Responding to the Critics: A Response to William Vincent’s “Until” Article -Response #1
We often undertake the task of Responding to the Critics. That is what we will do in a short series.
Just recently, A Mr. William Vincent, a regular poster on preterist Facebook pages, offered an article supposedly critiquing the partial preterist and full preterist views of eschatology. That article, “The Until Passages” claimed to present some daunting challenges to the full preterist view particularly.
Vincent agrees that time statements of imminence regarding the coming of Christ in the NT are to be taken (somewhat) seriously, admitting that these “time-texts demand a limiting chronological context for their fulfillment.” Unfortunately, Vincent wrongly says that, “It could be said that Preterism is built on these time-texts.” This is wrong, but, I will not discuss it here. What is interesting is that while Vincent agrees that time-texts must be honored, some former preterists have now gone so far from the truth that they tell us that time statements of imminence mean virtually nothing at all.
In his article, Vincent tells us that one of the mistakes of preterism is the belief that “the coming” is “a singular and instantaneous event. I would contend that what ‘came’ in the first century was something that grew, and grows ‘until.’” This seems to suggest that the parousia arrived in the first century, extends to the end of time, when the climactic and consummative Day arrives. In other words, Vincent does believe that there will ultimately be a “singular and instantaneous event.”
I will not spend a lot of time responding to this, but simply point out that Christ’s parousia, in judgment and the kingdom, would be in the first century. Jesus himself posited that within one of those “until” texts, that Mr. Vincent suggests are important. What is interesting – and significant – is that he only brushes past the words of Jesus: “There are some standing here that shall not taste of death until the see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” Mark’s version says that those same people would see that the kingdom had come with power (Mark 9:1). Likewise, in Matthew 24:30, they would see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven “with power and great glory” in the destruction of Jerusalem. So, remember, the time -texts that Mr. Vincent agrees must be taken seriously tell us that Christ’s coming in judgment and the kingdom, in power and glory, was to be in the lifetime of the first generation. Some would not die “until” they saw that it had come with power and glory (Mark 9:1).
The fact is that Matthew 16:27-28 and parallels speak of the singular coming of Christ, in judgment, in judgment of “every man,” and in the kingdom. And some standing there would not die “until” they witnessed that event. How then does Vincent extrapolate that coming of Christ, in judgment of all men, in the kingdom, to some yet future event, at the supposed (but non-existent) end of time?
As noted, for Vincent’s proposal to work, he must extrapolate and extend the coming of Christ in judgment and reward throughout the span of the Christian age. This is problematic. Vincent believes that the Millennium began in AD 70, at the time of Christ’s parousia in judgment of Old Covenant Israel. That was the establishment of the kingdom that will continue to grow “until” the so-called “end of time.” (Vincent, as far as I can tell, simply assumes the doctrine of an end of time to be true, but offers no proof of that in his article).
The coming of Christ in the judgment is an end of the Millennium event and it was coming soon, according to Jesus himself (Revelation 22:12). Upon what basis does Vincent simply rip Jesus’ coming in judgment from the end of the Millennium and posit it at the beginning? (Be watching for an upcoming article on the end of the Millennium. It should be finished in the near future). Jesus’ judgment coming did not initiate the Millennium. This alone is destructive to Vincent’s claims. See Joseph Vincent’s book, The Millennium: Past, Present or Future?, for an excellent demonstration that the end of the Millennium was in the first century.
With these preliminary thoughts in mind – and much more could be said – I want to the task of Responding to the Critics, as I turn now to the first “until” text offered by Vincent as supposedly problematic for preterists, and that is Acts 3:19-24:
“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’ Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days.”
An exhaustive commentary on the text is not possible, but, I must note some important issues here.
1. Peter calls on his audience to repent so that “times of refreshing” may come. This important term essentially means “respite from judgment.” So, Peter was calling on his audience to repent so that judgment would not come on them. Needless to say, they did not repent, and judgment came. It is not coming, it came.
2. While it is beyond the scope of this article, let me simply say that Peter’s exhortation to “repent and be converted” is an echo of Malachi 3:7– “Return to me and I will return to you.” The word “return” is epistrepho, and it is the word that Peter used in Acts 3, when he urged his audience to “be converted.”
What is so significant is that the paranesis in Malachi would be the message of Elijah– John the Baptizer. In Acts 3, Peter is echoing the message of John, as Elijah. This puts Peter’s entire eschatological message in the context of the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord, of which John, as Elijah was the herald and the sign. And John was emphatic that the Day of Judgment was near (Matthew 3:2-7). See my book, Elijah Has Come: A Solution to Romans 11:26-27 for a fuller discussion of the connection of Acts 3 to the mission and message of John as Elijah.
3. Peter is very clear that the anticipated restoration would be in fulfillment of God’s OT promises made to Israel. This means, without any doubt that those promises, those covenant promises, would, or will, remain valid until they are fulfilled. Since Jesus said not one jot or one tittle of the Old Covenant / Old Law could pass until it was all fulfilled (Matthew 5:17-18), then of necessity, until all of those promises, from Moses, Samuel and all who have ever written were, or are, fulfilled, then the entirety of Torah remains valid, binding, imposed. Mr. Vincent’s view binds the entirety of Torah!
4. Peter says that Christ would remain in heaven “until the restoration of all things.” Vincent rightly notes that this means that Christ would remain in heaven until the restoration was completed. What is important to realize is that John the Baptizer – as Elijah – initiated that restoration.
In Matthew 17:10f, Jesus stated emphatically that John was Elijah, who was “to restore all things.” It is significant that Jesus used a form of apokatastasis, which is the word translated as restoration in Acts 3. So, the restoration of all things had begun with John. What was the nature of that restoration?
Malachi tells us that the mission of Elijah would be to turn the hearts of the children to the parents and the parents to the children. That is patently not a mission of restoring physical creation. In addition, in Isaiah 40 we find that the mission of The Voice in the Wilderness, would be to make every valley full, make every mountain low, and to build a hiway for the coming of the Lord.
Did John do physical restoration, literal road building, literal “landscaping?” Of course not. This raises the legitimate question therefore as to the nature of the restoration in Acts 3. Did Peter anticipate a totally different kind of restoration from that initiated by John? If so, where is the evidence? And, in this light, consider Acts 1:6, where the disciples asked Jesus, just before his ascension: “Will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” Once again, a form of apokatastasis is employed. Were the disciples concerned with a different restoration from that of John / Elijah? Was the restoration they anticipated – which of course was foretold by the prophets– a totally different kind of restoration from that in Acts 3?
What was the nature of the restoration of Israel? From the book of Acts, (not to mention the Gospel of Luke) we learn that it was clearly not the nationalistic restoration of physical Israel, the restoration to the physical land, with a physical temple! Jesus was on the throne of David– in heaven. Jesus was the “chief corner stone” of the Messianic Temple, meaning the Temple was not a literal, physical temple.
So, if John was to restore all things, and his restoration had nothing to do with physical creation, and if the restoration of Israel had nothing to do with the nationalistic, restoration of the physical nation and kingdom of Israel, (or rocks and trees or birds and bees) upon what hermeneutical principle can it be argued that “the restoration of all things’ anticipated by Peter demands the restoration of physical creation? After all, he was, per Vincent, looking for the completion of what had begun. But, what had begun had nothing to do with the restoration of material creation.
In light of all of this, please consider the following. When William Vincent posted his article, I posted the following information in brief form. Let me now offer my thoughts on the restoration of all things in Acts 3 in a bit fuller form.
Vincent believes that the restoration of all things would be consummated at the parousia – I agree.
The word restoration is from the Greek word apokatastasis. John the Baptizer initiated that restoration (Matthew 17).
It is important to note that apokatastasis is a synonym for diorthosis the word translated as reformation in Hebrews 9:10. There, we are told that there would be no forgiveness or salvation, and Torah would remain “imposed” (epikeimai) until such time as forgiveness, access to the MHP, and salvation would come. That would be at the coming of Christ for salvation, when man could enter the MHP.
What we have in Acts is that the restoration would be at the apokatastasis, and in Hebrews 9 we have the second appearing of Christ at the time of the reformation.
Both apokatastasis and diorthosis mean to set things right. Both are used interchangeably in medical texts outside of scripture to speak of setting a broken bone. Most importantly, both are used in the Tanakh to speak of the Messianic Kingdom, the restoration of Israel under her King. As a matter of fact:
The Lexicons agree that apokatastasis and diorthosis are synonyms.
The critical commentaries agree that apokatastasis and diorthosis are synonyms.
In the prophetic scriptures apokatastasis and diorthosis are synonyms.
This last point is critical. Mr Vincent attempted to deflect the power of this point by saying that while these two words may be synonyms in some texts that does not mean that they are being used the same way in Acts and Hebrews. The reality is that in the Tanakh, the restoration would be in the Messianic Kingdom at the coming of the Lord (Malachi 4:5-6). Likewise, the reformation would be in the Messianic Kingdom at the coming of the Lord (Isaiah 62:5-12). So, when Acts 3 posits the restoration at the coming of the Lord in fulfillment of Israel’s promises, and when Hebrews places the reformation in fulfillment of the types and shadows of Israel’s cultus, this serves as prima facie proof that the words are being used synonymously, thus falsifying Vincent’s objection. See my article, “Imposed Until the Time of Reformation” for fuller documentation of these three points.
The diorthosis is the “time of reformation” of Hebrews 9:10.
The time of reformation is the time of forgiveness, when man could enter the MHP – the time of salvation – which is nothing other than the time of the second appearing of Christ.
Torah would remain valid and binding (imposed – epikeimai) until the reformation– which is the apokatastasis.
But, the reformation would be at Christ’s second appearing for salvation, just as the restoration (apokatastasis) would be at Christ’s coming.
Thus, the second appearing of Christ would be at the end of Torah -Torah would remain “imposed” until that reformation / restoration, the time of salvation.
So, we find in Acts 3 a key “until” text that, when conflated with Hebrews 9 -another “until” text, along with the prophetic texts of the “restoration / reformation” demands that the parousia for that climatic restoration was to be at the end of the Old Covenant Law of Moses.
The Old Law would be imposed “until the time of reformation” the time of Christ’s coming.
Christ would remain in heaven “until” the restoration of all things.
But, the time of reformation is (was) at the end of the Old Covenant Law of Moses.
Therefore, the coming of Christ is (was) at the end of the Old Covenant Law of Moses.
If you say that Christ has not yet come for the consummation of the restoration of all things, you thereby extend the “imposition” and validity of the Law of Moses.
In my next installment, I will examine the key “until” text offered by Mr. Vincent, Psalms 110; “sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.” For all practical purposes sake, other than Acts 3, this is where he “hangs his hat” for a future coming of Christ.
Now, since Mr. Vincent correlates Acts 3 with Psalms 110, then since I have demonstrated that Acts 3 anticipated the coming of Christ at the end of the Old Covenant age of Israel, I have effectively proven that Psalms 110 was fulfilled at that time as well. But, I will offer even more proof of this in the next installment. I will continue Responding to the Critics in that installment, so stay tuned.