Have the Revelatory Gifts Ceased to Function?
A Response and Refutation of Joel McDurmon on 1 Corinthians 13- #5
This is the fifth installment a series examining an article by Joel McDurmon, Head of Research at American Vision in Powder Springs, Ga., in which he addressed the question of the charismatic, revelatory gifts, and particularly 1 Corinthians 13. Be sure to read the previous installments: #1 #2 #3 #4
In a stark departure from the consensus view on 1 Corinthians 13 McDurmon denies that Paul discusses the objective end of the charismatic gifts. McDurmon denies that the text has any eschatological content: “I think that the whole endeavor to see 1 Corinthians 13:9ff as an indicator of any major eschatological, doctrinal, covenantal, or revelatory shift is to miss the point of the passage entirely.”
Daniel 9 and the Cessation of the Revelatory Gifts
In our previous article on Daniel 9 we demonstrated from Daniel 9 that YHVH foretold the time when all prophecy– and the prophetic office– would be consummated, the prophetic office would cease to function. This would be accomplished by the end of the seventy weeks. Here are four points that we established from Daniel 9:
☛ Daniel was given a prophecy that dealt with the climax of OT Israel’s covenant age– not the end of time, or the end of the Christian age: “Seventy weeks are determined on your people and on your city.”
☛ Daniel’s prophecy was concerned with the corporate body of Israel “your people and your city.”
☛ Daniel’s prophecy deals with the objective cessation of the prophetic office: “Seventy weeks are determined…to seal vision and prophecy.”
☛ Daniel’s prophecy gives a definite, objective temporal point for the terminus of the gifts– the end of the seventy weeks.
Make no mistake. If these points are valid and true– and they are– then McDurmon’s position on the charismata and 1 Corinthians 13 is completely falsified. His emphasis on the individual focus of the gifts in Corinthians is falsified by the corporate emphasis in Daniel. His denial of an objective temporal terminus for the gifts is wrong, because all vision and prophecy would be fulfilled and the prophetic gift (the “prophecy” of Corinthians 13) would cease. His denial that 1 Corinthians 13 speaks of “any major eschatological, doctrinal, covenantal, or revelatory shift” is wrong, because if Daniel speaks of the same time and events as 1 Corinthians 13– the cessation of the prophetic office– then since Daniel 9 foretold the time of the resurrection, this clearly is referent to a “major eschatological, doctrinal, covenantal, or revelatory shift!!” Be sure to read my book Seventy Weeks Are Determined… For the Resurrection, for definitive proof that Daniel 9 did predict the resurrection. This is often overlooked by the commentators, but, is essentially undeniable when examined closely.
With all of this in mind, let me make the point then. Daniel 9:24 predicted that “vision and prophecy” would be finally fulfilled, and the prophetic office would be terminated by the end of the seventy weeks. Naturally, the question then becomes, when did– or when will– the end of the seventy weeks take place?
In conservative Christianity, there are several suggestions as to when the seventy weeks ended, or will end. I will not take the time to document this from a vast array of sources. You can see my book Seal Up Vision and Prophecy for that. For brevity, however, here are the most popular suggestions:
1.) Dispensationalists posit the end of the seventieth week at the end of the seven year tribulation period, following the rapture. Of course, this view is totally dependent on the postponement doctrine. According to Thomas Ice, “The Kingdom is contingent on Israel’s acceptance of its King. Because even after his resurrection, that nation refused Him, it became impossible to establish the kingdom (Acts 3:18-26).” (Thomas Ice, End Times Controversy, (Eugene, Or. Harvest House, 2003)85).
2.) Many Amillennialists and Postmillennialists claim that the seventy weeks ended in approximately 35 AD. Gary DeMar posits the end of the seventieth week 3.5 years after the cross (Last Days Madness, (Powder Springs, GA. American Vision, 1994)232). Mathison claims: “It is through the death and resurrection of Christ that all six goals are accomplished.” (Keith Mathison, Age to Age, The Unfolding of Biblical Eschatology, Phillipsburg, NJ, 2009)274). This would appear to conflict with DeMar.
Gentry seems to agree with DeMar and even Mathison: “Although the prophecy clearly specifies the terminus of the sixty-ninth week, such is not the case with the terminus of the seventieth. The exact event that ends the seventieth week is not so significant for us to know. Apparently, at the stoning of Steven, Christianity’s first martyr, the covenantal proclamation begins turning toward the Gentiles (Acts 8:1).” (Kenneth Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, Draper, VA., Apologetics Group 2009)318). He says: “The general view of Daniel 9:24 among non-dispensational evangelicals is that the ‘six items presented… settle the terminus ad quem of the prophecy,’ that is, they have to do with the First advent.” (Dominion, 1992 version, 314).
What neither Mathison or Gentry inform the reader is that the Gentile mission did not take place in “the First Advent” and cannot, chronologically, be tied to Jesus’ incarnation. Those six items were viewed by the NT writers as being initiated by Jesus’ death, but, they were clearly looking for the consummation of those things at Jesus’ parousia (Galatians 5:5; Hebrews 9:24-28; 1 Peter 1:5-12; 2 Peter 3:13f, etc). If (since) the NT writers were still looking for the blessings of Daniel 9 to fully arrive at the parousia, it is prima facie falsification of the claim that the six items of Daniel 9 were fulfilled in Jesus’ first advent.
3.) The third proposal for the terminus of the seventy weeks is well attested in both ancient and modern commentaries, it is that the seventy weeks ended in the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.
Froom, cites Clement of Alexandria, to the effect that the 70 Weeks consummated in AD 70. He also applied the 1260, 1290, 1335 days of Daniel 12 to that event as well. (Leroy Edwin Froom, Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, Vol. 1, Washington, DC, Review and Herald1950)264f).
Eusebius believed that the seventy weeks ended in AD 70: “It is quite clear that the seven times seventy weeks…was therefore the period determined for Daniel’s people, which limited the total length of the Jewish nation’s existence.” (Eusebius, The Proof of the Gospel, BK. VIII Grand Rapids, Baker, 1981)118; 383). He added:, commenting on “seal up vision and prophecy” that since the coming of Christ all prophecy and prophet perished in Israel. “from that day there has been no prophet or seer among them; this has altogether ceased from the time named till our own day.” (Proof, BK VIII. 122).
Jerome said the Jews believed that “seal up vision and prophecy” meant, “And so shall the vision and the prophecy be sealed, with the result that there shall be no more any prophet to be found in Israel, and the Saint of saints shall be anointed.” (Jerome’s Commentary, Daniel, (Grand Rapids, Baker, 1958)108).
Lloyd Gaston says the ancient Jews calculated that the 70 weeks of Daniel 9 ended at the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 (No Stone On Another, Studies in the Significance of the Fall of Jerusalem in the Synoptic Gospels, (Leiden, E. J. Brill, 1970)462f). He also shows how some Jewish rabbis said, “All dates for the end have expired, and the matter now depends solely on repentance and good works.” (P. 464). This is a rather stunning fact, and one that is not given enough attention. The fact that the Rabbis realized that the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 was– or should have been- the terminus of their prophetic hope, has incredible eschatological implications.
Gentry claims that the fate of the City and the People, foretold in Daniel 9, actually lies outside the seventy week countdown. He says, that the destruction of Jerusalem was the result of Christ’s death, and lies outside of the seventieth week. “The events involving the destruction of the city and the sanctuary with war and desolation (v. 26, 27b) are the consequence of the cutting off of the Messiah and do not necessarily occur in the seventy week time frame. They are an addendum to the fulfillment of the focus of the prophecy, which is stated in verse 24. The destructive acts are anticipated, however, in the divine act of sealing or reserving the sin of Israel for punishment. Israel’s climactic sin– their completing of their transgression (v. 24) with the cutting off of Messiah (v. 26a)– results in God’s act of reserving Israel’s sin until later. Israel’s judgment will not be postponed forever; it will come after the expiration of the seventy weeks.” (Dominion, 1992, 317, 320).
This view is simply untenable. It flies in the face of what Daniel 9 actually says. What Gentry, DeMar and others are saying is that the fate of the city was determined within the prophetic countdown. In other words, they claim that when Jesus predicted the fall of Jerusalem in Matthew 24, that this was the determining of the fate of the city and people. However, the carrying out of the sentence that was determined within the countdown did not occur within the seventy weeks. This changes Daniel’s prophecy to say: “Seventy weeks are determined to determine the fate of your people and your city.” In truth, the fate of the city was determined in Daniel 9– not in Matthew 24! The fate of the city and people did not have to wait 500 years to be “determined.”
We will not develop that further here, but, for a full refutation of the idea that the seventy weeks ended in approximately 35 AD, but that the actual fate of the city and the people did not take place until almost forty years after the seventy weeks, see my Seal Up Vision book.
One thing is certain from the text of Daniel 9. The prophecy entails the fate of “your people and your city.” It seems rather disingenuous then, to say the least, to claim that in fact, the actual fate of the city and the people was not, after all, included in that prophetic seventy week countdown. If the fate of the city and people was to actually take place outside that prophetic calendar, why did the angel express it like he did: “Seventy weeks are determine on your city and on your people.”
Notice the emphasis on the fate of the city and the people in v. 26-27, and the terminology that is used, keeping in mind that the angel is telling Daniel of the fate of the people and the city for which the seventy weeks have been determined.
The angel said that after the 69th week, Messiah would be cut off. Now, Gentry, DeMar, Mathison, et. al. insist that Jesus’ death occurred in the seventieth week, and this is clearly right. After all “seventy weeks are determined to make the atonement…to put away sin.” So, the death of Messiah, for the making of the atonement and to put away sin, undeniably belongs within the seventy weeks. But notice, that the text then says “and the people of the prince who is to come, will destroy the city and the sanctuary.” Upon what textual basis does one claim that the making of the atonement belongs in the countdown, but that the fate of the city itself does not? Where is the delineation? The text says “seventy weeks are determined on your people and the city,” just the same as it says, “seventy weeks are determined for the making of the atonement.”
Notice also that v. 27 speaks of the full end. What end is in mind? Well, obviously, the full end of the city– and the people– which we were informed belonged to the seventy weeks! So, any natural and contextual reading of the text would seem to demand that in the mind of the revealing angel– and thus, of YHVH– the fate of the city, the full end, was the full end of the seventy week countdown.
So, let me reiterate my points from above:
☛ Daniel was given a prophecy that dealt with the climax of OT Israel’s covenant age– not the end of time, or the end of the Christian age: “Seventy weeks are determined on your people and on your city.” Unless one can demonstrate– and is will to do so– that the end of the seventy weeks is inseparably tied to the end of human history and the end of the Christian age, then we must honor the fact that Daniel 9 is about the climax of Israel’s covenant history.
☛ Daniel’s prophecy was concerned with the corporate body of Israel “your people and your city.” Daniel is in no way focused on the faith of individuals and their personal spiritual journey to maturation.
☛ Daniel’s prophecy deals with the objective cessation of the prophetic office: “Seventy weeks are determined…to seal vision and prophecy.” As I show in my book Seal Up Vision and Prophecy there is a strong scholarly consensus that this phrase refers to the comprehensive fulfillment and cessation of all prophecy.
☛ Daniel’s prophecy gives a definite, objective temporal point for the terminus of the gifts– the end of the seventy weeks.
If these factors are valid and true, and I have yet to read any kind of valid objections to these points, then Daniel 9 stands as an irrefutable falsification of Joel McDurmon’s claim that 1 Corinthians 13 does not discuss “any major eschatological, doctrinal, covenantal, or revelatory shift”, and his claim that Paul was not discussing the objective cessation of the charismata at a given, objective point of time.
To sustain his view, McDurmon would have to one of the following:
1.) Demonstrate that “seal vision and prophecy” is not a prediction of the comprehensive termination of the prophetic, revelatory office, through the final fulfillment of all prophecy.
2.) He would have to prove that the fall of Jerusalem was not an integral part of the seventy week countdown. The trouble with this would be that if seal vision and prophecy does in fact have to do with the termination of the revelatory gifts, through final fulfillment of all prophecy, then that would demand that the seventy weeks were fulfilled well before the fulfillment of all prophecy! That is a violation of the language and text.
3.) He would have to show that although Paul’s gospel was God’s revelation of the promises made to Israel in “Moses and the prophets” that there is no connection between Daniel 9 and 1 Corinthians 13.
4.) He would have to show, therefore, that the cessation of the prophetic office in Daniel is totally unrelated to the time when “where there be prophecies, they shall fail.”
5.) He would have to show that Daniel’s emphasis on the corporate nature of the prophecy was being radically altered and replaced by the emphasis on the individual. But, this would in fact demand that Daniel’s prophecy would not actually be fulfilled, for it is clear that his prophecy is about the corporate body of Israel, and it does give an objective temporal terminus for the cessation of the charismatic gifts– the end of the seventy weeks.
McDurmon cannot prove any of these things. His interpretation of 1 Corinthians 13 therefore violates and stands in stark contrast and contradiction to Daniel. The Babylonian prophet foretold the termination of the revelatory gifts by the end of the seventy weeks. He knew nothing of the individual focus on the charismata, with the termination of the gifts as each believer reached the point of spiritual maturity. That concept is totally foreign to Daniel– and 1 Corinthians 13.
I well understand that what I have said here will raise the issue of a “gap” between Jesus’ death and the destruction of Jerusalem described in Daniel 9:26-27. This has perplexed commentators for centuries, and it is not a simple issue. However, what is missing in the discussions is the issue of how Israel’s festal calendar serves as the defining and definitive explanation of this issue. Suffice it to say here that there is no unseen, unpredicted, unknown interregnum. There was only the foreordained and foreshadowed “time of waiting for the judgment” between the first four feast days– fulfilled in Christ’s Passion through Pentecost– and the fulfillment of the last three (eschatological) feast days. See my presentation on this at the 2013 Preterist Pilgrim Weekend.
More to come.