The Time for The Judgment Has (Had!) Arrived!
The Divinely Appointed Time for the Judgment
In about 64 A. D. Peter said, “The time has come for the judgment to begin at the house of God, and if it first begin at us what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel” (1 Peter 4:17). This verse challenges all modern doctrines of a future judgment. In fact, it falsifies them.
Peter said “the time has come.” The word translated as “time” is from kairos and means a divinely appointed or designated time. It is specific time as opposed to generic time. Earlier in that same generation the apostle Paul had said, “God has appointed a day in which he will (literally, is about to) judge the world” (Acts 17:30-31). Here is the appointed time Peter had in mind. And it will be noticed that Peter used the definite article. It is “the time”, not generic or unexpected time. It is the very time foretold.
The apostle said the time had come for “the judgment.” Unfortunately, some translations do not take note that the definite article appears before judgment. Peter was not saying a time had come for “a judgment.” It was the appointed time of “the judgment. What judgment did he have in mind?
Judgment Equals Divinely Appointed Time of The Resurrection
Linguistically, there is a powerful point to be made from 1 Peter 4.17. When Peter refers to “the judgment” he uses what is known as the anaphoric article. The anaphoric article is by far, the most common use of the article in the Greek. Simply stated, when a writer or speaker had introduced a subject, and then later used an article, then the article refers directly back to the previously introduced subject. In this case, “the judgment” of v. 17 therefore refers directly back to v. 5 where the apostle said Jesus was “ready to judge the living and the dead.” So, what the anaphoric article demands is that v. 17 is Peter’s inspired declaration that the divinely appointed time for the judgment of v. 5– which is nothing less than the resurrection!– had arrived! See my written debate with amillennialist Jerry McDonald, in which I made this point. It is stunning to read McDonald’s desperation as he sought– unsuccessfully– to negate the force of the anaphoric article.
In 1 Peter 1 he was eagerly anticipating the arrival of the salvation foretold by the Old Testament prophets. Those prophets had been told they were not predicting events for their day (1 Pet. 1:10-12). Peter said those OT prophets foretold “these days” (Acts 3:23-24). Peter said that anticipated salvation, that would come at the revelation of Jesus, was, when he wrote 2000 years ago, “ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet. 1:5-7). And he emphatically said he was living in the last days (Acts 2:15f; 1 Pet. 1:18-20). In 1 Peter 4:5 the writer said that Jesus was, “ready to judge the living and the dead.” In verse 7 he said “the end of all things is at hand.”
The Divinely Appointed Time of Judgment Has (Had!!) Come!
Isn’t “the end of all things” the time of the appointed judgment of the living and the dead, i.e. the resurrection? If not, then what is? Take note of the fact that Peter said the end of all things “has drawn near” (from eggeken, the perfect tense of engus). What had once not been near had, when Peter wrote, now drawn near. This indisputable linguistic fact is fatal to those who want to claim that “at hand” and “quickly” do not indicate imminence in the NT. There is no way to linguistically argue that “has drawn near” does not demand genuine, objective nearness. See my Can God Tell Time for an in-depth discussion of how God communicated in time words.
Peter was not predicting the end of time or material creation. See my book The Elements Shall Melt With Fervent Heat, for proof of this. He was predicting the coming of Jesus at the end of the Old Covenant Age in the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Jesus said he was coming in that generation (Matthew 24:29-34) and redemption would be brought at that time (Luke 21:20-28). Peter was writing later in that very generation and said Christ’s coming for redemption was at hand; the time had come!
Upon what basis do we today say the judgment has not occurred? Peter said the time for the judgment had arrived 2000 years ago! Was Peter wrong? Was he mistaken? Peter did not say, “I hope the time for the judgment has come.” He said it had arrived! If he was wrong he was not inspired! If you say that the time for the judgment had not come you are saying Peter was wrong.
Traditional concepts are difficult to change. But if we are going to be serious students of the Word we must accept its inspired decrees. If we are going to reverence God’s authority we must accept its decrees instead of our preconceived ideas. The question is: Was Peter right or wrong?