Contextual Interpretation & Fulfillment
Terry Siverd is a long time advocate of Covenant Eschatology and a good friend. Terry served as Associate Minister of the Parkman Road Church of Christ for decades and continues as Minister of the Cortland Church of Christ in Ohio. He is an excellent student and speaker, and we hope one day to have him on the dais at the Preterist Pilgrim Weekend. He wrote the following article in response to Wayne Jackson, and out-spoken critic of Covenant Eschatology. Jackson made some astoundingly bad claims about those who believe that the Lord kept his word when he said and as he said. Siverd’s article responds to that charge in an excellent way. Read the article carefully and you will soon see who it is that is handling the Word of God in the wrong way.
An effort has been made to discredit those who hold to a ‘realized’ view of Biblical eschatology. The editor of a four-page publication that originates out of northern California (Christian Courier 03/91, p 42) makes the following claim, that “…we must sadly note that the concept of contextual interpretation appears to be virtually unknown to the ‘A.D. 70 people.” Actually, this particular issue, though filled with accusations that attempt to prejudice its readers against those who espouse a fulfilled concept of prophecy, is lacking in any real substance. The author of the Courier tells his readers about “motives behind the movement” and a “new hermeneutic” including the “proselytizing method” but fails to provide his readership with a solid refutation of the Biblical significance of the A.D. 70 “end of the age” (Matt. 24:3).
The thing that caught our attention the most about the above quotation concerning “contextual interpretation” was the author’s own failure to practice what he was preaching. While trying to show that there are multiple “comings” of Christ recorded in the New Testament, the editor loses his grip on his own system of interpretation. He writes, “…He [Jesus] came in His kingdom on Pentecost (Matt. 16:28)”. Then just four lines later we are told, “…He will also come in universal judgment at the last day (Matt. 16:27).” This kind of exegesis cannot possibly create credibility among objective students of the Word of God. And it certainly fails to conform with the concept of contextual interpretation.
Matthew 16:27-28 and (Proper) Contextual Interpretation
Can an approach that projects Matthews 16:27 beyond our present time, while simultaneously rooting Matthew 16:28 in the distant past even remotely resemble contextual interpretation? What can possibly justify putting hundreds, even thousands of years between these two verses? Someone might suggest that we look at Mark 8:38 and 9:1. Are they not divided? Admittedly these two verses have been torn asunder by men (chapter and verse divisions in our Bibles are man-made). The context “and” of Mark 9:1 tells us that such a division is both unfortunate and erroneous.
Matthew 16:27 and verse 28 belong together. Jesus was a master teacher. He was not the author of confusion (although some unwittingly make Him so). The thoughts and teaching of Matthew 16:27, 28 were fulfilled concomitantly in the A.D. 70 event. There is no great gulf fixed between them. The coming, the judgment and the kingdom were united in fulfillment (II Tim. 4:1). The Courier editor is correct about one thing: arbitrary exegesis needs to cease and the concept of contextual interpretation needs to prevail.–TERRY B. SIVERD
For more on Matthew 16:27-28, see my book Can You Believe Jesus Said This? This book demonstrates, very powerfully and in my detail than Siverd’s excellent comments, that Jackson’s claims about contextual interpretation are completely misguided!