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By: Michael J. Sullivan


Copyright 2008

1) God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;” (Heb. 1:1-2)

As I quoted earlier in his work on Postmillennialism, Mathison claims the writer to the Hebrews was describing the “last days” of the “Jewish age” when citing (Heb.1:1-2). But once engaged with us, he claims there are still more eschatological events to be fulfilled in the “last days.” Puritan theologian Dr. John Owen stated of the last days in (Hebs.1:2),


“Most expositors suppose that this expression, “The last days,” is a periphrasis for the times of the gospel. But it doth not appear that they are anywhere so called; nor were they ever known by that name among the Jews, upon whose principles the apostle proceeds.” “…It is the last days of the Judaical church and state, which were then drawing to their period and abolition, that are here and elsewhere called “The last days,” or “The latter days,” or “The last hour,” 2 Peter 3:3; 1 John 2:18; Jude 1:18. For,…” “…This phrase of speech is signally used in the Old Testament to denote the last days of the Judaical church.”[1]


Postmillennial partial preterist Gary DeMar says of the “last days” here in Hebrews and everywhere else in the new testament,


“The last days are not way off in the distant future. The end came to an obsolete covenant in the first century. In A.D. 70 the “last days” ended with the dissolution of the temple and the sacrifitial system.”[2]


Indeed there isn’t a clearer new testament epistle than the book of Hebrews that describes the contrast between the old and new covenants. The end of the planet and a 2000 + year delay of the second coming are completely foreign to its pages. As far as the nature of fulfillment, the “true” and “better things” of the new covenant are consistently spiritual in nature and thus superior to the physical and typological elements of the old-covenant system that were “soon” to disappear.


The writer to the Hebrews quotes Ps.102 in 1:10-12 in describing the creation and perishing of the heavens and the earth. There was coming a “set time” in which God would build up the Church – “Zion” as a “creation” (Ps. 102:13-18). We have already examined this “set time” in reference to the crucifixion and the second coming in the gospels and in Acts. The “groaning” of the Church/Zion to finally be delivered from sin and death is described in (verses 19-20; cf. Rms.8). Before this could be achieved the former creation would have to perish. The previous laying of the foundation of the earth/land in (verse 25) is described in (Isa.51:15-16) as when God delivered Israel out from Egypt and put the words of His covenant law in their mouths and they vowed to obey it.[3] The heavens and earth of the old covenant would one day “perish” “grow old” and would be “changed” (verses 25-26). The new-covenant creation consisting of God’s elect sheep He willed not to perish (Jn.3:16; Jn.10; 2Pet.3:9). Those among the old-covenant creation that would not repent when confronted with the gospel did indeed “perish.” The writer tells us in 8:13 that the old covenant was “growing old” and would “soon” or was “ready to disappear” or “vanish.” And the “change” or transformation of going from old covenant body/glory to new is described in (1Cor.15; 2Cor.3-5). The Psalm ends with the descendants of the new creation of Zion being “established” before God (verse 28, cf. Mic.4:1).


2) “Are they not all spirits of service—for ministration being sent forth because of those about to inherit salvation?” (Heb 1:14 YLT)

This is similar to what we found in (Rms.13:11-12) concerning a salvation that was nearer than when they had first believed and was inseparably connected to “the Day” of Christ’s second coming being “at hand.” The writer to the Hebrews is consistent with what we have found in the writings of Paul where he tells us that “the Life” or “laying hold of eternal life” was something that was “about to come” for the first century Church. “Salvation” in this letter is directly affiliated with the end of the old-covenant system, the second coming of Christ apart from sin, and the imminent new creation. Therefore, since the other eschatological themes are presented in this book as being imminent, it should not surprise us that the “not yet” of salvation was “about to be” inherited.

The writer also references (Ps.110 & 8) in chapters 1:13 and 2:8. God’s enemies and “all things” had not yet been completely subjected to Christ but in context, all things would be subjected to Christ and the Church when they inherited their “about to come” “salvation” and “world.” Although (Ps.110) is a favorite of Mathison’s, he consistently fails to develop its context throughout Hebrews when time texts are associated with it. This will be devastatingly clear in chapter 10!


3) “For not to messengers did He subject the (mello – about to come) world, concerning which we speak,” (Heb. 2:5)


Although I could not find any translations that render mello in this passage as “about to come,” contextually, I think this is how it should be translated here. Since mello is used elsewhere in this letter along with other time texts communicating an imminent consummation, this buttresses an imminent translation of mello in this text. Mathison sees 2:8 as evidence that the restoration of literal creations is still future (WSTTB?, p.196). But as we have seen in chapter one, the literal creation is not in view and verse 5 tells us that the new covenant world was “about to come.” Since God cannot lie, the restoration of creation was about to take place and did in A.D.70 when the new covenant “world” was established and matured.


4) The end, new exodus motif, and promise of another “Day” of Sabbatical rest/inheritance (Heb.3-4).


We are told in these chapters that God’s people are the “house” of the Lord with these first century Christians needing to persevere until “the end” (verses 6, 14). The “end” here is referring to an imminent judgment coming at the end of the old-covenant Jewish age that Jesus referred to in (Mt.10:17-13; Mt.24).

The writer quotes (Ps.95:7-10) in this chapter to develop the new exodus motif. This is important because this was a Psalm along with (Ps.90) that many Jews considered to be teaching a 40 year millennial reign of the coming Messiah from the old-covenant age to the establishment of the new.[4] There was “another day” 4:1, 8 coming of which was predicted through the prophets to fulfill God’s promises of inheritance and Sabbatical rest. Contextually within this epistle, this “Day” was “at hand” and rapidly approaching and would be realized at Christ’s second coming/appearing 9:26-28; 10:25, 37. Although not a Biblical preterist, John Gill following Aben Ezra’s insights makes the correct application of what we see as a 40 year anti-type millennium generation in (Heb.3/Ps.95),

“and “loathed” them as the word {l} sometimes signifies; wherefore, after the affair of the spies, to which Aben Ezra thinks this had reference, they did not hear from the mouth of the Lord, there was no prophecy sent them by the hand of Moses, as the same writer observes; nor any history or account of them, from that time till they came to the border of Canaan; so greatly was their conduct and behaviour resented: and it was much such a term of time that was between the beginning of the ministry of John the Baptist and of Christ, and the destruction of Jerusalem; during which “time the Jews tempted Christ, tried his patience, saw his works, and grieved his Spirit, which brought at last ruin upon them:”[5]

Mathison disagrees with amillennialist Richard Gaffin on embracing too narrow of a view of the wilderness motif in Hebrews and in the rest of the new testament, The Wilderness Motif. A misunderstanding of the millennial kingdom has led to the suggestion that the wilderness wandering of Israel in the Old Testament is the controlling motif for the Church during this period of time. As explained by amillennialist Richard B. Gaffin, “Until Christ returns the church remains a wilderness congregation.”11 “…Christ goes forth into the earth which He has inherited to put all enemies under His feet (1 Cor. 15:25), much like the conquest under Joshua.12 Thus, we cannot simply take one period of Israel’s history and declare it to be the controlling metaphor of the present age.” (Postmillennialism, ibid., p.182).

Both Gaffin and Mathison are partially correct. Gaffin is correct in pointing out the new exodus or wilderness motif is a dominant theme found within the new testament of which describes the Church before the second coming occurs. However, as we saw in 1 Corinthians, the typological promises found under the old-covenant age(s) would all be realized and fulfilled during the contemporary lifetimes of Paul and the Corinthians (1Cor.10:1-11). Mathison is correct in pointing out the new testament describes the Church as already entering into the inheritance of the new age/land to some degree. He is also correct to point out there are other typological scenes within the new testament depicting the Church before Christ’s return. Unfortunately, both are in error in not recognizing the full beauty of the type and anti-type in Hebrews. The Church was in this anti-type new exodus for a “this generation” (40 years) time period. Post A.D.70, the Church has now fully come into her inheritance. This was accomplished with Christ returning at the end of the old-covenant age within His generation. Mathison continues to claim that God’s enemies described in (Ps.110/Heb.1-2, 10/1Cor.15) have not been subdued. He also wants us to consider other types to describe the Church before the consummation other than the new exodus. Again, I would remind him of the 40 years of David and then Solomon’s reigns in which both subdued their enemies and procured a temporal and typological rest for Israel.

5) “…and tasted the good word of God, also the powers [miracles] of the age that is about to come, and have fallen away, again to be renewing them to repentance, crucifying to themselves the Son of God and putting Him to an open shame.” (Heb. 6:5 WUESTNT)

To briefly respond to our Arminian futurist and preterist opponents, I should point out our writer is continuing the theme of the new exodus. The “tasting” of the age that was “about to come” is a trigger word pointing the reader back to the new exodus motif in chapters 3-4 and of the twelve spies who had seen and tasted the fruit of the Promised Land in Numbers 13. The ten spies whom had tasted the fruit of the promised land without faith were a type of those professing believers whom had claimed they had partaken of the “about to come age” in saving faith but in reality hadn’t. Joshua and Caleb were types of the genuine Christians among the Church whom the author was convinced of better things concerning salvation because their faith and hope (life style of producing fruit) was evidence that their hope had entered the inner sanctuary behind the veil. As the ten unbelieving spies and unbelieving among Israel would have God’s wrath abiding upon them for 40 years and not enter His rest, so too were these professors in danger of experiencing. Likewise, just as the faith of Joshua and Caleb enabled them to enter into God’s rest and inheritance after 40 years, so too would those whom had truly trusted Christ between A.D. 30 – A.D.70 enter into their Sabbath rest and inheritance. But here the Sabbath rest and imminent inheritance is described as coming into the “age that is about to come.”


Before leaving this chapter it is important that Mathison and our opponents realize the seriousness of their theological and eschatological error. It is said here that God cannot lie in performing His oaths and promises made to Abraham 6:13-20 regarding the previously stated “about to come” “inheritance” “salvation” “world” and “age.” His promise is likewise described as “irrevocable” or unchanging! So much for Richard Pratt’s theory of a postponed second coming! The author picks up the themes of persevering in genuine faith because of His promise to return in an “at hand” time frame again in 10:23-25. It is said that God would be “faithful” to perform this promise in the imminent time frame in which He promised! Arminiansim and any kind of futuristic eschatology impugns the very nature of God Himself and should be abhorred by any sincere child of God!

6) In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. (Heb. 8:13)

Interestingly there is no discussion of this time text in Mathison’s chapter or by the other writers of WSTTB?. The traditional reformed amillennial position is that the old-covenant Mosaic law had all been fulfilled at the cross. However, as we have seen in (Mt.5:17-19; Lk.21:22-32; Acts 17-28), the “hope of Israel” and all the promises contained in the old-covenant law and the prophets would be fulfilled in an “about to be” “this generation” time period that included the second coming, judgment, resurrection, and passing of the heavens and earth of the old-covenant creation. Mathison in his writings avoids this passage and seems to have a problem with us believing the old covenant became obsolete and was ready to, and in fact did disappear by A.D.70 as the text clearly states (WSTTB?, xiv)! If there is a problem with our belief here then why didn’t Mathison or any of his co-authors address this text within its 354 pages?


Other postmillennial or partial preterists such as Gentry, DeMar, and Hanegraaff have conceded that 8:13 is discussing the passing of the old-covenant economy in the judgment of A.D.70. Gentry states that the new covenant, “…was confirmed publicly and dramatically in A.D. 70 by removing the typological, old covenant order (which “will soon disappear,” Heb. 8:13) so that the final new covenant order could be firmly established (12:22-28).” Unfortunately for Gentry, the analogy of Scripture within Hebrews and in the rest of the new testament, teaches us the “removing of the typological old covenant order” was more than an “aftershock” of the cross, but was the point at which the promises of the old covenant—“the law and the prophets” would be completely fulfilled!


Before leaving this chapter we should point out that our author quotes (Jer.31) as reference to the new-covenant salvation. There is nothing in this new covenant prophecy that warrants a physical phase of the “not yet” of salvation in Biblical eschatology! The issues in this chapter remain on the forgiveness of sin, the heart, mind, conscience, and the salvation of the soul.

7) Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance; the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience––concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation.” (Heb.9:6-10)

Preterists and futurists are somewhat divided on what the phrase, “the first tabernacle was still standing” means. Some preterists claim that it refers to the entire old covenant temple literally standing, and when it was removed and destroyed in A.D.70, the consummation or reformation of all the eschatological things was achieved at this point. Others see the “first tabernacle” as representing the first part of the tabernacle – the Holy Place. In this interpretation, the way into the Holiest of All would be addressing the “second” part of the tabernacle/temple. In this later interpretation, the old covenant members and economy is described as the Holy Place and the new covenant economy and members are described as the Most Holy Place. Let’s look at this interpretation from a futurist view,

“The holiest of all —heaven, the antitype. The first tabernacle —the anterior tabernacle, representative of the whole Levitical system. While it (the first tabernacle, and that which represents the Levitical system) as yethas a standing” (so the Greek, that is, “has continuance”: “lasts”), the way to heaven (the antitypical “holiest place”) is not yet made manifest (compare #Heb 10:19,20). The Old Testament economy is represented by the holy place, the New Testament economy by the Holy of Holies. Redemption, by Christ, has opened the Holy of Holies (access to heaven by faith now, #Heb 4:16 7:19, 25, 10:19, 22 by sight hereafter, #Isa 33:24 Rev 11:19 21:2,3) to all mankind. The Greek for “not yet” (me po) refers to the mind of the Spirit: the Spirit intimating that men should not think the way was yet opened [TITTMANN]. The Greek negative, “ou po, ” would deny the fact objectively; “me po” denies the thing subjectively.[6]

These comments are good, but the author assumes that the “not yet” of seeing God in the future in Hebrews and Revelation refers to a physical sight and is still a future event. As the two Jerusalem’s and the two brothers in (Gals.4) represented the two covenant members and economies existing side by side awaiting to see who had the rights to the inheritance; the imagery of the two compartments of the tabernacle/temple teach the same concept. The Christians faith had entered bind the veil into the MHP awaiting full access at Christ’s return. In the meantime, they co-existed within the old-covenant economy and members in the HP. It may be significant to point out that the HP was 40 cubits long (1Kings 6:17). The reason the length of Solomon’s temple was 40 cubits was most likely a typological looking back on the 40 years of the first redemption/exodus and a remembrance of the 40 year reign of David. It also may have pointed to a prophetic 40 year reign of Solomon himself. But ultimately to me, and I could be wrong, but this communicates the High Priesthood of Christ as well as His Kingly interim reign of 40 years over His first century enemies – the Jews who pierced Him and would put to death His Apostles and Prophets. The old testament priest had to be tested and walked 40 cubits before entering the Most Holy Place. If his heart was not right God would strike him dead and he would be drug out with a rope. Christ as the new-covenant High Priest in His earthly ministry began announcing He had the power to forgive sins (Mrk.2:5-12). This would later be realized through the cross and parousia by AD 70 (Heb.9:26-28; Heb.10:37; Rms.11:26-27/Rms.13:11-12). There was a 40 year period in which Christ as our High Priest blazed a trail into the MHP and then returned bringing His sons into the glory of His MHP presence. The Church itself was God’s house/temple and would be tried and tested for 40 years along with being transformed in order to completely become God’s MHP dwelling.

The other issue surrounding this passage is what exactly the meaning of the Greek is. The first time I heard that the force of the Greek in this text could render a translation of having a legal standing was in Don Preston’s debate with James Jordan. I followed up with an email to Don asking him for more Greek work on this point. He wrote the following response:

“See the New International Greek Testament Commentary (in loc), where Ellingworth says “Some scholars, including P. E. Hughes and Teodorico, give the meaning of “have status” or “legal standing” or “function.” (p. 439). He does claim that the more common translation “standing” is to be preferred, but, gives no exegetical reason for this. Likewise, Word Biblical Commentary, in loc, p. 223— “The Holy Spirit disclosed to the writer that as long as the front compartment of the tabernacle had cultis status, access to the presence of God was not yet available to the congregation.” “So long as the cultic ordinances of the Sinaitic covenant were a valid expression of God’s redemptive purpose and the front compartment exouses stasin, “had cultic status’, entrance into the MHP was not yet accessible. There can be access only after the front compartment has been set aside.” See also A. T. Robertson’s Word Pictures, Vol 5, 397 “Another genitive absolute with the present active participle of echo (having standing, stasin, ‘the first tabernacle having a place.” Expositors Greek Testament, Vol. 4, p. 330: “So long as the fore-tent has an appointed place as part of the Divine arrangements for worship.”


This is not an uncommon, or fringe view. It is well attested, and, when you take a look at it contextually, it is the only rendition that fits. The writer’s point is access to the most holy place.


1.) If the simple spatial removal of that first tabernacle, or the temple, opened the way into the MHP, then the destruction in B. C 586 would have opened up the MHP! After all, the temple was not “standing”, but it still had standing!

2.) Very clearly, that first tabernacle system had to be fulfilled and find its fulfillment, thus losing its validity, for the MHP to be open. Undeniably, in context, it would only lose its standing / validity, when it was fulfilled, and that would include the parousia, to fulfill the High Priest’s Atonement actions. That is why the author says “imposed (i.e. and remaining valid), until the time of reformation.”[7]


This interpretation is more in line with the context of Hebrews and what Jesus said of the validity of every jot and tittle of the Mosaic law until it was all fulfilled or until its heaven and earth would pass away (Mt.5:17-19). The old-covenant law still had a legal standing until it had all been fulfilled by A.D.70. The outward sign that it had all been fulfilled with the new-covenant glory and redemption having completely been accomplished is when Christ would return and not one stone would be left upon another (Lk.21:6, 22-32). The old-covenant law would be imposed until the times of reformation. Peter tells us that this would be fully realized only when the Father sent His Son from heaven to unleash the old-covenant wrath and curses upon those that had rejected and crucified Jesus (Acts 3:17-23).

For those reformed partial preterists that would admit that our text here is speaking of the removal of the first covenant/house occurring in AD 70, this presents a problem. If the removal of the first old covenant tabernacle/temple means a brining into the MHP presence of God Himself, then according to (Rev.11:18-19; Rev.20-22), then the judgment of “the dead” takes place and rewards are given at this event! In other words it’s the time for the resurrection! The rest of Revelation tells us that the judgment of the great city is likewise the time when the rewards would be given and thus the time of the resurrection of the dead. These are not very creedal positions to have and admissions to make going into a debate with a Biblical preterist.

In Revelation 21-22:16 there is no temple in the New Jerusalem. As it comes down it is described as being a perfect cube as the MHP was. This is communicating the “consummation” of the new creation because now God in union with His people have become the MHP and are thus no longer under waiting under the altar (Rev. 6:10-11). This is the same event as the judgment of “the dead” in (Rev.11:18-19) in which the temple is opened and the ark of His covenant is seen. There can be no access into the MHP unless there has been a judgment and resurrection of “the dead” which we see in Revelation 20 as well. Mathison and Gentry stray from the recapitulation and parallel structure of Revelation by insisting that the seventh and last trumpet call of Revelation 10:6-11:18-19 happened in A.D. 70 and yet is not parallel to the same judgment described in Revelation 20 as their amillennial and preterist brethren argue very effectively!

8) “He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” (Heb.9:26-28)

Mathison cites (Heb.9:28) as an “indefinite reference” of the second coming since the verse allegedly does not contain a time text (WSTTB?, p. 202). But R.C. Sproul in refuting Kistemaker says that this passage includes both His first and second coming occurring by A.D.70 and that a “considerable time” is very much an issue with this text,


This passage refers to both the first and second appearances of Christ. The context for his first appearance is “the end of the ages.” Yet his followers are still waiting for him to appear a second time.” “…If Christ’s first coming at “the end of the ages” has already occurred and if considerable time has elapsed since that coming, then it is impossible to identify “the end of the ages” with the end of time. If the second appearing of Christ here refers to his judgment on Jerusalem, it would still fit in the framework of “the end of the ages” that is not the end of all time.[8]


Probably the best and most straightforward statement comes from Milton S. Terry,


The ‘end of the age’ means the close of the epoch or age—that is, the Jewish age or dispensation which was drawing nigh, as our Lord frequently intimated. All those passages that speak of ‘the end,’ ‘the end of the age,’ or ‘the ends of the ages,’ refer to the same consummation, and always as nigh at hand.” “…the writer regarded the incarnation of Christ as taking place near the end of the aeon, or dispensational period. To suppose that he meant that it was close upon the end of the world, or the destruction of the material globe, would be to make him write false history as well as bad grammar. It would not be true in fact; for the world has already lasted longer since the incarnation than the whole duration of the Mosaic economy, from the exodus to the destruction of the temple. It is futile, therefore, to say that the ‘end of the age’ may mean a lengthened period, extending from the incarnation to our times, and even far beyond them. That would be an aeon, and not the close of an aeon. The aeon of which our Lord was speaking was about to close in a great catastrophe; and a catastrophe is not a protracted process, but a definitive and culminating act.[9]


This text is the epitome of “the second coming” of Jesus as taught in the new testament and we have partial preterists such as Sproul and Terry conceding to a common sense preterist interpretation of the passage. Mathison just avoids the issues but in another work does say of Hebrews 9:1-28, “In 9:1-10, the author continues his argument by explaining the temporary nature of the Old Testament tabernacle and its ceremonies. The tabernacle and its sacrifices were never intended by God to be permanent. They were to continue until the “time of reformation” (v.10).12 Hebrews 9:11-28 describes what happened when this time of reformation arrived.” (Postmillennialism, ibid., p.132). He then goes on to quote Philip E. Hughes whom agrees with us that the imagery here is that of the High Priest going into the Most Holy Place tabernacle/temple on the Day of Atonement to make sacrifice and intercede for the covenant people before coming back out “a second time” in declaring that the sacrifice had been accepted. The problem for Mathison, is that the time texts within the broader and immediate context of this chapter demand “the time of reformation” process or the eschatological “not yet,” to arrive in its fullness within an imminent A.D.70 time frame and not millennia. In his debate with us, he does not want to draw attention to this fact let alone allow the imminent context surrounding the passage to be an exegetical factor (8:13, 9:6-10, 10:1, 13/17, 25, 37) which Sproul says is an exegetical issue that needs addressing. We couldn’t agree more! Once again we find Mathison’s response more than “shallow,” it is non existent!


9) “For the law having a shadow of the good things about to be,…” (Heb. 10:1 WUESTNT)

Because the types and shadows of the old-covenant order were “ready to vanish” and be fulfilled, the spiritual anti-types of the new were “about to” come into there fullness. This is a parallel passage to (Cols. 2:17) of which we have already covered. The chapter break from 9:26-28 to 10:1 is unfortunate. So are most of the biased futuristic translations of mello in 10:1. Some translations do render the shadow of the good things as something that was still “coming” but not imminently coming. However, the imminence between 8:13 – 10:37 is just too dominant to miss!

10) But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool.” (Heb. 10:12-13)

Since (Ps.110) is one of Mathison’s favorite futurist “proof texts” in seeking to universalize and globalize the subduing of God’s enemies, I want to point out to him that the writer to the Hebrews quotes the fulfilling of this Psalm in the middle of a chapter that has more A.D. 70 time texts and references than any other chapter in the book (Heb.10:1, 25, 27, 37, )! Clearly the second coming and the judgment are the eschatological events that the writer says are to be awaited before God has subdued His enemies. And in context, the second coming is “drawing near” will be in a “very little while,” and concerns a judgment that is “about to” occur 10:25, 27/30, 37. This was the “time” the writer to the Hebrews sees as the fulfillment of God subduing the “enemies” of (Ps.110) – selah. Before getting to our next time text, let’s not forget within this chapter lies the spiritual nature of salvation. The goal of salvation under the new covenant is God’s Word/law dwelling in the mind and heart, the forgiveness of sins, and the purifying of the heart and mind from an evil conscience (verses 16-17, 22). This is further described as the “saving of the soul” (verse 39). A physical corpse resurrection at the end of time is NOT the goal of redemption contrary to the creedal confessions of our opponents!

11) not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Heb. 10:25 NSAB)

Mathison does admit that 10:25 is teaching the time was “near” to some “end” but doesn’t want to do any kind of exegesis to determine what end is meant (WSTTB?, p. 202). He is vague as usual and states that the context dictates what “end” is near in any given text. And yet I have done nothing but demonstrate that the immanency throughout Hebrews let alone in this chapter, communicates that the “end” drawing “near,” was the end of the old-covenant age/world. R.C. Sproul is less vague and correctly states,


“It is difficult to escape the conclusion that the author of Hebrews links the approaching day with the coming of Christ and says that both are close at hand.”[10]


I appreciate Sproul’s honesty in at least making the exegetical observation that 10:25 is contextually linked to 9:26-28 and 10:37 which is more than Gentry and others do! Mathison stands for nothing and is so vague in WSTTB?, that he regresses in his partial preterism to the point of exhorting his reformed readers to be open to spiritualizing the time texts in the new testament as one of the many futurist and creedal options. But his mentor R.C. Sproul, is again bolder than he, and makes the correct observation that this kind of spiritualizing of the time texts is a form of liberalism. I too considered spiritualizing the time texts to be a kind of neo-orthodoxy–language of contradiction. So when I first read Sproul critique Hughes and F.F. Bruce I had to give a good “amen.” Sproul quotes Hughes who is quoting F.F. Bruce and then makes a devastatingly honest rebuke,


“The period between the first advent of Christ and His parousia is the end-time, the ‘sast days,’ the ‘last hour,’” writes F.F. Bruce. Whatever the duration of the period may be, for faith ‘the time is at hand’ (Rev. 1:3). Each successive Christian generation is called upon to live as the generation of the end-time, if it is to live as a Christian generation.”17 “This line of reasoning begs the question. If indeed the promise is fulfilled when the event transpires, this does not mean that the promised time-frame is also proven true. When F.F. Bruce speaks of faith making the time be “at hand,” this sounds all too much like Rudolf Bultmann’s famous theology of timelessness, which removes the object of faith from the realm of real history and consigns it to a supertemporal realm of the always present hic et nunc.”[11]


And yet this kind of liberal and self contradictory theology in interpreting the time texts of the new-testament as being, “…in a sense always near[12] is so commonly regurgitated and repeated among reformed and evangelicals, no one even recognizes it for what it is!


12) “But a certain fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery zeal, about to devour the opposers;” (Heb. 10:27 YLT)

This verse is beautiful because it further identifies and confirms the time frame for the judgment of the “enemies” in (verse 13/Ps.110) as “about to” take place in an A.D.70 time frame! Oh, but it gets better! In addressing this imminent judgment our writer quotes the Song of Moses in (verse 30/Deut.32:35-36). In context, Moses is addressing a wrath and judgment that had been storing up and would be apart of Israel’s “latter end.” This “later end” was to occur within a very specific terminal “perverse and crooked generation” (Deut. 32:5, 20, 29; Mt.23:31-36; Mt.24:27-34; Acts 2:40). The prophecy projects a future time in which His judgment would be “at hand” (verse 35). The writer to the Hebrews has mentioned this “end” throughout the letter and the “at hand” judgment Moses predicted would come–had come!

13) For yet “in a very little while, the one who is coming will come and will not delay;” (Heb. 10:37 NRSV)

Mathison in WSTTB? and in his work on Postmillennialism, doesn’t even mention this text because no doubt he wants to high tale it out of Hebrews 9-10 as fast as he can! For those reformed and evangelicals whom claim the imminent time texts throughout the new testament can literally extend to thousands of years into our future, this passage presents a serious problem. The text communicates immanency from the affirmative and the negative. In and of itself, it would be a perversion of the text and the Greek to say that “in a very little while” means thousands of years into the future. But then the follow-up right cross finishes the debate with the negative, “…and will NOT DELAY.” If “in a very little while” is supposed to not mean anything to the first century audience whom were “eagerly waiting” for Christ, and actually refers to millenniums, then what in the world does “not delay” supposed to mean?!? Futurists render this statement to be absolutely meaningless. On this point perhaps we should throw in my former Pastor and reformed hopeful John MacArthur’s feeble attempts to refute our position. MacArthur throughout his book cites texts such as (Heb.10:37; Jms.5:7-9; 1Pet.4:7) where the coming of the Lord is said to be in a “very little while,” “is near,” “at the door,” “at hand,” and states with contradictory jargon,

“…the fact that 2,000 years have elapsed is utterly irrelevant to the doctrine of Christ’s imminent return. Christ’s coming is still imminent.” And again, “The day is still at hand. There are no other events that must occur on the prophetic calendar before Christ comes to meet us in the air. He could come at any moment. And it is in that sense that Christ’s coming is imminent. In the very same sense, His coming was imminent even in the days of the early church. I suppose it is also possible that Christ could delay His coming another 2,000 years or longer.” “There is no ambiguity about this language…” “…something that might be expected at any time.”[13]

MacArthur is just flat out dead wrong here! The Greek, context, nor the English language supports the idea that there is “no ambiguity” to his contradictory mumbo jumbo of an interpretation! MacArthur says Christ “could delay His coming another 2,000 years or longer” when in fact Jesus says this is the very thing He would NOT do – “delay”!

Postmillennial partial preterist Kenneth Gentry, in his writings include 10:25, & 37 as time texts supporting Christ’s return in A.D.70, but contrary to Sproul’s comments and ours, he cannot harmonize this return with His second coming in 9:26-28. He also fails to develop the imminence throughout chapter 10 in his writings! Gentry’s attempts at exegesis, like Mathison’s, are non existent, creedally arbitrary, and thus more than “shallow” in connecting the exegetical dots of (Heb.8-10).


14) Through faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even in connexion with things soon to come.” (Heb. 11:20 WEY)

The overall theological point of Hebrews and within the immediate context of chapter 11, is to review the history and promises made to Israel and her Patriarchs in order to demonstrate those promises could only be ultimately fulfilled spiritually through Christ and the Church. These promises ultimately pointed to “another day” of blessing and inheritance in which the Church was “about to” or “soon” to receive at Christ’s second appearing. At His return, He would fulfill all the types and “things” of the law and the prophets. To fulfill these types would serve to consummate and bring to maturity the promises of the new covenant. The writer is discussing the historical blessing of Isaac over Jacob in (Gen.27:23-29). The phrases that should jump out at us are, “Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you…” and especially, “Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone who blesses you!” (verse 29a&c). This is a recapitulation of the promises made to Adam, Abraham (Gen. 12:3), and then to Israel. So the “faith” of Isaac and the blessing made to Jacob extended to his physical “seed” (Gen.21:12; Heb.11:18 – to Christ), and then by extension to the true Jews or Israel of God realized in the Church. So the faith of Isaac manifested in the blessings to Jacob, are in essence the same promises given to Abraham of which Hebrews 11 informs us would be realized through a spiritual inheritance of a “City” and “heavenly country” (verses 10, 16). The author ends the chapter emphasizing that Abraham, Jacob, and the Patriarchs did not receive the promises because God had provided something better for them, that the Patriarchs should not be made perfect apart from the better promises they were in the process of receiving.


Before leaving this chapter, I wanted to make the important point that the imminent fulfillment of Christ’s return spoken of in the previous chapters describes the reception of a “better” salvation and inheritance described in different ways in this chapter and throughout. The “better” and “true” “inheritance” “things” that accompanied an “about to come” salvation are ALL described in Hebrews as spiritual and non physical. So the “better resurrection” of 11:35 is no exception to this rule!


15) “For we have no permanent city here, but we are longing for the city which is soon to be ours. (Heb. 13:14 WEY)


In chapter 12 the new covenant is described as a spiritual City, New Jerusalem, Mount Zion, the Church of the Firstborn, the Kingdom, etc. The “already” and in the process of receiving this new-covenant kingdom is the focus of chapter 12. Here in our text 13:14, we come back to the “not yet” of the consummation of all the promises made to Israel and the patriarchs. It is all wrapped up with the imagery of the City theme. This is also a favorite image for the consummation found in the writings of John in Revelation (Rev.21-22): 1) The City is Christ in union with the Church that continues to brining healing to the nations post A.D.70. 2) The consummative City/New Creation only comes down in the prophecy when Christ’s coming occurs “quickly” 22:7, 12, 20. The book of Hebrews is in perfect harmony with Revelation. There is only ONE second coming and consummation of Israel’s promises and that coming and those promises were fulfilled in an imminent A.D.70 time frame. Anything short of teaching this is to impugn the faithfulness of God and to call Him a liar either out of ignorance, or willfully in suppressing the truth – selah.

[1] John Owen, THE WORKS OF JOHN OWEN VOLUME 19, pp.12 – 13, Books For The Ages

AGES Software Albany, OR USA Version 1.0 © 2000

[2] Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness, ibid., p.28.

[3] John Owen, The Works of John Owen, Banner of Truth pub., Vol.9 pp. 134-135.

[4] G.K. Beale, The New International Greek Testament Commentary The Book of Revelation, p. 1018 -19, Eerdmans pub. 1999. See also, H.J. Schoeps, Paul: The Theology of the Apostle in the Light of Jewish Religious History, pp. 100, The Westminster Press, 1966. Of this latter reference, both Max King and Ed Steven’s has appealed to in support for a 40 year millennium.

[5] John Gill, John Gill’s Expositor, The Online Bible 7.0 CD-ROM. All emphasis & brackets added.

[6] Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, The Online Bible 7.0 CD-ROM

[7] Don K. Preston, (Heb.9:6-10), email 2007.

[8] R.C. Sproul, ibid., p.106, emphasis added.

[9] Milton S. Terry, Biblical HERMENEUTICS A Treatise on the Interpretation of the Old and New Testaments, pp.441-442, Zondervan Publishing House, 1986.

[10] R.C. Sproul, THE LAST DAYS ACCORDING TO JESUS, p.107, ibid.

[11] R.C. Sproul, ibid., pp.108-109.

[12] Anthony Hoekema, THE BIBLE AND THE FUTURE, p. 126, Eerdmans pub., 1979, emphasis added.

[13] MacArthur, John, The Second Coming Signs of Christ’s Return and the End of the Age, pp. 57-58, 204, Crossway Books pub. 1999, emphasis added.

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Mike Sullivan