THE ESCHATOLOGICAL TIME TEXTS IN 1 & 2 PETER
By: Michael J. Sullivan
Copyright 2008 – Thank you for your Christian integrity and professionalism in advance
Peter’s Eschatology in 1 & 2 Peter
(TLM Editorial Note: I will not be responding to Richard Pratt’s chapter in our House Divided book. I have yielded that chapter to another author. However, here is some material I had developed as a response to Mathison and Pratt on Peter’s eschatology. This, like virtually all of my articles on this site, are still in rough draft form. I hope you enjoy.)
Since all of the authors of WSTTB are united on a futurist interpretation of 2 Peter 3, and Richard Pratt rests his entire postponement theory of the Second Coming in the New Testament on (2Pet. 3:8-9), I have decided to respond to both Pratt and Mathison here on this important chapter. Pratt, Mathison, and their co-author team reason that since the planet earth did not catch on fire and underwent a literal transformation process, this means Christ’s Second Coming was either postponed or the New Testament time texts were never meant to be taken literally. In other words their reasoning is just like the dispensationalists – since the fulfillment doesn’t match the way they think the prophecies were supposed to be fulfilled, it must not have happened when God said it would. We beg to differ. Here I will address the timing of Peter’s eschatology with his epistles along with the spiritual nature of fulfillment.
1) “who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1Pet. 1:5)
The Greek word here for “ready” is Hetoimos and means, “…ready at hand.”
Peter tells the church that “salvation” was “ready” or “at hand” to be revealed for these first-century Christians. The Bride had been exhorted to make her self ready Mt. 25:10 and now the consummation in the form of the wedding and wedding banquet was now “ready at hand” (Mt. 22:4, 8) to be revealed! The phrase “in the last time” singular is a more imminent time statement than the “last times” plural in verse 20. The first is communicating the idea of Christ’s Second Coming arriving on the last day, which would be found within the last days or “last times” period. The “last times,” encompassing Jesus’ earthly ministry and redemptive work upon the cross.
This imminent “salvation” and “inheritance” in verse 4 within the immediate context of this chapter was about to be revealed at “the revelation of Jesus Christ” in verses 7, 13. This would be the “end” or goal of their salvation which was the “salvation you’re your souls” in verse 9. The Greek word here for “soul” is psuche and means, “the breath of life,” “the seat of the feelings, desires, affections, aversions (our heart [cf. 1:22-25], soul etc.),” and or “the soul as an essence which differs from the body and is not dissolved by death (distinguished from other parts of the body).” 
Once again we are faced with the reality that Scripture involves a salvation and redemption associated at Christ’s return that involves the soul, heart, mind, and conscience of man.
Peter makes it also clear that of this ew-covenant salvation and inheritance which included the revealing of Christ, of which the Old Testament prophets predicted would come, was never intended to be fulfilled in the prophets day, but in the time in which Peter and his first century audience lived–verses 10-12. This of course means that there were fulfillments in the Old Testament that were typological and pointed to a greater consummation of new covenant fulfillment such as the “another day” of Hebrews 3-4. The passage is also teaching that all the eschatological promises given through the Old Testament prophets concerning the Second Coming, judgment, resurrection, and new creation were “ready” and “at hand” to be fulfilled in Peter’s day as welll (Isa. 24-28; 63-66; Hos. 13; Dan. 9:24-27, 12:1-7).
Peter, in chapter two confirms for us further that a first century judgment and fulfillment is meant when he quotes Ps. 118 in 2:7. Jesus used this very Psalm in connection with the parable of the wicked vinedressers n Mt. 21:33-45 to refer to a coming judgment that they correctly understood applied to them (vs.45)! Mathison does not really comment much on this Psalm or the New Testament passages where it is cited, but does briefly in his work against dispensationalism, “The kingdom of God was taken from Israel as a nation and given to the true Israel (Matt.21:43; cf. Luke 12:32).” (Mathison, Dispensationalism, ibid., p.30). The kingdom of God was completely and covenantally taken from Israel indeed when God judged her in A.D.70. During the transition period the Church was in the process of being built up 2:5 as the new covenant kingdom of God that would soon completely replace the old. But with the old covenant kingdom promises being fulfilled and then judged and thus made obsolete by A.D.70, the new would stand matured and glorified for the church to enjoy Isa. 60-66; Rev. 21-22.
The consummation of the judgment is buttressed with Peters follow up appeal to Isa. 8:14 in 2:8 right after quoting Psalm 118, which is exactly Jesus’ pattern in the parable found in Luke 20:17-18. Jesus describes the judgment in A.D.70 as Him being a stone which will come in judgment and grind them into powder. In Isaiah 8:14-15 it is said that this stone (Jesus) would be “a stone of stumbling for both houses of Israel as a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” And this is exactly what happened! When all the religious Jews and Israelites from every nation under heaven gathered in Jerusalem for the Passover, is when the false prophets arose to deceive the people to stay and fight the Romans. God had put a lying spirit in their mouths to deceive the people and thus the “snare” and “trap” was set! The Isaiah text says that they would “fall” be “broken” and “taken” into captivity. This indeed happened in A.D. 66-70! Those that were not crushed by the 100 pound stones the Romans catapulted over the walls or destroyed through famine and civil war, would eventually be taken away into slavery by the Romans. Peter sees this prophecy as ultimately being fulfilled in a judgment that was imminently applicable to his contemporary audience, because the prophecy had long ago been “appointed” to them for this end.
2) “who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. There is also an antitype which now saves us––baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” (1Peter 3:20)
John Lightfoot understood “baptism” here to be referring to John’s baptism and the “saving” here to refer to being saved from the wrath about to come upon that nation in A.D.70. “…as Noah and his sons were by water delivered from the flood, ‘so as baptism now, the antitype of the type, saveth us’ from THE DELUGE OF DIVINE INDIGNATION, which in a short time is to overflow the Jewish nation.” (Lightfoot, Vol. 2, ibid., p. 78). We believe he correctly sees the connection of baptism to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D.70, but Preterist theologian David Green is probably closer to the truth in identifying the “baptism” here as a spiritual baptism and baptism of persecution and suffering, not an old or new covenant ritual when he states,
“There is another problem though with the idea of the saving baptism in I Peter 3:21 being a ritual, and that is the tense of the verb “saves.” The verb is present tense, active voice, and the phrase literally reads, “baptism is now saving you.” The meaning seems to be that just as Noah and his family were in process of being saved by a baptism in the ark, so were the first-century believers in process of being saved by baptism. This should further lead us to consider the saving baptism as being spiritual.
Thus far, general hermeneutical principles of typology, the weakness and temporary nature of the old-covenant rituals and the tense of the verb “saves” (“saving“) direct us toward the idea that the baptism of I Peter 3:21 might be a non-ritual, spiritual baptism. But what kind of a non-ritual baptism could have been in process of saving the first-century Christians?”
Green argues for a spiritual baptism from such passages as (Mt.3:11; Joel 2/Acts 2, 10-11; Ephs.4:5; 1Cor.12:13; Gals.3:27; Cols.2:11-12; Rms.6:1-11). It was a spiritual baptism of being in union with Christ through faith and the power of the Holy Spirit who was transforming them into Christ’s image that is here meant. This spiritual baptism and transformation into Christ’s image in His death and resurrection also included a baptism of suffering:
Union / identity with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection is the essence of spiritual baptism. In I Peter, it is the “suffering” or “fiery” aspect of spiritual baptism for Christians that is the running theme. Peter wrote his epistle to the persecuted, scattered Jewish believers who were living as aliens and strangers (1:1; 2:11). Many of them were being distressed by various trials (1:6), being slandered, reviled and maligned (2:12; 3:16; 4:4,14); their faith was being tested by fire (1:7).
This same baptism was predicted by Jesus in Matt. 20:22,23 (AV); Mk. 10:38,39 (cf. Lk. 12:50), where Jesus asked James and John, “Are you able to . . . be baptized with the baptism which I am baptized?” And they answered, “We are able.” And Jesus said, “. . . You shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized.”
Christ was prophesying to His disciples that they were going to become sharers of His sufferings, i.e., they were going to be experientially / spiritually unified and identified with Him in His sufferings, death and burial. They were going to be “crucified with Him” (Rom. 6:6; Gal. 2:20; 5:24) through persecution, but were also going to endure unto victory through the power of Christ’s resurrection.
Union with Christ in His sufferings was further borne out in I Peter when Peter told his readers that it was their calling to patiently endure their persecutions, just as Christ when He suffered, kept entrusting Himself to God. (2:23) “Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose” (4:1), and, “you share the sufferings of Christ” (4:12,13).
It was this spiritual baptism that was saving the first-century Christians. Just as a small remnant, eight souls (I Peter 3:20), had been brought safely through the flood waters in Noah’s day (I Peter 3:20), so was a small remnant (Rom. 9:27,29) being brought safely through the fire of God’s Last-Days wrath. (Matt. 24:38,39; Lk. 17:26,27; II Peter 2:5-9)
Their saving baptism was a refining, purifying baptism, as they were being sovereignly preserved by God through their persecutions until the end of the age. As Paul said in II Cor. 4:17, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (Cf. Acts 14:22).” (Green, ibid.)
“As Noah and his family endured patiently in the ark, so were the first-century Christians patiently enduring a spiritual and fiery baptism, sharing the sufferings of Christ. Old-Covenant baptisms were a fading and ceremonial removal of the filth of the flesh, but New-Covenant, spiritual baptism in Christ was the appeal of a good conscience toward God. (Heb. 10:2) By means of it, believers remained faithful through the power of God in Christ, and retained a clean conscience. (I Peter 3:16) And as Christ was exalted after He patiently endured, so to was His Church-Body called and chosen through His resurrection-power to soon be exalted with Him in the end of the old-covenant age.” (Green, ibid.)
The rain and wrath of God poured down upon the wicked of the land for 40 days and nights in Genesis 7. As God had preserved Noah and his family through these 40 days, God was preserving and saving His Church during this 40 year transition period. This is similar to what we had seen in the development of the type and anti-type in the wilderness exodus motif 1Cor. 10:11; Hebs. 3-4/Ps. 95. Just as God had preserved the faith of Joshua and Caleb during the 40 days of spying out the land and then another 40 years before entering it, God was preserving the faith of these Christians through the persecutions and fiery trials they were undergoing. As the gospel was going throughout the land, it was a living river that by A.D.70 would have reached to the heads of the Christians producing salvation Ezk.47. But for the wicked and unbelieving, the wrath of God remained upon them and thus they were n the process of perishing and would be finally swept away in the fiery flood that consumed and baptized Jerusalem in A.D.70.
3) “They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” “But the end of all things is at hand;…” “For the time has come for [the] judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1Peter 4:5, 7, 17).
In Mathison’s other eschatological works, a discussion of these three very important eschatological passages are completely missing! Mathison has pleaded the fifth and adopted a “no comment” policy on verses 5 and 17. Of verse 7 he once again adopts the “maybe it means this or maybe it means that, ‘interpretation,’ but it most assuredly can’t mean what it actually says.”
In verse 5 we read that God was “…ready to judge the living and the dead.” Although Mathison doesn’t want to tackle this text, Gentry has cited it as a New Testament time text that was fulfilled in A.D.70 in his writings (usually somewhere in a footnote), but he of course never tells us how it was fulfilled in the fall of Jerusalem! Mr. Gentry, please tell us who are the “living and the dead” here and how were they judged without the resurrection being involved?
 In fact, what I find completely amazing is that in two of the books he cites this text being fulfilled in A.D.70, they are in the context of debates with 3 other futurists on the very issue of eschatology and yet none of his opponents even asks the begging question, “How were the living and the dead judged in A.D.70 without the final coming of Christ occurring at that time and the general resurrection taking place?” In fact one of the debates is with Robert Strimple! So we have asked that question and expect an answer forthcoming.
In verse 7 we read, “The end of all things is at hand.” Mathison ignores this passage while Gentry seeks to be bold asking the question, “How else could the New Testament express nearness more clearly?”
But Strimple at least counters Gentry on this text by saying, “Gentry repeatedly emphasizes that the struggle between Christ and Satan is a “historical struggle [that] ends in historical victory.” This is true. And it will end in total and perfect victory at “the end” of history (Gk. to telos, 1 Cor. 15:24; 1 Peter 4:7), the end of “this age,” which will come when Christ comes…”
The truth is to be found in our position which bridged the gap between the two–Peter couldn’t be any more clear in communicating the nearness of [the] consummation which included the end of [all] the promises of the old-covenant age of the law and the prophets 1 Peter 1:4-12! Therefore, Peter’s “all things” includes the resurrection of Daniel’s “all these things” Daniel 12:1-7. It is parallel to Jesus’ “all these things” of His second coming and the gathering/resurrection to occur in His “this generation” (Mt. 24:27, 30-31, 34). It concerns the “things” of the prophecy of Revelation which were “shortly” to take place which included His Return to reward all men Revelation 1:1, 22:12.
Verse 17 reads, “THE TIME has come for THE JUDGMENT…” In the Greek the definite article “the” is present before “time” and “judgment.” In context, Peter is not addressing the nearness of “a” minor judgment of the “living and the dead,” but the consummative judgment”! Gentry, of course pleads the fifth on this text and has learned to adopt a “no comment” to it as well in trying to harmonize it with verses 5 and 7. Again the Greek word for “time” here is kairos and means, “a fixed and definite time, the time when things are brought to crisis, the decisive epoch waited for.”
The meaning of “the time” has already been spelled out for us in the first chapter of this letter – “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (Gk. kairos) 1:5,11! In eschatological contexts, it is referring to the time of the harvest/resurrectionMt.21:34, 41; Rms. 13:11, and thus the time to receive rewards at the Second Coming Mt. 24:45; Acts 3:19, and to emphasize that “the time was short” (1Cor.7:29), and “at hand” (Rev.1:3). Probably a more parallel passage would be the book of Revelation where “the time” of “the dead” to be judged and rewarded would happen “quickly” at the Second Coming when Babylon “the Great City” would be judged (Rev.11:18; 22:12).
We must ask all the authors of WSTTB, and the reformed and evangelical community in general, “how much clearer could Peter have been in stating that the consummation of “the time” and “the judgment” constituting “all things” pertaining to this judgment of “the living and the dead” was “at hand”?
Another important text in this chapter that is sandwiched between verses 5-7 and verse 17 is verse 13 which reads, “but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings (40 years Cols. 1:24 – baptism of suffering), that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” Anyone who is really interested in context and exegesis can see Peter is identifying the “all things” of which is “at hand” to be referring to “the time” of “the judgment” in reference to the “living and the dead” at which time Christ’s Return is stated here as “His glory is revealed” occurs. And to drive the point home even further by way of introducing our next time text, let’s look at the time frame of the reception of this “glory.”
4) “Elders who are among you, I exhort, who am a fellow-elder, and a witness of the sufferings of the Christ, and of the glory about to be revealed a partaker,” (1Peter 5:1 YLT)
The WEY translation renders, “…a sharer in the glory which is soon to be revealed.” See also the DARBY, HCSB, & WUESTNT translations that also render mello here as “about to be.” So we have further clarification as to when the “glory” of 4:13 was to be revealed in the previous verses and which coincides with the judgment just three verses preceding this text. This passage has both the suffering motif with the glory about to be revealed as we developed in Rms.8:18. Imminence and references to the Second Coming are everywhere! The Second Coming is again mentioned in v.4 with the metaphor of Christ coming as the “Chief Shepherd” appearing to give “the crown of glory.” The “crown of glory” or “crown of life” is the reward of the new creation that was about to be received at the imminent return of Christ in Revelation Rev.2:10/3:11; 21-22:12. It was also described by Paul as the “crown of righteousness” that was “about to be” given by the appearing of the Judge in (2 Tim. 4:8)!
All one needs to do is follow Peter’s use of the words “appear(ing)” “glory” “reveal(ing)” “all things” “at hand” and “about to be” within this letter, especially within chapter 4-5, and he will easily see Peter is discussing a first century imminent Second Coming, judgment, and rewarding of the crown of “glory” or the glorification of the Church. I must appeal to common sense in asking the questions, “Is it not a purely arbitrary hermeneutic that Mathison has employed, in which time texts in the book of Revelation refer to A.D. 70 but then he decides to not want to discuss pertinent time texts in the rest of the N.T.? Is it not creedally arbitrary that he claims Christ came and was glorified “in” the persecuted saints of 2Thess.1:10 as an A.D.70 redemptive event, but then fails to take the plethora of time statements here in 1Peter directly linked to being a partaker and sharer in the “glory” as an immient A.D.70 event?” And how can he or Gentry ignore the immediate context associated with these time texts in which a discussion of “the time” of “the judgment” pointing back to the “living and dead” as referring to the same imminent A.D.70 event! It is not that this cannot be proven from the immediate context and context of Peter’s writings themselves, but because there is a creedal a priori arbitrary hermeneutic that is guiding men like Mathison and Gentry to not follow what partial preterists claim to be a “common sense” approach to their alleged “exegetical eschatology.” The “ready” “at hand” and “about to be” reception and revealing of God’s “glory” or the glorification of the Church, is clearly evident to the sincere seeker of the truth. The facts are simply too obvious – the imminent reception of this glory at Christ’s return in “the judgment” of the “living and the dead” is just to close to the subject of the resurrection, and so these texts go un-cited or un-clarified with their “preterist” or “possible” preterist interpretations of 4:5, 7!
Peter closes his first letter by referring to the place in which he was writing his letters from (Jerusalem), as apostate “Babylon” (v.13). The early Christians were in the process of “coming out of her” spiritually and when the armies surrounded Jerusalem they would literally come out of her. This historical event communicated to all the nations that they had an eternal and enduring City who’s maker and builder was God and their predictions of it coming down from heaven to be received “in” them in an “about to be” time frame had been accomplished. This is but one of many reasons the Great Harlot City Babylon in Revelation is Jerusalem where the Lord was slain Rev.11:8 and another N.T. proof text for a pre-A.D.70 date for Revelation.
“By Way of Reminder” & The Eschatological Time Texts in 2 Peter
Peter begins this second letter in chapter 1 by telling his first century brethren that he is going to “remind” them of what he had written to them in his first letter about God’s “precious promises” and their “abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom” (2Pet.1:4/1Pet.1:10-12, 2Pet.1:11-15). Clearly the salvation that was “ready” to be revealed to them in his first letter is the “entrance into the everlasting kingdom.” So right off the bat anyone with common sense can realize that the time texts that applied in his first letter now apply to the second! The sign of Mt.24:11 and the presence of false teachers and mockers Jesus had warned would come before His return are now present accusing Peter and the other apostles of making up and following cunning devised fables in their teachings about Christ’s Second Coming of which he addressed in his first letter–see verses 14, 2:1ff..
In chapter two Peter discusses the “judgment” of these false teachers using once again the example of Noah and the flood. Since Peter is “reminding” them of this judgment, then this is obviously referring to “the judgment” in (1Pet.4:5, 7, 17) that was “ready” and “at hand” and involved “the living and the dead.” It is worth re-iterating, that the sign of deception and apostasy Jesus had warned would come as a precursor to His return in their “this generation” (Mt.24:5, 11, 23, 27-34), Peter tells his first century audience was already present in the form of these false teachers presently challenging his teaching and they would eventually gain ground with their deceptions 1:16, 2:2. This “sign” is important when we discuss Mathison and Gentry’s futuristic interpretation of the “last days” and their postmillennial eschatology concerning the apostasy. These men claim there are no signs before the Second Coming of Jesus and that all the signs in the Olivet discourse apply to Christ’s A.D. 70 return.
1) “In their greed they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money. But God condemned them long ago, and their destruction will not be delayed.” (2Pet.2:3 NLT)
Contrary to Richard Pratt’s theory of a postponed Second Coming concerning the judgment of these men that are persecuting and seeking to undermine Peter and the church, Peter assures them that God was not asleep, idle, or lingering, and therefore, He would “not be delayed” in bring His judgment upon them – for their lack of repentance within “the covenant community.” Since we saw in (1Pet.4:5, 7, 17 – 5) that the judgment was “ready” and “at hand” in its approaching relationship to the revealing of Christ, we understand what Peter means when he writes God “will not be delayed.” This judgment is also called “the day of judgment” in verse 9 in which Peter says God had [pronounced] their judgment “long ago” in verse 3 and they have been sovereignly “reserved” or “held in custody” as a prisioner that were ready for execution!
But the exegete needs to ask, “But where in the Scriptures had God “condemned them long ago”? This is not difficult to answer since Peter makes at least two references to Deut. 32:5-6 in this chapter alone–verses 1, 12-13. Peter first describes them as “denying the Lord that bought them.” This is usually brought up as an Arminian or 4 point “Calvinist” “proof text” to support the unproven theory that Christ died for even those who were ordained or made for destruction. If this is speaking of Christ’s atonement it would be coupled with the purchase price such as His “blood” etc. This however is an echo of Deut. 32:5-6 in which Peter is saying in effect, along with verses 12-13, “they claim to be of Moses, Abraham, and the ‘fathers’ having been ‘bought/made/and acquired’ of Him at the first exodus, but because they in effect deny His Son (the pre-incarnate Jehovah), they are in reality only “spots” and “blemishes” and not His true children as we are.” It had first appeared that they had “escaped” the corruptions and bondage of the elements of the old-covenant world, but because their natures had not been undergoing a real changing process into the new creation of God, they would return to the deeds of their true nature–as a dog or pig returns to its vomit and mire (1:4/2Cor.3-5:17/Gals.4:3, 9,19; 2Pet.2:22).
As we have seen before, Peter’s appeals to the Song of Moses Deut. 32 are not new. In (Acts 2:40), he quotes old covenant Israel’s “last days” terminal generation in (Deut. 32:5, 20) and exhorts his contemporaries to save themselves from the judgment of “the great and dreadful day of the Lord,” by stating, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” POINT: Peter has not invented TWO different “last days” judgments or one period spanning thousands of years in his appeals to Deut. 32 in Acts and then moving into 2Pet.2-3! It is the same judgment and will occur within their generation as Moses and then Jesus had predicted.
Before leaving chapter 2 and entering into the hotly debated chapter 3, let’s not forget that Peter is constantly bringing up the theme of the flood judgment as a type of “THE judgment” of which it is said was “ready” “at hand” and would “not tarry” (1Pet.3:20-21/4:5, 7, 17, 2Pet.2:3, 5, 9). Having laid this as a solid foundation, let’s see if somehow chapter 3 is completely separated from what Peter has taught in Acts and in his first and second letters up to this point.
2) “The Lord is not slack [Gk. Braduno- or is not tarrying or “slow” cf. Heb.10:37b althoughadifferent Greek word, the same concept] concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us–ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2Peter 3:9)
The main debates and eschatological questions that are usually generated out of a study of 2 Peter 3 are the following: 1) “Is verse 8 is a passage in which all the time texts in the New Testament can be funneled through to justify a delayed 2000+ years of Christ’s return?” 2) “Is there a connection between Peter’s subject matter of a 1,000 years and new creation with John’s in Revelation 20-22?” And lastly, “Since the mockers and Peter appeal to passages in Genesis 1-7, doesn’t that mean that the “elements” of this creation are dealing with the planet earth and not the dissolution of the old-covenant?”
a) Is Peter trying to communicate in (2Pet. 3:8) that “the end of all things is at hand” (1Pet. 4:7) could mean a 2000+ year delay of Christ’s return?
Peter clearly begins by stating what follows is a “reminder” to what he had written in 1 Peter! Therefore, the Second Coming, reception and inheritance of the kingdom and glory, the judgment of the living and the dead, and the “end of all things” being “at hand” are now subjects Peter is going to continue to discuss in this chapter. The time frame remains the same except Peter is going to expound upon some of the “prophets” and their predictions he had earlier said would be fulfilled in his day in 1Pet.1:4-12, but now is going to narrow down to one of these prophets and prophecies —namely Isaiah 63-66.
It is alleged that this is the only text in the New Testament that turns the plethora of over 100 clear time texts to total and compete irrelevance, “There is no doubt that in the New Testament the nearness of the end is limited to one generation. But this error of perspective (“Perspektivenirrtum”), which is corrected in only one place of the New Testament (2Pet. 3:8)…”
Again, this is the contradictory “the end is always near” “faith makes every generation to be the terminal generation” theology that Sproul correctly identified as being liberal and unorthodox to Christianity! Any student of hermeneutics knows one is never to build a doctrine off of one verse of the Bible especially when it contradicts an overwhelming amount of very clear passages! And if Peter is here trying to change the meaning of “at hand” (1Pet.4:7) to possibly mean thousands of years, then why don’t we find Paul or any of the other New Testament writers under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit giving such contradictory qualifiers as Ridderbos falsely accused Peter of doing here?
Since Richard Pratt wants to do some parallels with 2 Peter 3:8-9 to that of some Old Testament texts (WSTTB?, pp.151-154) I welcome the challenge and will condemn his interpretation as the theology of the “mockers” in this very chapter.
In the Old Testament, God was very angry when mockers would come denying and twisting His time texts and change “near” predictions to become “far off” ones! Any cross reference to (Ezk.7:5-10; 12:22-28) should be considered at this point. I find it odd that many commentators and cross reference works do oddly turn to this parallel passage which ends up refuting and condemning their futuristic interpretations of 2 Peter 3:8! Even futurist commentaries acknowledge that one of the sins of the false prophets and apostates of Eziekel’s day was not that they denied a coming judgment, but that they sought to change the meaning of “at hand” to “far off.” “…here formalists do not go so far as to deny that a day of evil is coming, but assert it is still far off (Am 6:3).”
The application of God’s Word here is firm and clear to the futurist who seeks to twist His time texts to fit into his uninspired creedal theology. As discussed in my section on Hebrews, this is a direct assault on the very nature of God Himself and portrays Him as a “liar” and unfaithful to keep His covenant oath and promises! Even reformed futurist Gary DeMar comments on the parallels of Ezekiel’s prophecy with that of Jesus,’ “Ezekiel’s description of the imminent destruction of the temple and the city of Jerusalem parallels what happened to Israel after the ascension and enthronement of Jesus. A warning of impending doom had been given to the nation. Many ignored the warning and died in the conflagration that came upon the city in A.D.70, on generation after Jesus pronounced His judgment (Matthew 24:14, 34; 1 Peter 4:7; Revelation 1:1, 3).” And , “Based on the way “quickly,” “near,” and “shortly” are used in Genesis through Revelation, any student of the Bible who does not interpret these time texts to mean anything other than close at hand is in jeopardy of denying the integrity of the Bible.”
Let’s not hold back here, all of our reformed opponents (including the partial preterist ones – Genrtry and Mathison) are united (WSTTB?, pp.203, 326) in portraying Christ as “slow” “delayed” and thus un-faithful to keep His promises to return and judge in the imminent time frame Peter has described in both of his letters and in his sermons in Acts!
Isaiah prophesied that Babylon’s judgment was “at hand” and would not be delayed (Isa.13:6, 9, 22). Indeed God’s judgment of Babylon occurred through the means of the Medes and Persians and was not “prolonged” let alone delayed thousands of years because God is said to be “outside of time.” The de-creation language of verses 9-10 refer to the civil and religious powers of Babylon falling in this in time historical judgment. However one wants to understand the army of the locusts in Joel’s prophecy, it was described as the “Day of the Lord” and was “at hand,” and therefore the people facing this imminent event needed to repent (Joel 1:2-3, 11, 13, 15, 2:15). Zephaniah prophesied that the “Day of the Lord” was “at hand” againt Judah by means of the Babylonian armies and it also was not delayed thousands of years. Nor was “at hand” understood to mean thousands of years because God was “outside of time.”
Men such as Richard Pratt and John MacArthur
have attempted to refute us by arguing from verse 9 that God has postponed or delayed His Second Coming because of His attribute of being “longsuffering” towards sinners. It is also argued by these men that the Great Commission hasn’t been fulfilled and is thus another reason God has “delayed” some 2,000+ years and counting. I have already refuted these arguments by demonstrating that the commandment of the Great Commission had already been fulfilled before A.D.70: 1) Mt.24:14/Rms.10:18 “all the world” oikoumene; 2) Mrk.13:10/Rms.16:25-26 “all nations” ethnos; 3) Lk.24:46-47/Rms.16:25-26 “all nations” ethnos; 3) Mrk.16:15/Col.1:5-6 “all the world” kosmos; 4) Mrk.16:15/Col.1:23 “every creature” kitisis; 5) Acts 1:8/Rms.10:18 “ends [or all] of the earth/land” ge & oikoumene. The concept of God’s “longsuffering” does not necessitate a 2,000+ year “delay” of Christ’s return! The text clearly says God would not be slow or delay as stated in Heb.10:37! Allowing Scripture to interpret itself, His “longsuffering” was directed towards sinners living in and coming to repentance within a very specific time frame—their–“this generation” and no other!
Our text is very clear that God was not willing (Greek Boulomai) that His elect (in context, the “beloved” Jewish and gentile) “any” and “all” should perish. This is the strongest word in the Greek language to communicate the determinative will of God. Peter’s theology is consistent–God would not delay or be slow nor was His decretive will to save and judge sinners in an “at hand” “ready” “be saved from this crooked and perverse generation” time frame–to be postponed! Everything was going as planned and decreed by God! To argue any other way is to align oneself with the mockers of Peter’s day, deny inspiration, adopt a liberal view of interpreting Scripture, and deny ones own Calvinism—selah. Peter goes on to say that God’s longsuffering was “salvation.” None of God’s elect that He had sovereignly foreordained unto eternal life “perished” or were “appointed to wrath” in the fall of Jerusalem in A.D.70. To be an Arminian preterist and teach otherwise is to teach God failed and continues to fail in His redemptive purposes and essentially is to deny ones preterism—selah. This is a fundamental flaw to the “sovereignty” of God arguments that Don Preston uses against futurists who postpone Christ’s kingdom plans either in His first or Second Coming, as God “altering” His kingdom plans. Don states, “His Son would not fail! IF YOUR THEOLOGY SAYS THAT GOD FAILED, YOU NEED TO CHANGE YOUR THEOLOGY!”
And yet Don gives the following propostions: 1) Christ died potentially for the entire race, 2) it is God’s sovereign will to save them, BUT 3) their “free will” “alters” God’s redemptive will and plans! As much respenct as I have for Don, I believe he needs to be consistent in his sovereignty of God arguments within his preterist beliefs, and become a Calvinist, or be consistent in his Arminianism and become a Universalist like Max King. If Christ died for all mankind and it is His will to save all of them then “your theology says that God failed, and you need to change your theology!” If Christ saved believers and it was His will that they not perish then or today (pre or post A.D. 70), and some did and continue to today in the new-covenant age, then, “your theology says that God failed, and you need to change your theology!” Its really that simple.
Before leaving the “timing” issue in this chapter, we need to briefly go over again Peter’s “last days” period involves two “signs” in Matthew 24 that were to precede the Second Coming of Jesus. He discusses the “scoffers” that would come during the “last days” which correspond to the false teachers and prophets Jesus had warned of in the Olivet Discourse. The “scoffers” work would obviously lead to the apostasy which was another “sign” Jesus gave. The majority of commentators such as Kistemaker, agree with us, that these mockers had already arrived and are described in the previous chapters. They also accurately parallel them with Mt.24:3-5, 11, 23-26. Therefore, it is not true for Mathison to say that the presence of the scoffers “is explicitly said to be future” in hopes of extending the “last days” into our future (WSTTB?, p.190). And although Kistemaker does admit that the scoffers were present and remain a factor in the future before Christ returns, neither Mathison nor Kistemaker can prove that “the future” for Peter and his audience is a 2000+ years and counting “future” time! It would be nice if Mathison would read Peter’s previous discussions of the scoffers and even Jude’s treatment of them in Jude 17-18 before claiming this prophecy “is explicitly said to be future” when this is just dead wrong! Gentry and Mathison are in trouble here because Peter is clearly discussing two “signs” Jesus gave in the Olivet discourse. But according to their artificial division theory of the discourse, there can be no signs preceding the “final” Second Coming of which they claim 2 Peter 3 is addressing. Peter is obviously not following the two section theory and two coming theory that Mathison and Gentry have invented in Matthew 24. This is consistent with what we saw in the writings of Luke in Luke 17 and Paul in 1Thessalonians 4-5. Neither of them followed a two sections or two second coming theory of Matthew 24. Peter is discussing the same signs and the same coming of Christ in Mt.24:5-34 and it would occur within Peter’s “this generation” and therefore would not be delayed as some were tempted to think and heckled.
Peter tells his audience to not be alarmed because not only were the “scoffers” a prediction of what Jesus said would come in their generation, but they were also the fulfillment of the “last days” prophecies predicted in the “prophets.” In Isaiah these scoffers are identified in (Isa.1-2, 28:14, 22). As we have already seen there are “survivors” of this “Day of the Lord” and both Jesus and John in Revelation apply the prophecy to A.D.70 (Lk.23:30/Rev.6:9-15) and therefore these “scoffers” would be judged in a “little while.”
b) “Is there a connection between Peter’s appeal to a 1,000 years and the new creation with John’s in Revelation 20-22?”
Since Peter quotes from Psalm 90, we need to examine its context to better understand where this 1,000 years is originating from. I would agree with the commentators that see Moses statement of man returning to the dust and the appeal to a thousand years in (Ps. 90:3-4) as a reference to Adam and his judgment and mortality being contrasted with God’s holiness and immortality. Of verse 4, “Even were our days now a thousand years, as Adam’s, our life would be but a moment in God’s sight (#2Pe 3:8). Many commentators make this connection.
Many have wondered if there is any connection between Peter’s 1,000 years and new creation motif in 2 Peter 3 with that of John’s in Rev.20-21. I believe there is. Based upon Psalm 90, the Jews understood the Messiah’s intermediate millennial reign to be the antitype fulfillment of Israel’s 40 years of wilderness wanderings and at the same time a literal or figurative antitype fulfillment of Adam’s 1,000 years probationary period leading to his death in the first paradise. Reformed theologian G.K. Beale addresses both of these periods being derived from Psalm 90:
“There are numerous Jewish traditions about the nature and length of the future messianic reign. Some speculated that there would be no messianic reign at all, while others proposed periods of an intermediate reign from 40 to 365,000 years.”
“see the surveys of rabbinic views in b. Sanhedrin 97a-b, 99a; Midr. Ps. 90:17; Pesikta Rabbati 1…”
“The thousand-year period in Jub. 23:27-30 is clearly figurative for the complete perfection of the eternal time of blessing for God’s people: “The days will begin to grow many and increase among those people until their days become one thousand years, and a greater number of years than before is the number of the days. And there will be no old man… And they will complete all their days and live in peace and joy … and rejoice with joy forever and ever.” The number one thousand is derived from Jub. 4:29-30, which alludes to Isa. 65:22 LXX (“the days of my people will be as the days of the tree of life; they will long enjoy the fruits of their labors”): “Adam died … he lacked seventy years of one thousand years; for one thousand years are as one day [Ps. 90:4] in the testimony of the heavens, and therefore was it written concerning the tree of knowledge: ‘On the day you eat of it you will die.’ For this reason he did not complete the years of this day; for he died during it.” Jubilees understands that the ideal life of the probationary period (“day”) in Eden should have been one thousand years (so also Midr. Rab. Gen. 19.8; Midr. Rab. Num. 5.; Midr. Ps. 25.8 on the basis of Psalm 90). The Jubilees text concludes that the future messianic reign must achieve what Adam did not because Adam did not live one thousand years, because Isa. 65:22 prophesied that the messianic age will last as long as the ideal meant for the first paradise (likewise Test. Levi 18:8-13), and because of Ps. 90:4 (the Jubilees tradition of the ideal millennial span of the first paradise is reflected in Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses 5.23:2).At least in part, Jub. 23:27-30 was influenced to conceive of this millennium figuratively by the Psalm 90 formula, whereas early church fathers like Justin Martyr (Dialogue 81) used the same reasoning to formulate a literal premillennial persepective…” (Beale, ibid, p.1019)
Peter has been appealing to Genesis 1-7 in verses 4-6, and he now cites a Psalm that does the same–all the while upholding the “this crooked and perverse generation” transition 40 year millennial time frame to be the period of God’s “long suffering” before an “at hand” “not delayed” “end” and “judgment” arrives! Adam falling short of the 1,000 years (Genesis 5:5 – 930) represents him being created a mortal being and him perishing outside of God’s presence in sin. Therefore, it is more than reasonable, that the number 1,000 took on the symbolism and representation of God’s immortality, completeness, and eternality as being contrasted with mans temporal, dependency, and mortal frailty apart from God’s salvation. When Messiah would come He would not fail any kind of testing or probationary period Adam or Israel had undergone in the past. Peter has addressed both time frames, one with a new exodus 40 year “this generation” motif in his sermon in (Acts 2:40) and I believe here he is addressing the new creation 1,000 year millennial motif that was common among the Rabbi’s of his day as well. From what I understand from Beale’s comments, some Rabbis thought the 1,000 year transition millennial period of Messiah derived from an antitype of Adam in Gen.5:5/Ps.90:3-4 would be a literal 1,000 years while others took the 1,000 years to be a figurative number–similar to what we have today within the premillennial, postmillennial & amillennial debates. I concur with those futurists that have sought to see a relationship between the 1,000 years of Peter and John in Revelation 20 while at the same time agreeing with amillennialists that the 1,000 years is a figurative number.
Through faith and our union with Christ as our Last Adam, the Tree of Life, and New Creation, Christians have achieved what Adam did not–we have been clothed with “immortality,” live to be a thousand years, or “never die” (2Cor.1:20; 1Cor.15:45-53; Rev.21-22; Jn.11:26-27). In Revelation 20, the Church awaiting an imminent Second Coming during this 40 year transition period were living and reigning with Christ for a 1,000 years. The “Tree of Life,” of which Adam never partook of in the first creation and was thus banished from, had been given back to the new-covenant people–a new and glorified man, the Church. They were coming to life and lived and reigned a thousand years under the new creation. We remain in God’s eternal day as His new creation bringing light, immortality, and healing to the nations of the world as we preach the everlasting gospel 2 Timothy 1:9-11; Rev. 20-22.
c) “Since the mockers and Peter appeal to the creation in (Gen.1-7), doesn’t this mean the “elements” of the de-creation/re-creation is involving the literal planet and not the old-covenant creation?”
Reformed theologians such as John Owen and John Lightfoot along with many others, correctly understood the “elements” here not as the rocks and tress of the planet earth, but of the old-covenant law and the “Day of the Lord” occurring in A.D. 70. John Owen stated of our passage here,
“Peter tells them, that, after the destruction and judgment that he speaks of, verse 13, ‘We, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth,’ etc. ‘They had this expectation. But what is that promise? Where may we find it? Why, we have it in the very words and letter, Isa. Lxv. 17. Now, when shall this be that God will create these ‘new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness?’ Saith Peter, ‘It shall be after the coming of the Lord, after that judgment and destruction of ungodly men, who obey not the gospel, that I foretell.’ But now it is evident, from this place of Isaiah, with chap. Lxvi., 21, 22 that this is a prophecy of gospel times only; and that the planting of these new heavens is nothing but the creation of gospel ordinances, to endure for ever. The same thing is so expressed, Heb. Xii. 26-28. Let others mock at the threats of Christ’s coming. – he will come, he will not tarry; and then the heavens and earth that God himself planted, – the sun, moon, stars of the Judaical polity and church, – the whole old world of worship and worshippers, that stand out in their obstinacy against the Lord Christ, – shall be sensibly dissolved and destroyed. This, we know, shall be the end of these things, and that shortly.’”
“‘The heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat,’ &c. Compare this with Deut. 32:22, Heb. 12:26: and observe that by elements are understood the Mosaic elements, Gal. 4:9, Col. 2:20: and you will not doubt see that Peter speaks only of the conflagration of Jerusalem, the destruction of the nation, and the abolishing the dispensation of Moses.”
Notice how both Owen and Lightfoot state clearly the old creation and the new in our passage “only” refer to the passing of two covenantal worlds by the “Day of the Lord” in A.D.70. The text is in no way discussing the passing and re-creating of the planet earth. Gentry and Mathison both reason that since Peter is making some connections to the “beginning” of (Gen.1) that this passing of the elements and world must be discussing the destruction of the literal planet. And yet both of them claim in John’s vision of “…the first heaven and the first earth had passed away,..” in (Rev.21), that this is the old- covenant Mosaic creation passing in A.D.70 with the new taking its place! Mathison writes, “Revelation 21 introduces the vision of a new heaven and a new earth and the new Jerusalem. This fulfills Isaiah 65:17-25 and numerous other Old Testament prophecies. Revelation 21:2-22:5 describes the new Jerusalem coming down from heaven. In this vision, we see the original covenant purposes of God fulfilled. (Postmillennialism, ibid., p.157, emphasis added). Gentry states, “The heavenly Jerusalem is the bride of Christ that came down from God to replace the earthly Jerusalem (Rev.21:2-5) in the first century (Rev.1:1, 3; 22:6, 10). With the shaking and destruction of the old Jerusalem in A.D.70, the heavenly (re-created) Jerusalem replaced her…” And again, “The New Heavens and New Earth here (and many places elsewhere) has reference to the New Covenant era. James Jordan reaches back to Genesis 1 as well, “…the distinction between an Edenic land and other lands is eliminated. In fact, since the Gentile lands are often pictured as the sea, “there is no longer any sea” (Rev.21:1). “We no longer have five environments with five different degrees of access to God (Heaven, Firmament-Heaven, Sanctuary, Land, World). Now all believers have the same access, and all unbelievers are outside. There are only two environments.” “The whole order of the first creation, with its Heavens-Sanctuary-Eden-World divisions, was going to be wiped out. A new creation had come. Thus, the cosmic model presented in Revelation 21-22 is different from anything found in the Old Testament. There are only two environments: inside the New Jerusalem and outside the New Jerusalem.” “It is sanctuary and land rolled together, and set up “on earth as in heaven,” so that it is four-square in shape like the heavenly Most Holy (21:16).”
If Mathison and Gentry agree that John’s de-creation/re-creation of the “original” creation in Genesis 1-2 occurred in A.D.70 because the time texts demand it, then how can Gentry and Mathison then make a case for the passing of the creation in 2 Peter 3 to be the “literal” planet, because Peter mentions Genesis 1 material? The fact that both John and Peter are referring to the same A.D.70 de-creation/re-creation event and coming of the Lord is further established in that both Revelation 21 and 2 Peter 3 are drawing from the very Old Testament prophecy found in Isaiah 65-66. Remember, “Things which are equal to the same thing are also equal to each other.” Gentry tries to do some hermeneutical gymnastics claiming John’s de-creation/re-creation interpretation of Isaiah 65-66 was spiritual and occurred in A.D.70, while Peter decides to “expand” the Isaiah passage to a literal fulfillment, “…Yet as an inspired apostle he expands on that truth, looking to the ultimate outcome of the spiritual new heavens and earth in the eternal new creation.”
The text of course does not say this but it is theologically necessary for Gentry to read his “expanded” literal fulfillment into the text in order to support his creedal philosophy. The problem Mathison and Gentry have created for themselves, is they have invented out of thin air, another “already” and “not yet” New Testament eschatology with two Second Comings to bring an end to two “ages” to usher in two new heavens and earths, where the New Ttestament only addresses one! It is more than Gentry and Mathison being out of step with other reformed partial preterists such as John Owen and John Lightfoot here in 2 Peter 3 that is in view here. It has more to do with following the sound laws of hermeneutics. Based upon Mathison and Gentry’s arbitrary hermeneutics, how can they object when dispensationalists take various Old Testament texts and deny the timing and spiritual nature of their New Testament fulfillments when they “expand” them to fit into their artificial and man made eschatology? When dispensationalists or partial preterists run into passages that don’t fit their artificial systems, they just “expand” their meanings! The “elements” and “heavens and earth” that were burned up here in connection to the “Day of the Lord” are those referred to by our Lord in Matthew 24:27-35 in connection to the destruction of the temple in A.D.70:
Heavens are stretched out like a curtain (Ps. 104:2)
Firmament (Gen. 1:2)
Temple veil (Exod.26:33)
Waters below firmament
Laver or bronze sea (Exod. 30:18)
Light stand (Exod. 25:31)
Birds (Gen. 1:20)
Winged cherubim (Exod. 25:20)
Man (Gen. 1:27)
Aaron the high priest (Exod. 28:1)
Cessation (Gen. 2:1)
Blessing (Gen. 2:3)
Cessation (Exod. 39:32)
Mosaic blessing (Exod. 39:43
Completion (Exod. 39:43)
Peter’s parallel’s with Genesis 1-2.
As stated earlier, I do believe Reformed theologians such as Herman Ridderbos, Meredith Kline, and more particularly Milton Terry, were on the right track in pointing out the theological framework and emphasis of God’s creation, covenant, and judgment with man in Genesis 1-3 is focused upon mans heart and mind in relation to his guilt or innocence before God. Up to this point, Peter has been discussing the saving of the soul – “the breadth of life” (1Pet.1:9/Gen.1:7), and partaking of the divine nature or image of God (2Pet.1:4/Gen.1:26). These are themes leading his readers into another discussion of the transformation and imminent inheritance of the new creation of which the prophets foretold a fulfillment for his day (1Pet.1:4-12; Gen.1-2/Isa.65-66). Both Paul and Peter in their writings are dealing with a completely NEW creation of being in Christ – the last Adam—a heavenly man–and a life giving spirit. Peter also echos Genesis language with what was taking place for the Church as God’s new creation with the theme of a division between the light and darkness in 1Peter 2:9. The “light” and “day” coming “in” their hearts at Christ’s parousia in (2Pet.1:16-19), was not and did not affect the globe. Here in chapter 3 Peter has referenced the creation of the third day which as we have seen in Hebrew parallel structure corresponds to the 6th day of creation as well. In Genesis on the third and sixth days, the land is formed and fashioned out of the dark chaotic waters and man is formed from the dust of the land. But the six days of creation still remain in the realm of an ongoing process, because it is not all completed until God rests on the 7th and final day. Likewise, the light and glory of the new covenant’s “world of righteousness” has entered the dark and evil old covenant age/world, and is transforming it and in a “very little while” the Sabbath rest of the final day of this creation would be accomplished (Heb.3-4, 10:25, 37). As Jordan pointed out the “land” represented Israel and the “seas” represented the gentiles. The land of the new-covenant Jerusalem was being separated and created out from among the apostate old-covenant sea of Babylon/Jerusalem. The holy temple/mountain theme found in the prophets (cf. Isa. 2; Dan. 2) arising up or being built up from among the chaotic and hostile groups of the Jews and Gentiles to be at peace and form one elect and holy Nation (1Pet. 2; cf. Ephs. 2). Christ (and the Church in union with Him) was a precious Corner Stone temple/mountain “made without hands” which had covered the known world/land of Israel and the Roman Empire. This fulfilled the Great Commission and Christ came and established the “the world of righteousness” in the events of leading up to A.D.70.
Peter’s parallels with the flood in Genesis 7.
We now move on to making some parallels that can be made concerning the salvation and judgment in the flood with that of the salvation and judgment/wrath that was “about to” occur in A.D.70. Peter is following Jesus’ teaching and his parallels with the judgment of the flood in Noah’s day as being a type and paralleled to His Second Coming as taught by Jesus in Matthew 24-25 and Luke 17. There are more parallels here than a mere suddenness of judgment if futurists want to push more parallels. Reformed theologians (as well as preterists) debate the extent of the flood as being either local or global as they do the age of the earth. I would agree with those evangelical and reformed theologians that believe in a local flood. Defending that position here would be to develop a book or significant chapter in and of itself. But what it really comes down to for me is just looking at how the words for earth/land are used in the Hebrew-eretz and then in the Greek-ge and at the same time analyzing similar phrases such as in (Genesis 7:23 ESV and Luke 21:32, 35). Many futurists such as Kistemaker, merely assume and then falsely argue because the flood was global, the judgment by fire, the great tribulation and judgments in the Olivet discourse and the Book of Revelation must also be global events, “Notice that Peter draws a parallel (see vv. 6 and 7); he contrasts the ancient world with the present heavens and earth. The world of Noah was destroyed by water; the present world will be burned with fire. The conclusion seems to be that the flood was universal, much the same as the imminent destruction by fire will be universal.
Apparently in Mr. Kistemaker’s logic, God is saying, “I promised to never destroy man and animal life globally by water, but I never said anything about fire – gotcha, ha, ha” (Gen.9:15-16).
After studying the New Testament’s use of ge which is the equivalent to its Hebrew father eretz, I find the parallel’s to be local and not global when the judgment of the flood is compared with the judgments described by Jesus, Peter, and John in Luke 17; Matthew 24; 2 Peter 3; & Revelation. In the spiritual and unseen realm however, angels and spirits of men were judged and a new creation was established in the hearts of God’s people. Within the local geographical judgment and sphere of A.D.66-70, redemption had been accomplished and secured universally for God’s elect throughout all of time and history pre or post A.D.70. The local geographical judgment upon Jerusalem is no less significant and universal in scope than Christ being crucified outside the walls of Jerusalem!
God in Noah’s day allowed the barrier of the threatening waters to cross on to the local land to purge and cleanse it. Likewise the Roman army consisted of the “nations of the earth” and God was going to send them to judge and sweep the ungodly away from Jerusalem.
Both judgments involved a local land setting and not a global one. How about the parallels to the salvation of the righteous in A.D.70? Adam’s sin entailed the spiritual death of his soul and an experience of guilt and shame in the unseen spiritual “in” or “with in” realm of man. Therefore, the souls of the remnant were “saved” and purged from dead works at Christ’s Second appearing in A.D.70. Their flight from Jerusalem did not entail a global exodus or “rapture” to heaven, but a local flight to Pella. The realm of this exodus from sin is spiritual, taking place in the heart, and the physical aspect of this salvation entailed a local deliverance and not a global one. For those futurists that want to push global parallel’s, these would be the parallels local ones I see with the Genesis 1-7 that Peter is interacting with concerning an imminent reception of a salvation/new creation and a judgment for the wicked in A.D.70.
“But how was (Isa.65:17-22) fulfilled in A.D.70?”
Before leaving this chapter, I hear the above objection ringing in my ear so let me briefly address it and tie it into the thousand years of verse 8 and Psalm 90:3-4. Remember in my quote of Beale, the Rabbis equated Isaiah 65:22 with that of Psalm 90:3-4 to establish this 1,000 year millennium period! I agree with the connections. This passage in Isaiah 65:20, 22 is a poetic description of covenantal blessings being a type of eternal life. The 100 years is an echo of the blessings and curses of the old-covenant creation in Deut. 28, while the tree of life or age attaining to trees, is an echo to Genesis 1-5. When God’s people under the old covenant obeyed God they usually saw long life. An example of experiencing this covenantal blessing of long life can be seen in Moses living to be a 120 years, (cf.Gen.6:3) and Joshua’s 100 years. Long life in relation to trees could be speaking of the long life that man enjoyed in early history such as Adam 930 years, or speaking directly of the Tree of Life–Christ and our eternal life found in Him. These descriptions of long life in the Old Testament are describing in type form of abundant and eternal life in Christ under the new-covenant creation. Jesus said, “…I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (Jn.11:25-26). Although not Biblical Preterists, John Gill and Matthew Henry comments are somewhat helpful on Isaiah 65:22), “The allusion may be to the tree of life in paradise, and may be expressive of the long life of good men in this state; and as the tree of life was typical of Christ, who is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon him, it may denote that eternal life his people have by him”
“…as the days of the tree of life; so the LXX. Christ is to them the tree of life, and in him believers enjoy all those spiritual comforts which are typified by the abundance of temporal blessings here promised; and it shall not be in the power of their enemies to deprive them of these blessings or disturb them in the enjoyment of them.”
The “curse” of sinners and “death” is referring to a rejection of the gospel which is the second dead, or a spiritual death experienced outside the gates of the City (Jordan’s “two environments”). The cursed also live for a 100 years indicating the opposite of eternal life–the wrath of God abiding upon the wicked in the gospel dispensation and their eternal torment which follows their rejection into eternity.
But how are we to reconcile physical birth and death in Isaiah 65:20 with that of eternal life and “no death” with deaths defeat in A.D.70 in Isaiah 25/1Corinthians15/Revelation 21? The physical utopia concept of a new heavens and earth of creedalism is not taught here. If a literal hermeneutic is insisted upon the traditional futuristic paradigm is in trouble for there is physical birth, death, sinners, agriculture, labor, and house building taking place in the new creation or the “age to come.” We must ask our Reformed futuristic and dispensational opponents, “Is there going to be “tears” over the physical “death” of loved ones in the new heavens and new earth?” And “where are these births coming from if we are going to be like the angels in heaven and not marriages are going to take place? If literal, are these illegitimate children being born?” In our view of the new heavens and earth having come at Christ’s Second Coming in A.D.70, we can both explain why there is physical death and tears and yet no death and no tears for the Christian at the same time. At Christ’s Second Coming He conquered the curse of spiritual death that was magnified through the old-covenant Mosaic law. When the outer shell of the old Mosaic covenant system collapsed, this was a sign that the spiritual death it magnified had been conquered and destroyed for those “in Christ.” Physical death still exists and will always exist for Christians and non-Christians alike. But because Christ has come and given His Church eternal life, we “never die.” The law does not condemn us therefore weeping over a need for a mediator, priest, or sacrifice to take away our sins completely is not necessary.
The “birth” of children in our passage is not referring to physical birth, but being born again or born from above through the gospel under the new-covenant creation and then preaching the gospel and raising up seed in the kingdom through the Word of God (Jn.3:6-8; 1Jn. 3:9; 1Pet.1:23; Acts 8/Isa.53-56; Rms.4:16; Gal.3:29). Labor and agriculture is a reference to our labors in the gospel and the fruitful benefits that come from such an undertaking (Mt.11:28, 13:8, 23, 21:33-43; Jn.4:36-38, 6:27, 15:5; Rms.6:22, 7:4, 15:28, 16:12; Phil.1:11, 22/2:25, 4:17; 1Tim.5:17; Heb.4:11, 6:10; Rev.22:2). Such laboring in the Gospel was not in vain (1Cor.15:58). We have fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and children in the gospel and enjoy the fruits of the Spirit that come forth from such labors and fellowship in the family of God (Mt.12:48-50).
And what of Isaiah 65:25? Here it is stated that the “wolf and the lamb will feed together.” This is parallel imagery to Isaiah 11:6-9 and we understand this language metaphorically being descriptive of peace within the heart or between Jew and Gentile in the Kingdom. This is how most Reformed theologians understand this kind of prophetic language as well. We just don’t read into the New Testament their “expanded” and “physical phases” of which these texts never discuss!
Concluding the eschatology of 1 & 2 Peter:
Like the writer to the Hebrew’s, Peter specifically taught Christ would not “delay” or be “slow” to return, but indeed was faithful to preserve the Church and establish her as His new creation within that specific “last days” A.D.70 generation. The passing and dissolution of the “elements” of the first creation, and entering and inheriting “the world of righteousness,” had to do with the “saving of the soul.” Peter’s theology is that of John’s in the Book of Revelation. The amillennialist consistently sees 2 Peter 3 and Revelation 21-22 as literally being fulfilled and culminating in a physical and literal coming of Christ at the end of history. Mathison and Gentry either need to revert back to this kind of literal consistency, or move on into a more “progressive preterist” position that does not break-up the harmony of the New Testament Scriptures in either the imminent timing or the spiritual nature of fulfillment of prophecy. Gentry, Mathison, and rest of the authors of WSTTB,, break from the reformed tradition of men like Owen and DeMar, and believe the “last days” of verse 3 is referring to the end of time and not the end of the old-covenant age. Peter has already addressed the “last days” earlier in his first letter as the “last time” and “last times.” It was clear in chapter 1 of first Peter that the Second Coming and their inheritance of which ALL the Old Testament prophets had predicted would come, had arrived, and was “ready” to be fulfilled in their day – not a future one! Peter’s second letter and specifically within the controversial chapter 3, is a “reminder” of the imminent inheritance/entrance and judgment he spoke of in his first letter. There is no exegetical evidence for Pratt’s theory whereby Peter is allegedly learning that the Second Coming was going to be postponed or delayed because of a lack of repentance from the covenant community. It was this lack of repentance from those who were not ordained to eternal life which caused Christ to return imminently, and it was the repentance of the remnant within that generation which secured the imminent “salvation of the soul” at Christ’s return in A.D. 70.
Pratt concludes his chapter by quoting Revelation, “This hope still inspires us to remain faithful to our Lord today. As in the first century, Christ’s imminent return is offered to us, and we too pray that he will fulfill that promise in our day. “’Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20). This is odd because according to Pratt Christ was genuinely planning on coming in the first century but His return got postponed and yet the book of Revelation knows of no such concept from beginning to end. The first verse of Revelation states, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants––things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John,” (Rev. 1:1). Again, this Greek word for “must” dei, means, “necessity established by the counsel and decree of God, especially by that purpose of his which relates to the salvation of men by the intervention of Christ and which is disclosed in the Old Testament prophecies.” And the passage in Revlation 22:20 of which Pratt closes his chapter, uses a couple of words worth mentioning. Jesus gives “solemn testimony,” “swears” or “testifies” (Greek martureo) not that He will certainly come someday, but that He will come “soon”! To have Jesus teach otherwise is to declare Jesus a false witness or giving false testimony! The other word here is “Amen” (Greek nai) which means “to be firm, steady, trustworthy.” Pratt’s view makes God’s eternal counsel and decree to send His Son within a specific generation and in a “soon” time frame as “NOT being of necessity firm, steady, or trustworthy.”
Perhaps while here in Revelation, we should address a seemingly obscure passage, “He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous, let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still. “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.” (Rev. 22:11-12). Commentators state, “This rather strange command is explained by the fact that the End will come soon, and there is no time left for people to change their way of living. This situation can be clearly expressed by beginning the verse “In the meantime” or “Meanwhile.” Mounce suggests that “from the perspective of the Seer the end is so close that there is no longer time to alter the character and habits of men.”24 This might imply that John’s view was incorrect because, from a retrospective historical view, there has been plenty of time for change.
But John’s view was not “incorrect” and He sees Christ’s coming towards the end of His generation and so “soon” that nothing is going to thwart the timing of this event! Unbelief or a lack of repentance from the “covenant community” did not “alter” God’s Kingdom plans to return “soon”!
As we have seen, God used the same exact Greek words to describe God’s sovereignly decreeing and giving counsel for the Son to come into the world and die for His elect at a very specific time and generation within time and history that He used to describe the sending His Son to return and secure redemption for His Body – the Church!
When we view the writings of Sproul, Mathison, Gentry, DeMar, and Pratt together, they offer a more than “house divided” apologetic against us! According to Sproul and DeMar, Kistemaker and Pratt are using a neo-orthodox approach to the imminent time texts and are undermining the integrity and inspiration of Scripture! We agree. Jesus did not say that His return “might be” or “could be” “near”! I believe Pratt’s approach to Christ’s return has more in common with the reasoning found in the teachings of the last days cults, liberalism, open theism, armininianism, and dispensationalism, than it does with what the Bible teaches. That Pratt’s chapter was even considered a “possible” approach by Mathison and the Reformed community is itself a sad commentary on the state of futurist eschatology and specifically Reformed eschatology. It is a clear denial of the sovereignty of God. They teach God was unable to accomplish redemption for the Church how He said He would and when He said He would do it! We do not worship such a God. Our God accomplished redemption for the Church as and when He promised.
Jesus clearly taught in Mark 8:38-9:1 that the disciples and the Church would be able to “already” know that the kingdom and the Son of Man had come when Jerusalem was destroyed in power. Pratt has a theory in which Christ promised to return in the first century but decided to postpone it because of a lack of repentance. I have demonstrated that he has no New Testament Scripture or authority to support his theory that the Second Coming got postponed! Where is the inspired record to substantiate this postponement of the Second Coming? We have inspired and authoritative witness from Scripture itself that the Church did and can look back upon the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and know that Christ returned as and when He promised – selah!
Online Bible Software,Ibid., Greek English Online Bible Greek Lexicon.
Online Bible Software,Ibid., Greek English Online Bible Greek Lexicon, [cf.1:22-25 added] .
David Green, http://www.preteristcosmos.com/Bapsave.htm
Gentry, FOUR VIEWS ON THE MILLENNIUM AND BEYOND, p.246n.45, ibid. Gentry, BEFORE JERUSALEM FELL, pp.142n., 235n., ibid. Gentry, FOUR VIEWS ON THE BOOK OF REVELATION, p.43, 89, ibid.
Gentry, FOUR VIEWS ON THE BOOK OF REVELATION, p.43, ibid.
Robert B. Strimple, FOUR VIEWS ON THE MILLENNIUM AND BEYOND, p.61, ibid.
Online Bible Software, Greek English Online Bible Greek Lexicon, ibid.
Joseph R. Balyeat, BABYLON THE GREAT CITY OF REVELATION, pp.87-102, Onward Press, 1991.
Herman Ridderbos, The Coming of the Kingdom, p. 453, P&R pub. 1962, emphasis MJS
JFB, Online Bible, emphasis added.
Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness, p.296, ibid. emphasis added.
John MacArthur, The Second Coming Signs of Christ’s Return and the End of the Age, pp.58, 213-215, ibid.
Preston, Don, The Last Days Identified, p.104,JaDon Productions 89 Magnolia St. Ardmore, OK.
Carson, D. A.: New Bible Commentary : 21st Century Edition. 4th ed. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA : Inter-Varsity Press, 1994, S. Ps 90:3 “The endangered species. For forty years Moses watched sadly as time, like an ever-rolling stream, bore all its sons away (3–6, Nu. 14:23, 29; Dt. 2:14–16) and recognized behind what he saw the dread reality of the anger of God against sin (7–11). But the truth he expressed is true of all humankind: threatened by impermanence (3–6), and blighted by wrath (7–11). It is by the agency of God that we suffer the insecurity of transience. It is by his decree (Gn. 3:19) that we return to dust—an inescapable fate, for (4) even those whose life-span was near-millennial (Gn. 5) came to death like all others and for all alike the fresh grass of the morning is the dry vegetation of the evening (5–6). Why should this be? Why should a species destined to eat of the Tree of Life and live for ever (Gn. 2:16; 3:22) crumble to dust and sleep in death? Restoring ‘For’ to the beginning of v 7 gives the answer—divine anger … indignation against iniquities … secret sins (8), wrath (9)!
G.K. Beale, The New International Greek Testament Commentary The Book of Revelation, p. 1018 -19, Eerdmans pub. 1999, emphasis MJS
Owen, John, The Works of John Owen, Banner of Truth pub., Vol.9 pp. 134-135, emphasis added.
Lightfoot, John, COMMENTARY ON THE NEW TESTAMENT FROM THE TALMUD AND HEBRAICA, Vol.3, p.452, Hendrickson pub, 2003, emphasis added.
James Jordan, Through New Eyes Developing a Biblical View of the World, pp.271-272, of (2Pet.3), p,302, ibid.
J.V. Fesko, Last Things First Unlocking Genesis 1-3 with the Christ of Eschatology, p.70, Mentor Imprint Christian Focus Publications, 2007. I would agree with the premise of the book, “…one must interpret Genesis 1-3 in the light of Christ and Eschatology.”
David Snoke, ibid., pp.158-175. Although I am not a big fan of reading let alone of promoting women seeking to teach men publicly in the Scripture, Carol Hill’s article has some good scientific arguments that are worth reading: The Noachian flood local or universal?
Kistemaker, Simon J. ; Hendriksen, William: New Testament Commentary : Exposition of the Epistles of Peter and the Epistle of Jude. Grand Rapids : Baker Book House, 1953-2001 (New Testament Commentary 16), S. 330
For a discussion of “all nations of the earth/land” and the “last days” final battle of the prophecies of Zechariah 12:19 & Rev.16 as not being a global battle of “all nations” of the planet but the local lands and world as they knew it, see Gary DeMar, ZECHARIAH 12 AND THE “ESTHER CONNECTION” pp11ff., Prophecy Press / American Vision, 2005. See also Gary DeMar, LAST DAYS MADNESS, 219-227, ibid.
Some have thought that Noah preached for 120 years, others contend that the math actually comes out to a 100 years of preaching and man’s life spans were reduced to 120 as was the case with Moses.
John Gill, Isa. 65:22, Online Bible Millennium Edition, 2003, emphasis added.
Matthew Henry, Isa. 65:22, Online Bible Millennium Edition, 2003, emphasis added
John Gill, Online Bible Software, Isaiah 11:6 – “the creatures shall be restored to that state of innocency in which they were before the fall of man. But this is not to be understood literally, which is a gross and vain conceit of some Jews; but spiritually and metaphorically, as is evident. And the sense of the metaphor is this, Men of fierce, and cruel, and ungovernable dispositions, shall be so transformed by the preaching of the gospel, and by the grace of Christ, that they shall become most humble, and gentle, and tractable, and shall no more vex and persecute those meek and poor ones mentioned Isa.11:4, but shall become such as they; of which we have instances in Saul being made a Paul, and in the rugged jailer, Acts 16, and in innumerable others.”
Bratcher, Robert G. ; Hatton, Howard: A Handbook on the Revelation to John. New York : United Bible Societies, 1993 (UBS Handbook Series; Helps for Translators), S. 319
Beale, G. K.: The Book of Revelation : A Commentary on the Greek Text. Grand Rapids, Mich.; Carlisle, Cumbria : W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1999, S. 1132