfilled in AD 70, it should be pointed out that clearly Jesus and John are following the “hour” of the (OG) LXX of Daniel 12:2:

Daniel 12:1:  “And at that hour…” John 5:28:  “…for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice,
Daniel 12:2:  “Many of those who sleep in the width of the earth will arise [anatesontai]…some unto eternal life and others to reproach…and to eternal shame.”
John 5:29:  “and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection [anatasin] of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection [anatasin] of judgment.”
Also related:

1 John 2:18:  “Dear children it is the last hour…”

Revelation 14:7:  “…the hour of His judgment has come.”


Jesus teaches us that He raises the dead just as He had seen His Father do (Jn.5:21).  The Father had raised the dead in the old testament corporately, spiritually, and covenantally by bringing both houses of Israel back into her land under Ezra and Nehemiah (Ezk.37, Isa.26-27) which served as a type of the resurrection life Christ was bringing.  Jesus is teaching two phases of one resurrection, not two different kinds of resurrections!  In both passages marked “A” below, the already and not yet are taught:

A)  “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth (spiritual & “already”) my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life (spiritual & “already”), and shall not come into condemnation (spiritual “already” or “not yet”); but is passed from death unto life (spiritual & “already”).  25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, (a phrase connecting the same subject matter to what follows) The hour is coming (in the not too distant “not yet” of the spiritual resurrection described above), and now is (spiritual & “already”), when the dead (spiritual) shall hear (spiritually) the voice (spiritually) of the Son of God: and they that hear (spiritually) shall live (spiritually).   

Before picking back up the same subject matter of the spiritual resurrection, Jesus goes back to a theme in verses 21-22 of Him getting life from the Father and having the authority to not only give that life but render judgment upon unbelievers:    

B)  26  For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; 27  And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.   

A)  28  Marvel not at this (that the Son has the authority to give life and judge): for the hour is coming, (the spiritual not to distant “not yet”)  in the which all that are in the graves (spiritually dead) shall hear (spiritually) his voice (spiritually), 29  And shall come forth (spiritually); they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life (spiritual “not yet”); and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection (spiritual) of damnation.   

B)  30  I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.This is simple Hebrew parallelism:

A.     (verses 24-25) Two phases of ONE resurrection with an “already” and “not yet” of those coming out of a spiritual death into a spiritual life/resurrection.

B.     (verses 26-27) Jesus has the authority to give this spiritual life (as stated above) and render judgment because His authority comes from the Father.

A.     (verses 28-29) “Marvel not at this” – that the Son has this authority & the Messianic harvest of Israel is under way.  Jesus now is picking back up the same spiritual “already” and “not yet” resurrection in the previous verses.  Here there is an emphasis on the judgment aspect. 

B.     (verses 30) Jesus’ judgment in this resurrection is once again just, because it comes from observing the Father and having a dependence on Him.   

It is pure eisegesis to assume that the “hearing,” everlasting life,” “shall not come into condemnation,” has “passed from death unto life” are all referring to a spiritual resurrection, but then what follows is a literal resurrection at the end of time.  Likewise the “the dead” “hearing” “the voice” and “will live” are all spiritual in verse 25, as are the “all that are in the graves” whom shall “hear” his “voice.”  The following context follows suite, “the dead” are equivalent to the same subjects as “all that are in the graves” (whom have done good or evil) with the “hearing,” “voice,” and “will live” being spiritual just as they were in the previous verses.  This is very simple but for Mathison and his creedal colleagues, the text “causes difficulty” because they can’t quite figure out which events are spiritual and which ones are allegedly literal.  The old testament background here to “the dead” and those in “the graves” would be (Ezk.37:12-13).  Because of the wicked among Israel and their abuse of the godly remnant and the Sabbath, Israel went eastward into slavery and death into the land of Babylon for 70 years.  The land would receive its Sabbatical rest for 70 years and then God called Cyrus to be the deliverer who would set the captives free at the end of those years to return to their land.  God would raise them up by calling Ezra and Nehemiah to call Israel to repentance and come back into the land and rebuild the City.  The Jews during the time of Jesus were still abusing the Sabbath and the poor (Jn.5:1-19) and as the Father had the authority to judge and raise them from the “graves” of the Babylonian captivity/death in verse 21, so too did the Son have the authority to set those free whom had been enslaved to sin!

The 1John 2:17-18 & Rev.14 Connections


Towards the end of John’s “this generation” (Mt.24:34), He wrote that He and his audience knew it was the “last hour” (1Jn.2:17-18).  In Gentry’s debate with futurists on the book of Revelation he accurately states, “Similar notes of the temporal proximity of divinely governed cries abound in the New Testament (see Matt. 26:64; Acts 2:16-20; Rom. 13:11-12; 16:20; 1Cor.7:26, 29-31; Col. 3:6; 1Thess.2:16; Heb. 10:25, 37; James 5:8-9; 1Pet.4:5, 7; 1John 2:17-18).  How else could the New Testament express nearness more clearly?[4]  Since Mathison takes John’s “last hour” and stretches 2000+ years post A.D.70, we shall let Mathison, Strimple, Kistemacker, and their co-authors answer Gentry’s question here.  Most commentators agree that the analogy of Scripture parallels John’s teaching on the resurrection “the hour is coming” in (Jn.5), with “it is the last hour” in (1Jn.2:17-18), and with “for the hour of his judgment is come:” in (Rev.14:7).  Mathison doesn’t even touch (Rev.14) in connection with the resurrection of (Jn.5) and the “last hour” of (1Jn.2), and in another work this is all he has to say of the entire chapter of (Rev.14), “Chapter 14 is a vision of the fall of Jerusalem, referred to here as “Babylon the great” (14:8).  As we will see in chapters 17-18, the evidence that “Babylon” is a symbolic description of Jerusalem is compelling.  At this point, we merely note that this “great city” has already been identified as Jerusalem in 11:8; where she is referred to as Sodom and Egyp.  In chapter 14, she is also called Babylon.” (Postmillennialism, pp.152-153).   And somehow we are the ones guilty of giving “shallow exegesis”?!? 





What Mathison creedally and conveniently fails to cover here is that the time of Jerusalem’s/Babylon’s destruction is the time when one like the Son of Man comes on a cloud to reap the great harvest/resurrection of the earth/land and judgment is rendered for the wicked and the works of the righteous follow them into God’s presence (14:10-20).  Mathison makes the parallel with Revelation 11 and 14 but once again fails to note that the time of the judgment of the city in chapter 11 is likewise the time of the judgment (thus the resurrection) “of the dead,” and thus access into God’s Most Holy Place presence is given (Rev.11:18-19; cf. Heb.9:6-10).  Study Bibles and commentaries alike see the connection between the harvesting/resurrection of the wicked and their blood extending “outside the City” for “a distance of 1,600 stadia” in verses 19-20 to be descriptive of being “outside Jerusalem” (Heb.13:12) and the distance of Israel’s Land within the localized Palestinian region extending from North to South or from Tyre to the border of Egypt.[5] David Chilton correctly wrote, “…The whole Land of Israel is thus represented as overflowing with blood in the coming nationwide judgment.  The streams of running blood become a great Red Sea, reaching up to the horses’ bridles in a recapitulation of the overthrow of Pharaoh’s horses and chariots (Ex. 14:23, 38; 15:19; cf. the extensive use of Exodus imagery in the following chapter).”  And “The bloodshed covers the Land, yet it is outsde the City.  The historical fulfillment of this was, form one perspective, when “Galilee was all over filled with fire and blood,” as the troops of Vespasian and Titus overran the county.  The whole Land, except for Jerusalem, was covered with death and devastation.”[6]


Mathison instead of cherry-picking around Revelation needs to submit to the teaching of the prophecy and become a Biblical preterist like Chilton did.  Obviously Mathison’s conscience is bothering him since he does not allow John to interpret John in the crucial texts on the resurrection.  Nor will he even reference or recommend David Chilton as one of the greatest postmillennial partial or full preterists that has ever been in print because he had the courage and honesty that Mathison obviously lacks (Postmillennialism, pp.52-53, 273-275).  The other eschatological themes involved here in regards to the resurrection and judgment of “the dead” in (Jn.5/Rev.14) and the 144,000 (Rev.7:4-17), is that this takes place in a time frame synonymous with this group coming out of the great tribulation and the destruction of the City and temple as (Dan.12:1-7) so clearly teaches.  We have allowed Gentry to ask a question on imminence in (1Jn.2:17-18) to his co-authors, but I have some for him now in returning back to (Jn.4-5; 1Jn.2:17-18; Rev.7-14; Dan.12/Mt.24). 

1)  How does the eschatological “not yet” “hour is coming” in (Jn.4) apply to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and then the same phrase “the hour is coming” as used by Jesus in (Jn.5) gets projected 2000+ years away when in fact the resurrection would occur when Jerusalem and the Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70 Dan.12:1-7/Mt.24:15, 30-31/Lk.21:22? 

2)  How does John’s “not yet” resurrection “the hour is coming” in (Jn.4-5) not get fulfilled in his “it is the last hour” “clear nearness” A.D. 70 statement of (1Jn.2:17-18)? 

Simon Kistemacker makes the following parallels between John’s teaching on the resurrection in John 5 with that of Rev.20:    

Fourth Gospel


A. First Resurrection

A. First Resurrection

I most solemnly assure you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me has everlasting life … has passed out of death into life. I most solemnly assure you, the hour is coming — yea, has already arrived! — when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.

“… and I saw the souls of them that had been beheaded … and such as worshiped not the beast, neither his image, and received not the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.… This is the first resurrection.

… and (he) does not come into condemnation. (For the solemn introductory formula see on 1:51.)

“Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection: over these the second death has no power.”

B. Second Resurrection
(unto judgment)

B. Second Resurrection
(unto judgment)

Stop being surprised about this, for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out: those who have done good, for the resurrection of life, and those who have practiced evil, for the resurrection of condemnation.

“And I saw a great white throne and him who sat upon it.… And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne; and books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works: And the sea gave up the dead that were in it; and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.… And if any was not found in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire.”


We too make the parallels, but again we see two phases of ONE resurrection for “the dead” (both righteous and wicked) occurring at the end of the old-covenant age, not two kinds – one spiritual and one physical being taught by Jesus and John.  Possibly during Jesus’ ministry the “already” of the resurrection harvest had begun, but with the Holy Spirit being poured out on Pentecost, the “already” and “inauguration” stage of the new creation and “firstfruits” (Rev.14:4-20) resurrection had most definitely begun.  The “second” phase of the harvest/resurrection included the harvest “gathering” of these souls into the kingdom / new creation of God in a “end of this age,” “this generation,” “at hand,” “soon,” “some standing here,” time frame (Mt.13:39-43; 24:30-31, 34 –25; Rev.1:1, 22:12/Mt.16:27-28).  Since the resurrection includes the souls of those whom had died prior to A.D. 70, the continuity of a spiritual resurrection of souls remains the same.  In farming one does not begin with the firstfruits of grain and then at harvest time bring in something completely different such as bananas.  This was a resurrection of “souls” from the time of the firstfruits to the harvest!               

3)  I will raise him up on the last day (Jn.6:39-40, 44, 54)

Within the immediate context of (Jn.6:39) there is nothing but spiritual fulfillment.  Jesus is the spiritual bread and water in verse 35 who gives spiritual life in verse 33.  Immediately following verse 39, Jesus says, “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”  So once again we have the spiritual “already” of “everlasting life,” and the “not yet” of John’s audience being raised up at the “last day” or as previously described as “the hour is coming.”  Mathison denies the text even has an “already” aspect to it (WSTTB?, p.174) trying to distance the text from (Jn.4-5)’s spiritual water, harvest, and resurrection that were apart of the “already” of “the hour is coming.”  And yet he appears to miss the “already” of Jesus’ teaching in (Jn.4) on picking back up the spiritual water and thirst theme in (Jn.6:35) and the “already” of “everlasting life.”  in verse 47.  Either way there is nothing in the text that demands a casket resurrection of physical corpses coming out of the ground at the end of time.  Thus far from John 1 – 6 all we have seen is how Jesus and His followers are the new creation and He sums up His teaching with the simple and straightforward words, “the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (Jn.6:63).  God accomplished redemption for all of His elect in the “last day” of the old-covenant age, and has nothing to do with the last day of time.  Reformed futurists have no problem seeing why God could perform a universal redemption for His elect within a first century time frame and in a local historical setting when it comes to the cross and resurrection of Christ.  But when it comes to Him appearing a second time or coming on the clouds of glory, this somehow HAS to be an end of time literal and global event.[8]  The Bible teaches no such thing! 

4)  “As the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” (Jn. 7:38)  

I addressed this passage in relation to the living water in (Jn.4), to the Temple of (Ezk.47) of which the Church is (2Cor.6:16/Ezk.37:27).  John’s gospel continues to press the theme of Christ and the Kingdom being “in” (Jn.6:53-58) or “within” the person and not something that will transform their corpse someday at the end of time.  The “inauguration” of these living waters is found at Pentecost when “Jews from every nation under heaven” came to Jerusalem and were receiving the “already” of everlasting life through faith, and then went back to these nations to fulfill the great commission at the end of the old-covenant age in A.D. 70 (Acts 2:5/Mrk.13:10/Rms.16:25-26).  The “not yet” of these living waters comes in an “at hand” and “shortly” time frame (Rev.21-22:7, 10, 12, 20) in which the spiritual water of everlasting life continues to heal the nations post A.D.70.  According to Revelation there is no spiritual “inauguration” post A.D. 70 awaiting a physical stage of “resurrection” and “restoration of [literal] creation.”  Such an invention comes from the necessity to defend a system of theology and is not derived from the texts.    

5)  “If you keep My words you will never see death (Jn.8:51)

The Jews were so blinded and self righteous that they wouldn’t even admit that within their history they had been enslaved to the Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, and now the Romans verse 33.  But Christ had come to set them free from what Egypt,  Babylon, and the gentile powers represented – slavery to sin and spiritual death (verses 31-36; Mt.8:22).  Jesus’ statement that anyone believing in him “would never see death,” was taken literally and physically by His carnally minded audience in verse 52.  This is the same theological error that the literal rapturists (futurists or “preterist”) and literal resurrectionists make in interpreting Jesus’ and Paul’s words of the living at the return of Christ in (Mt.24:30-31, 34; 1Cor.15; & 1Thess.4).  Being alive biologically and then whisked away in the literal clouds at Christ’s appearing has nothing to do with Jesus’ teaching on “will never see death.”  Physical death and physical life is not the emphasis of John’s writings or Jesus’ teaching.   

6)  The greener pastures of the new covenant & the security of “eternal life”The “thief” or false shepherds that sought to steal, kill, and destroy were the Pharisees of the previous chapter seeking to destroy the joy of the blind man that had received his sight.  They sought to put out of the synagogue and persecute any that listened to or put their faith in Jesus.  Jesus’ authoritative “Verily I say unto you” is linking the two chapters together and continues the same theme and subject matter.  Jesus is now emphasizing and expounding the living parable of what has just taken place.  There is no need to worry about being persecuted or put out of the synagogues by the old-covenant corrupted “shepherds” of the Pharisees, because Jesus was the true new covenant Davidic shepherd/King who was spiritually in the process of “gathering” (Greek episunago) and  building up His new covenant temple/synagogue which would be completed at His return (cf. Mt.23:13-14, 37; Mt.24:30-31;Heb.10:25, 37).[9] Jesus and through Paul, would be gathering Israel and the gentiles to Himself and making them one new man/flock/tabernacle to rest in and “causing” them to graze in the very Garden of Eden (Ephs.2; Ezk.34; Ezk.36:24-38; Ezk.37:21-28).   

Christ laid His life down for the “sheep” (not the goats of whom He never knew) who believed in Him because the Father had given them to the Son and sovereignly drew them to Him.  Those Arminian preterists such as Don Preston and Tim Martin who think a corporate election and resurrection somehow substantiates Arminianism are sorely mistaken.  The corporate body is made of individuals or sheep Jesus and the Father “know by name.”  When pressed hard on every side through difficult outward and inward trials, they remain in the new-covenant sheepfold for they know they have nowhere else to go.  Nor do they have a desire to leave because God has “caused” them to be safe and  keeps them obeying His new-covenant laws that He has written on their hearts (Jer.31-32; Ezk.36:27; Jn.6:68-69; 1Jn.3:9; Rev.3:12).  I couldn’t agree more with Arminian Preterist, Don Preston when he writes, “IF YOUR THEOLOGY SAYS THAT GOD FAILED, YOU NEED TO CHANGE YOUR THEOLOGY!”[10] God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit could not, nor did fail to raise up the individual members (known by name through faith) of His new-covenant Body pre-A.D. 70 or post!  To teach otherwise is to trust in a god who fails and “altars” (Ps.89) His kingdom plans either in the old or new-covenant ages – selah.                        

7)  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. “And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (Jn. 11:25-26)Oddly there is no discussion of (Jn.11:25-26) in Mathison’s chapter and it is rarely discussed throughout the book.  As a Calvinist I know the resurrection of Lazarus in (Jn.11:43-44) is usually used among reformed pastors and theologians to illustrate God’s effectual, irresistible, and creative call to support a spiritual resurrection involved in hearing the gospel and the giving of faith by God to the believer in (Ephs.2:1-10).  And yet somehow Jesus’ words in verses 25-26 are supposed to teach a universal casket resurrection at the end of time.  It is true that Jesus is using Lazarus’ death and resurrection to teach a deeper truth to Martha and the rest of His disciples.     


Jesus deliberately waited 4 days to reach Lazarus because He intended to test the faith of Martha and his disciples.  As usual He would perform a physical miracle in order to teach a deeper spiritual lesson, and this time the lesson was on death and life.   In verse 23 Jesus assures Martha that He intends to raise Lazarus.  In verse 24 Martha in disbelief puts off the miracle of a resurrection for Lazarus “in the resurrection” and in “the last day.”  Now Jesus has Martha and the others right where He wants them in order to teach them something deeper about Himself and the true power of what the resurrection is all about.  Jesus responds, “I am the resurrection, and the life:…”  The first exegetical and hermeneutical question we should ask ourselves is, “how has Jesus used His “I am” statements previously and throughout this gospel?”  Are they used to teach biological and literal truths or spiritual of what eternal or resurrection life is all about?   

a)  “I am the bread of Life” (Jn.6:35, 48, 51) – spiritual / “eternal life”

b)  “I am from Him” (Jn.7:28-29) – Jesus came to reveal who the Father is and was one with Him.  Jesus was from heaven from the beginning. Jesus is from God and God is “Spirit.”   Jesus was currently “in heaven” while on earth (Jn.3:13), and is further described by Paul as the “man from heaven” and “a life-giving spirit.”  So yes the words Jesus spoke before and after His resurrection were that “the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (Jn.6:63). 

c)  “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of l

ife.” (Jn.8:12) – spiritual / resurrection “life”

d)  “I am from above.” “I am not of this world” (Jn.8:23) – spiritual   

e)  “I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.” (Jn.9:39) – spiritual / sight and blindness.

f)  “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” (Jn.10:9) – spiritual / spiritual entrance & grazingg)  “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (Jn.10:10) – spiritual / give abundant spiritual eternal life

g)  “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.” (Jn.12:26) – Jesus was “in heaven” while on earth and so His followers could experience this heavenly eternal life and be raised and rule with Him while on earth as well (Ephs.2:1-6; Rev.20) – spiritual / servants being honored in heaven while on earth.

h)  “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (Jn.14:3) – Spiritual / Here the “not yet” of being with Christ in heaven is emphasized but does not take away from the spiritual “already” of (Ephs.2:1-6; Rev.20).  Spiritual / “we will come to him and make our home with him” (vs.23)

i) “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (Jn.14:6).  Spiritual / “the way” we come to Jesus is through faith, “the truth” “set’s us free” from the spiritual slavery of sin, we receive spiritual and abundant “life” through faith.  

j)  “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.” (Jn.14:20).  Spiritual / The indwelling of the Spirit and the Father and the Son “with” or “in you” see (vs.23). 

k)  “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.  I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” (Jn.15:1, 5)  Spiritual / a bearing forth spiritual fruit.

l)  “And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me that they may be one, as we are.” (Jn.17:10-11) – Spiritual / Christ is glorified “in” His people as they keep His commandments and love one another. 

m)  “…sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” (Jn.18:37).  Spiritual / a spiritual “hearing” of God’s voice through faith, and “My Kingdom is not of this world” (vs.36).   

NONE of the “I am” statements throughout John’s gospel can exegetically be understood to be referring to literal or biological realities at the end of time whereby the “flesh” “prophiteths,” but rather these are words of “spirit” and “life” and have God dwelling “with” or “in” His people while on earth or with Him after death at His return.      

Jesus goes on to say, “he that believeth (spiritual) in me, though he were dead (physically like Lazarus), yet shall he live (spiritually):  And whosoever liveth (physically) and believeth (spiritually live) in me shall never die (spiritually). Believest thou this?”  The passage is addressing two groups of people:  1)  Those who had “fallen asleep” or died prior to the in-breaking of new-covenant life (such as David or Daniel) or even prior to the consummation of it in A.D. 70 (such as Lazarus at this point).  2)  The second group are those who hear the words of Jesus and begin experiencing resurrection or eternal life.   

Other than the Olivet Discourse being the source from where Paul got his eschatology on the coming of the Lord (1Thess.4:15), perhaps the order of the dead being raised first and then a change or catching away of the living can also be seen here in (Jn.11:25-26).  If so, then we need to pay closer attention to what Jesus says of those who hear His words, for they “will NEVER die.”  Jesus has already used this expression in John and it never means that those who believe in Him will never [physically] die.  Obviously those that were present and believed on Jesus prior to His return in A.D. 70 did die physically and believers post parousia continue to die biologically.  If this text is considered a parallel passage to the order of (1Thess.4:15-17), then the “catching away” or “never dieing” has nothing to do with a literal rapture or literal transformation of bodies at Christ’s return.  Those who were dead would be raised out of Hades into God’s presence.  Those who were alive would also experience God’s presence and “never die” – that is – be separated from Him having to continue to anticipate the forgiveness of sin.   There is nothing in this text that supports a “fleshly” or biological resurrection at the end of time.  That has to be eisegetically presupposed or read into the text. 

The reason Jesus raises Lazarus from biological death, isn’t because He is saying, “see this is how the general resurrection body” is going to look like at the end of time,” but rather, is Him being consistent with the purpose of His miracles throughout John – it is a physical miracle used to emphasize a spiritual truth about eternal or resurrection life in the here and now.  At this point Jesus was interested in cultivating and strengthening the hearts and beliefs of Martha and His disciples about the joy of them “never dieing” (spiritually) and abiding in His teachings in the then present — here and now 

8)  “In my Father’s house are many mansions (Grk. mone): if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode (Grk. mone) with him.” (Jn.14:2-3, 23) 

In the new testament, the Greek word mone “abiding” or “dwelling” is only used here in these two verses.  The later in verse 23 explains how Jesus would “receive” His people — when He and the Father (Who are the temple Rev.21:22) came to make their “dwelling” or abode/home with them.  The “Father’s house” or Temple, consists not just of the Father and the Son, but now their new-covenant heavenly people (Heb.3:6, Heb.8-10).  How was Jesus preparing a dwelling place for His people?  In context, He was going to give them the Holy Spirit Who would be apart of the process of forming and transforming Christ in them (1Cor.6:19; Gals.4:19; 2Cor.3-4; Phip.2:5/Rms.12:1-2) until the “light” or “Day Star” (Christ) rose in their hearts completely (2Pet.1:19; cf.1Jn.2:8).  They were in the process of “being built up” as the Temple (1Pet.2:5) of God and “putting on” the “new man” which is another metaphor for putting on the wedding garments of Christ’s righteousness which would become their own (Ephs.4:24; Isa.52:1/Rev.21:2; Mt.22:11; Rev.16:15; 19:18/1Cor.1:30/2Cor.5:21).  This was taking place until they were fully “adorned” as the Most Holy Place or City of the Living God.  This City was likewise in the process of coming down from heaven (Rev.3:12NIV) and would fully come in an “at hand” time frame to bring healing to the nations.  At that point in A.D. 70 God’s people were found to be “glorified” “in” Him and He “in” them (2Thess.1:12; Rms.8:8-11, 18; Jn.14:20).       

There are six references to the second coming in this chapter: 

1) “receive you to myself” in verse 3. 

2)  “Manifest Myself to him” in verse 2. 

3)  “We will come to him and make Our home with him” in verse 23. 

4)  “I am going away and coming back to you” in verse 28. 

5) “At that day (“the last day” or the day He comes to “receive” and “manifest Himself to them”) you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you” in verse 29. 

6)  “And when it (His return) does come to pass, you may believe.” 

What is interesting are the last two references to His return #5 and #6.  If it were a physical and literal “rapture” or “resurrection” “catching away,” then why the words “then you will know that I am in My father, and you in Me, and I in you” and “that you may believe”?   Obviously if one was whisked away in the literal clouds and your body had been literally transformed, you would “know” and there would be no doubt about it that Christ had returned.  Jesus’ words indicate that His return and Kingdom was something that could be missed and not seen with the physical eye (Lk.17:20-21, 21-37).  This is consistent with what Jesus taught in (Mrk.8:38-9:1) as well.  In other words the Christians remained on the earth in A.D. 70 and Christ and the Father made their “dwellings” “with” “in” and thus “within” them (Jn.14:2-3, 23; Cols.1:27; 1Pet.1:19; Lk.17:20-21)!                      

Jesus’ classic statement of the “peace” He gives that the old-covenant world could not give in verse 27 (within the context of the temple motif) is not arbitrarily placed.  “Peace” would characterize the new-covenant temple/people (Hag.2:19).  The disciples depression experienced briefly after the crucifixion would be turned into joy, peace, and courage as Jesus and the Holy Spirit brought back to their remembrance the teachings of the old-testament Scriptures.  “True peace” came through the redemptive work in His sacrifice and second appearing apart from sin, which alone could cleanse their  consciences and hearts from dead works.  The old-covenant temple/world could not do this (Heb.8-10).   

The inspiration of the new testament writers concerning “things to come” is clearly laid out for us in (Jn.14:26; 16:13).  Mathison would rather compromise his beliefs of the time texts with Kistemacker and Strimple as an alleged “possibility” than apply them consistently to the judgment and resurrection and be considered a “hyper-preterist.”  This is simply NOT an exegetical option.  The same writer that said he would be led into all truth concerning “things to come” said the time of these eschatological “things” would be fulfilled “shortly” (Rev.1:1—Rev.22:7, 10, 12, 20).  There is nothing ANYWHERE in the writings of John that indicate the second coming, the judgment, and the resurrection are somehow excluded from the “things” of the prophecy!    

9)  The harvesting/resurrection of producing fruit and judgment of Israel’s Vine (Jn. 15). The background to Jesus’ teaching on the Vine and He and His followers being the “true vine,” lies in the old testament.  Above the entrance into the Most Holy Place of the temple was a golden vine.  The “vine of the earth/land” (Rev.14:17-18) in the old testament and new is clearly Israel and “true” Israel – Christ and the Church transformed through its harvest/resurrection process. Ogden correctly states, “What is the vine of the earth?  Think!  There is only one vine of the earth of significance in the Scriptures.  We follow the lineage of Christ through it (Matt.1:1-17; Lk. 3:23-38).  The vine of the earth is the nation of Israel, God’s choice vine (cf. Psa. 80:8-19; Isa. 5:1-7; Jer. 2:20-21; Ezk.17:1-10).  “Her grapes are fully ripe”, i.e., her iniquity is complete.  It is time to gather her grapes for the harvest (Dan.8:23; 9:24; Joel 3:13; 1Thess. 2:16).”[11]      

Jesus’ parable of the landowner and the Vineyard in (Mt.21:33-46) with its “when the harvest time approached” in verse 34’s A.D. 70 time frame, needs to be read along side of what we have seen here in John’s writings on the time frame of the harvest.  It also needs to be read alongside the judgment and burning of these branches in (Jn.15)!  Mathison agrees that the judgment of the (Mt.21) parable of the Vineyard occurred in A.D. 70 (WSTTB?, p.176, Postmillennialism, p.221).  Therefore its “harvest” occurred then as well!  Jesus only taught one harvest and it is inseparably tied to the resurrection.  What we have seen over and over again, is that when the kingdom comes (Mt.21:43), is when the second coming / harvest / gathering / and resurrection occurs.         

To our Arminian opponents both futurist and preterist, I should point out that in John’s writings and theology it was the mere professors of faith among the Church that were not truly abiding (thus unable to bear fruit) in Christ whom were cast out into the fire in A.D. 70.  True Christians “continue” “abide” “bear fruit” and “cannot” nor “will” they “sin” the sin of final apostasy— the “sin unto death” (1Jn.2:19/1Jn.3:9/1Jn.5:4-18;[12] Jn.15). 


The writer to the Hebrews makes the new exodus parallels and echos in (Heb.3-6) with those whom have “tasted” the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come to echo the 10 spies that had tasted the fruit/grapes of the inheritance/promised land in (Num.13).  Of the 12 only Joshua and Caleb possessed saving faith!  Don Preston’s appeals that (Heb.6:4) teaches that this group were Christians that had been “regenerated” instead of being “instructed” or “enlightened” and then allegedly lost their salvation is bogus and I believe irresponsible.[13]  Does he likewise believe those other 10 spies and the unbelievers that fell in the wilderness wandering all possessed saving faith but lost it?!?  Tim Martin’s appeals of once being an educated “Calvinist” and now an Arminian based upon an alleged definitive teaching of Jesus in (Jn.15) is about as impressive to me as Clark Pinnock’s history, road to apostasy, and Arminian “apologetics.”  The notion that John 15 and Hebrews 6 teaches a Christian can loose his salvation has about as much exegetical credibility to it as Ed Steven’s or Tim LaHaye’s appeals to (Jn.14) as teaching a definitive literal rapture.  


 10)  “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?” (John 21:18-23)  

After Peter learns from Jesus that he is going to be martyred, in essence he asks Jesus if John is likewise going to be one of those martyred before He comes or if he will be one that lives to experience His return (Jn.21:20).  This conversation makes no sense unless the disciples had been taught from John the Baptist and Jesus Himself that He in fact would return in some of their lifetimes (Mt.3:2-12; 10:22-23; 16:27-28; 21-25).     

[1] David Chilton, PARADISE RESTORED A BIBLICAL THEOLOGY OF DOMINION, pp.61-63, Dominion Press, 1985 bold emphasis added.


[2] Frank Viola, God’s Ultimate Passion Unveiling the Purpose Behind Everything, pp.99-100, Present Testimony Ministry, 2006.


[3] Edited by Stanely N. Gudry and C. Marvin Pate, a 4 co-authored debate with Kenneth Gentry, FOUR VIEWS ON THE BOOK OF REVELATION, p.66, Zondervan pub., 1998.    




[5] The NIV Study Bible, p.1942, Zondervan pub., 1985.  G.K. Beale, NIGTC The Book of Revelation, pp. 782-783 n.505, n.517.   


[6] David Chilton, THE DAYS OF VENGEANCE AN EXPOSITION OF THE BOOK OF REVELATION, p.376, Dominion Press pub., 1987.   


[7]Hendriksen, William ; Kistemaker, Simon J.: New Testament Commentary : Exposition of the Gospel According to John. Grand Rapids : Baker Book House, 1953-2001 (New Testament Commentary 1-2), S. 1:200

[8] Gary DeMar makes this point & ours to Tommy Ice in their debate, THE GREAT TRIBULATION:  PAST OR FUTURE?, American Vision,


[9] Chilton, Days of Vengeance, ibid., p.372. 


[10] Don K. Preston, THE LAST DAYS IDENTIFIED, P.104, JaDon Productions 89 Magnolia St. Ardmore, OK. 73401.


[11] Arthur M. Ogden, THE AVENGING of the APOSTLES and PROPHETS, p.299, Ogden pub. 212 Cherokee Trail, Somerset, KY 42501.


[12] John Murray, COLLECTED WRITINGS OF JOHN MURRAY 2:  Systematic Theology, pp.193-195, 283 n.1, Banner of Truth pub., 1977.  I tend to agree with Murray that the sin that Christians cannot nor will commit in (1Jn.3:9) is a specific sin of apostasy in (1Jn.5).


[13] Preston, ibid., Elements, pp.259-260.

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Mike Sullivan