Debate on the Millennium – Jonathan Campanik’s Fourth Affirmative Presentation
Everything Mr. Preston set out to do to prove his eschatology went horribly wrong for him in his latest installment. He continues to charge that I have left the substance of his rebuttals unaddressed while proceeding to rebut a position I do not hold.
The echo chamber keeps on repeating my position requires Torah remain in effect today. This assumes the full preterist view that all biblical prophecy inherently means all prophecy related to the Torah and Old Covenant. But I dispute this. I do not agree that “all biblical prophecy” relates to the Old Covenant, the Torah, the Levitical priesthood, temple sacrifices, new moons, sabbaths, and other ceremonial aspects of the Old Covenant age.
Mr. Preston marshals several texts referring to the last days of the Old Covenant and immediately proclaims he has won the debate. But they only prove that all prophecy related to the Old Covenant and the Torah were fulfilled. It does not follow that the existence of unfulfilled prophecy must involve a contradiction or that it must relate back to the Torah. That would depend entirely on the nature of the prophecy.
The whole scope of Mr. Preston’s hermeneutical strategy against me has relied from the outset on question begging, i.e., assuming his conclusions and working back from them to justify his arguments.
The following constitutes a rather exhaustive treatment of my paradigm, which I call Orthodox Preterism. These arguments thoroughly address the bulk of Preston’s objects. The very end of this document will take up miscellaneous arguments he makes in his latest rebuttal which are not treated of in the main body of the text.
This installment also touches briefly on the problem of partial preterism and “premillennial preterism” (as advocated by Dr. Duncan McKenzie).
II. Paradise and Transition
Full preterists make the unfortunate mistake of confusing the transition period (30 AD-70 AD) with the millennium of Revelation 20.
What we are defining as the “transition period” (of course) is that brief time (roughly a “generation”) during which the Old Covenant gradually became obsolete (Heb.8:13) just as the fullness of the establishment of the New Covenant was coming to fruition. The “transition period” is unique and unrepeatable to the extent that, neither before nor since have the two covenants “overlapped”.
Christ promised the Thief on the Cross (ca. 30 AD) that he would be with Him in Paradise (Luke 23:43) in Abraham’s Bosom (where the righteous in Hades were gathered). After Christ’s descent into Hades for three days, wherein He “preached to the spirits in prison” (I Pet. 3:19), He ascended again, taking “captivity captive” (Eph. 4:8). At this time, Paradise (Abraham’s Bosom) was relocated to heaven.
Later, St. Paul was “caught up” to “paradise”–the “third heaven” (2 Cor. 12:2-4)–which was “under the [heavenly] altar” (Rev. 6:9) where many first century-martyrs “should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed” in AD 70 (6:11). Christ “ascended far above all heavens” (including the “third heaven”) at His Ascension (Eph. 4:10).
The revelation of the martyrs “under the altar” was a revelation of the apocalyptic fifth seal. These martyrs had been “slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held” (Rev. 6:9). The remainder of their brethren, “who would be killed as they were” (6:11) during the three and half year (“forty-two months”) tribulation from 66-70 AD (Rev. 11:2, 13:5-8) are given special attention in Rev.20:1-6 at the “first resurrection”:
4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus,and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast,neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
As the reader can see, those who did not worship the beast or receive his mark (i.e., those who came through the great tribulation of Revelation 19)–whereupon the beast and false prophet were cast into the lake of fire in AD 70 (19:19-20)–“completed” the “number” of those paradisal, first-c. martyrs we are first introduced to “under the altar” at the breaking of the “fifth seal” (Rev. 6:9).
The martyrs in Rev. 6 and those who came through the battle in Rev. 19:11-20:4 are inseparably bound together as one. They all would rise up at the first resurrection in Revelation to rule “for a thousand years” (20:4).They are the martyrs of the transition period–the “144,000” (7:4-10,13-17; 14:1).
There is, though, a very clear distinction drawn between the “fifth seal” martyrs in Rev. 6 and those who came through the war–i.e., those who “completed” the “number” (6:11) of the fifth seal martyrs:
The fifth seal martyrs “under the altar”–the “golden altar” that is “before the throne” (cf. 8:3)–were killed prior to the cosmic disturbances of seal six (6:12-17); prior to the seven trumpets (8:6-11:19); prior to the “war” instigated by the “beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit” (11:7, cf. also 17:8); prior to the individual beast’s blasphemies and desecrations against “His [God’s] tabernacle” and “war with the saints” (Rev. 13:5-8)– which is concurrent with the harvest of wrath (14:14-20), the bowls and plagues (ch. 16), the judgment of Harlot Babylon (Jerusalem) in ch. 18, and the Wedding Supper of the Lamb (19:11-21). At this time, the beast (fallen angel from the abyss – cf. 11:7,17:8) and false prophet (Land Beast/Harlot/Babylon) are “cast into the lake of fire (19:20) in 70 AD.
In short, the “fifth seal” martyrs from Rev. 6 are those who were killed prior to the tribulation and three and a half year war with the beast and false prophet (11:2, 13:5). Those martyrs receiving special (exclusive) attention and focus in 13:5-8 and 20:1-6 are those who came through the war (tribulation)–those who “…had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark…”.
This distinction is intended to show us that the millennium began when the second group (who were martyred during the war waged by the beast) sealed the fullness of the martyrs, the “144,000” (7:4).
13 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?”
14 And I said to him, “Sir, you know.”
So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15 Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them.
Notice the clear parallel to Rev. 20:4-6:
4 And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.
While “under the altar”, the “fifth seal” martyrs “rested” “a little while longer” until the rest of their brethren had joined them (6:11). In 7:15, both groups (the “144,000”) are “before the throne of God”, serving Him “day and night in His temple”.
A comparison of Rev. 7:13-15 and 20:4-6 proves that service to God before His throne in His temple (ch.7) are bound up with (millennial) priestly service and rule (20:6). Note: this rule and priestly service starts when the “144,000” [transition martyrs] (7:4)”come out of the great tribulation” (7:14) “to serve Him day and night in His temple” (7:15)!
And, further, compare 7:17 with 20:4, where living and reigning “with Christ” (20:4) is synonymous with the Lamb’s presence “in the midst of the throne” (7:17) where the martyrs “serve Him day and night in His temple” (7:15).
Cf. also 7:9: After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands,
Even though the “fifth seal” saints were not killed during the “great tribulation” war, the “144,000” “come out of the great tribulation” simultaneously (7:14) in that there is now no longer the cry: “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until you judge and avenge our blood…?” (6:10).
All the martyrs from Rev. 6 and Rev.13:5-8/20:1-6 entered the throne area in God’s temple together in the “first resurrection” as “priests of God and of Christ”, reigning with Him for “a thousand years” (20:6), but as we said before, the martyrs who gave their lives during the war (great tribulation) are singled out in 20:1-6 to indicate the millennium began when the fullness of the martyrs came in (per Rev. 6:11).
Note again that the (post-trib) throne scene in Rev. chapters 7 and 20 are also consistent with the timing of the saints’ possession of the kingdom after the destruction of the little horn and eleventh ruler in Daniel 7 (vv. 7-11, 17-18, 21-27).
If there is any doubt about the timing of the millennium (almost inconceivable), Daniel erases all of it. Daniel 7:9-11:
9 “I watched till thrones were put in place,
And the Ancient of Days was seated;
His garment was white as snow,
And the hair of His head was like pure wool.
His throne was a fiery flame,
Its wheels a burning fire;
10 A fiery stream issued
And came forth from before Him.
A thousand thousands ministered to Him;
Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him.
The court was seated,
And the books were opened.
11 “I watched then because of the sound of the pompous words which the horn was speaking; I watched till the beast was slain, and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame.
A few things here are absolutely crucial to summarize and take note of:
1. The beast is “slain” and “given to the burning flame” in 9:11 (cf. Rev. 19:20).
2. At this time, the Ancient of Days is “seated” on “His throne” while “other thrones were put in place” (9:9)
3. The “thrones” plural and “throne” singular (Dan. 9:9) corresponds with the “thrones” plural of Rev. 20:4 and “throne” singular of Rev. 7:9, 14.
The millennium begins when the “throne” of Christ and “thrones” of the transition martyrs appear; when the martyrs who “come out of the great tribulation” (Rev. 7:14)–the “144,000” (7:4)–begin to “serve Him day and night in His temple” (7:15) as “priests of God and of Christ” (Rev. 20:6); and when the beast is “given to the burning flame” / “cast into the lake of fire” (Dan. 9:11; Rev. 19:20).
III. The Satanic Rebellion Revisited
This was introduced very briefly in my opening remarks (first affirmative), but bears repeating:
The very existence of a (post-millennial) Satanic Rebellion (cf. Rev. 20: 7: “Now when the thousand years have expired…”) prevents the very possibility of there being a first-c. millennial reign.
If the martyrs who came through the three and a half year Roman-Jewish war reigned during the millennium (Rev. 20:4), then full preterists are forced to admit the Satanic Rebellion happened after AD 70–that Satan was released in 70 AD when the millennium allegedly came to an end. But this controverts everything full preterism stands for–viz. that all biblical prophecy was fulfilled by AD 70 (per Dan. 9:24-27; 12: 1-4, 11-13 inter alia)!
It does no good to “compensate” for this by claiming the Satanic Rebellion occurred from 66-70 (during the war), because this flatly contradicts Rev. 20:4! It says those who came through the war–those who did not worship the beast or receive his mark–ruled during the “thousand years”–in fact for all of it (“for a thousand years”)!
Further, if the millennium occurred between the Cross and AD 70–i.e., if Satan were thrown into the abyss during this period–how was Satan prowling about “like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour” (I Pet. 5:8) at that time? How was “the devil”…”about to throw some of you [Smyrnians] in prison” (Rev. 2:10)? How did “the dragon” become “enraged with the woman” and “make war with the rest of her offspring…” (Rev. 12:17) after the birth and ascension of Christ (12:1-6)?
Full preterism is the proverbial square peg that will not fit into the round hole of Holy Scripture.
IV. The Tree of Life, Double Fulfillment, and Immortality
This theme has been glossed over for far too long by full preterists. In order to force Rev. 21-22 into a strictly temporal straight jacket, full preterists cite the two instances in which the tree of life is mentioned (22:2, 14) as pertaining to the “new heaven” and “new earth” (21:1), chalking them both up to “new covenant” realities in this present life. They do this primarily by noting the tree of life in Rev. 22:2 and Ezek.47:12 contains “healing” properties that operate to bring about the conversion of nations. It might be helpful for the reader to compare the two texts:
12 Along the bank of the river, on this side and that, will grow all kinds of trees used for food; their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine.”
2 In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
In both instances, the fruit is for healing. It has medicinal properties. Specifically, it is for the conversion (or salvation) of the unbelieving. Interestingly, though Ezekiel does not mention the “tree of life” (singular), but rather “all kinds of trees” (plural), Rev.22, in noting the singularity of the “tree of life”, also acknowledges it in a plural sense (“each tree”).
We are happy to acknowledge these verses are describing life according to the earthly (millennial/post-millennial) aspect of the new heaven and new earth of 21:1. Here, the tree of life should be understood in a Eucharistic sense. However, Rev. 2:7 holds out the promise of a fuller partaking in the afterlife. John says to the Ephesian church: “To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God”(!).
This is clearly not conversion. In fact it is quite explicitly something that the Christian does after death, in the afterlife, in Paradise!
Those who continue to persevere and overcome are granted to partake of the tree which sat in the very garden Adam was expelled from and even dwelt opposite from for a time (Gen. 3:24)! Remember this is the same tree that would have granted biological immortality to Adam had he eaten from it after the fall. But had God allowed this, then there would have been no chance of salvation for man, for he would have lived forever biologically in a fallen state. This is why God said: ” ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. Now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever–‘ therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of pleasure to cultivate the ground from which he was taken” (Gen. 3:22-23).
The Eastern Orthodox saint, Symeon the New Theologian (+ 949-1022) once noted in a famous homily that, when God confronted Adam with his sin, He gave Adam a real chance to repent and be restored to his former place in Paradise. It was only when Adam blamed his sin on Eve rather than humbling himself that God banished Adam from the garden and the tree–so that he should not live forever in a state of alienation from God, a truly unbearable curse. (Cf.Homily # 66 in ‘The First-Created Man’, tr. by Fr. Seraphim Rose.)
It would seem the partaking in 22:14 is intended in the same sense that is found in 2:7: it is a partaking of the faithful as the reward for a life of obedience:
14 Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.
This is not just true of the tree of life, but also of the healing waters coming from the throne of God. There is an earthly reality (here and now) and a spiritual reality (in the afterlife). The earthly reality is depicted in Ezekiel 47:1, 6-9/Rev. 22:1, but the heavenly reality is shown us in Rev. 7:17; 21:6. Specifically, those who partake of the living waters in 7:17 were the martyrs who “come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (7:14).
The “city” is now (since AD 70) present in both”worlds”, so to speak. The city is occupied by those in heaven, and it is an ever-present (albeit partially veiled) reality for us in the material realm.
The saints were finally admitted to heaven in 70 AD (Heb. 9:6-9):
6 These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, 7 but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. 8 By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing 9 (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper,
This is an ongoing reality for us today (cf. Rev. 14:13). Those of us who “die in the Lord” are “blessed” to bypass Hades, partake eventually of the tree of life “in the midst of the Paradise of God” (Rev. 2:7), and (in some cases) ascend to the higher heaven where the martyrs entered at the first resurrection to serve as “priests of God and of Christ” (Rev. 20:6). I say “in some cases” because only the martyrs are permitted entry to the throne room of God’s tabernacle in heaven for the millennium. It is interesting that only the first-century martyrs are identified as the ones who come through the “first resurrection”. The rest stay in Paradise.
This is another huge strike against full preterism. The evidence does not support that all the righteous would be raised into the tabernacle and throne area of heaven. Only the martyrs are deemed worthy of such an honor. The rest, while also escaping Hades, go to live in the “lowest heaven” (Paradise, Third Heaven). There is a real partaking in Paradise of the tree of life (through which also the martyrs pass before entering the highest heaven), proving that the fullness of the universal resurrection (Dan. 12:2, John 5:28-29, Acts 24:15), while activated in AD 70 when the “last enemy” (death) was utterly despoiled of its power for Christians (I Cor. 15:26), will find its total dissolution only in the eradication of biological death at the end of time, when the Parousia is unveiled to the whole inhabited world (Rev. 20:11).
Most Christians seem to assume there are two black-and-white states in the afterlife: a discarnate (purely soulish) one, followed by a bodily (purely physical, albeit glorified) one. The ancient (and original) Church of Eastern Orthodoxy, continuing to preserve the Dogmatic Tradition of the Holy Spirit via the Holy Scriptures, Apostles, Patristics, and Ecumenical Councils has always recognized there is a soulish, phantasmic, or etheric body in the afterlife per the intermediate state. This is why you can find numerous accounts in the recorded lives of saints of believers being visited by “dead” saints (or loved ones) in bodily form. (I put “dead” in quotes because they are more alive than we are!).
Further, while much of wider Christendom popularly professes the existence of only two basic bodily states of humanity–the physical (as we see today) and the spiritual (per the resurrection)–the Eastern Fathers, in preserving ancient knowledge and tradition regarding the meaning of Holy Scripture via the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 16:12-15, I Tim. 13:15), taught that Adam, being a creature of Paradise, had a more spiritual (albeit still material or natural) body. Being created neither mortal nor immortal (but for immortality), his body was uncorrupted while not yet incorruptible. His immortal state was not fixed, but provisional. Adam was created for obedience, for immortality, for perfection. He was originally innocent, but not yet perfected unto theosis (or glorification)–just as the angels (as evidenced by the fall of some) were not originally perfected upon creation. For there is only one who is perfect in Himself: the Creator of all things.
After the fall, Adam contracted pure physicality (“gross corporeality”), symbolized by the “garments of skins” (Gen.3:21). The Fathers characterized Adam’s paradisal body as “light”,”subtle”, “translucent”, and “passionless”. The post fall body is described as “opaque”, “coarse”,”heavy”, “animal”, and “passionate”.
Many patristic quotations could be garnered along these lines, but I will provide only a brief sampling here:
St. Macarios the Great –
“Before the fall of man, his body was immortal, a stranger to infirmities, a stranger to its present crudeness and heaviness, a stranger to the sinful and fleshly feelings [passions] that are now natural to it” (Homily 4).
“His senses were incomparably more subtle, their activity was incomparably broader and totally free. Being clothed with such a body, with such organs of sense, man was capable of the sensuous perception of spirits, to which rank he himself belonged in soul; he was capable of communion with them, of that divine vision and communion with God which is natural to holy spirits” (Homily 6).
“By the fall both the soul and body of man were changed. In the strict sense the fall was for them also a death. That which we see and call death is in essence only the separation of the soul from the body, both of which had already before this been put to death by an eternal death! The infirmities of our body, its subjection to the hostile influences of various substances from the material world, its crudeness–these are a consequence of the fall. By reason of the fall our body entered into the same rank as the bodies of animals; it exists with an animal life, the life of its fallen nature….In this condition of deadness, by reason of their extreme crudeness and coarseness, the bodily senses are incapable of communion with spirits, they do not see them, do not hear them, do not sense them….All of us who are in slavery to sin must understand that communion with holy angels is unnatural to us by reason of our estrangement from them by the fall; that what is natural to us, for the same reason, is communion with the fallen spirits, to whose rank we belong in soul; that the spirits who appear sensuously to men who are in a state of sinfulness and fall, are demons and not in the least holy angels” (Homily 74).
From the collected works of + Bishop Ignatius (Brianchaninov):
“The divinely-inspired writer of the book of Genesis says that after the fall of the first men, God, in pronouncing sentence on them before banishing from paradise, made for them garments of skin, and clothed them (Gen. 3:20). The garments of skins, in the explanation of the Holy Fathers (St. John Damascene, Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book 3, ch. 1), signify our coarse flesh which, at the fall, was altered: it lost its subtlety and spiritual nature and received its present crudeness….Among the other consequences, profitable for us, which come from the condition in which our body now is, we should indicate this one: through the crudeness of our body we have become incapable of the sensuous perception of the spirits into whose realm we have fallen….The wisdom and goodness of God have placed an obstacle between men, cast down to earth from paradise, and the spirits who had been cast down to earth from heaven; this obstacle is the coarse materiality of the human body.”
“The alteration of the senses by which a man enters into sensuous communion with the beings of the invisible world is called in Sacred Scripture the opening of the senses. The Scripture says: Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, with his drawn sword in his hand (Numbers 22:31). Being surrounded by enemies, the Prophet Elisha, in order to calm his frightened servant, prayed and said: Lord, open his eyes that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha (IV Kings 6:17-18).
“From the quoted places of Sacred Scripture it is clear that the bodily organs serve as it were as doors and gates into the inner chamber where the soul is, and that these gates are opened and closed at the command of God. Most wisely and mercifully, these gates remain constantly closed in fallen men, lest our sworn enemies, the fallen spirits, burst in upon us and bring about our perdition. This measure is all the more essential in that we, after the fall, find ourselves in the realm of fallen spirits, surrounded by them, enslaved by them. Having no possibility to break in on us, they make themselves known to us from outside, causing various sinful thoughts and fantasies, and by them enticing the credulous soul into communion with them. It is not permitted for a man to remove the supervision of God and by his own means (by God’s allowance but not by His will) to open his own senses and enter into visible communion with spirits. But this does happen. It is obvious that by one’s own means one can attain communion with fallen spirits.”
Still, Adam’s body at creation had a material base that was not fully noetic–he was “formed” “…out of dust from the ground…”(Gen. 2:7), God only placing him in paradise afterwards (cf. vs. 8).
Thus, our resurrection body, rather than being fashioned after Adam’s (the “man of dust”), shall be fashioned after Christ’s (the “heavenly Man”):
45 And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven.48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.
That is, the fullness of our bodily resurrected state–a process begun in AD 70 at the beginning of the millennium and first resurrection–will reach full maturity when it attains to the fullness of the state of Christ’s post-Ascension body (second resurrection), His post-Resurrection/pre-Ascension body being comparable to the nature of Adam’s body in paradise before the fall.
One of the few articles I and full preterists can agree on (at least in general terms) is that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom God” (I Cor. 15:50).
V. Daniel 12:1-3, I Pet. 3:19, and the Harrowing of Hell
The resurrection of Dan. 12 is clearly depicted and shown in the context of events that occurred in 70 AD (cf. vv. 1, 11-13; also compare with Matt. 13:36-43; 24:15-21). While the “first resurrection” is identified by John in Rev. 20 as being peculiar to the righteous (specifically the martyrs), it is noteworthy that the wicked are nevertheless present as receiving some new status relative to the final judgment, even though they (“…the rest of the dead…”) “did not live again until the thousand years were finished” (Rev. 20:5a).
The key to unlocking this mystery is I Pet. 3:19. Peter says that Christ”…preached to the spirits in prison…”. Rather than quoting various patristic sources and Orthodox liturgical texts on this, I will merely summarize the view here:
First, the Orthodox Tradition teaches clearly that the harrowing of hell by Christ during His three days in the tomb had cosmic, ontological significance. That is, Christ became present in Hell (in His divinity) from that time forward in a way that He had not prior to His descent there. Secondly, in doing so, salvation in Hades became a possibility for some from that moment forward (i.e., Hades ceased to be a prison or waiting place), not only for those to whom He preached who lived prior to the Incarnation, but for all those who would live and die after His resurrection. This is because (third) Christ destroyed the gates of Hades for everyone–righteous and wicked alike.
The Incarnation, Cross, and descent into hell were cosmic acts, merciful acts of God’s free grace to all mankind, not merely to particular persons. Everything Christ did in the flesh pertained to the human nature as such (i.e., all of mankind). These actions were predetermined by the will of God for man, and man had no say in it. However, due to personal free will, the ontological (objective) reality of Christ’s accomplished work does not necessarily result in the salvation, redemption, and glorification of all people. Men have the freedom to reject that which God (through Christ) has done for him.
While Hades was objectively crushed, defeated, and emptied of all, many were hardened and confirmed in their sin, remaining alienated from God’s Spirit. This hardness resulted in their status being fixed (or sealed) unto judgment (i.e., the “second death”).
Thus, the “second death” (Rev.2:11; 20:6, 14)–the fullness of which will not arrive until the millennium is completed–was definitively set in motion by AD 70 when the wicked who remained insensible to the Divine presence and preaching of Christ in Hades definitively lost any chance they had to leave and go to Paradise.
What we have seen from the foregoing is that it is entry into Paradise or the Holiest of All (first resurrection), not conversion per se, which overturns the first death. This is because salvation is an ongoing work within us, one that is not finished until we die. As concerns the death of the wicked, the “second death” constitutes judgment in an immortal body fit for the wicked, an event sealed by their first death: a process fulfilled after death, just as the first resurrection of the righteous is fulfilled after death.
If the second death had occurred in AD 70 (which is impossible, as it happens a thousand years after the first resurrection according to Rev. 20:5a), there would be no place for the wicked to receive an immortal body fit for eternal punishment. But since it clearly occurs at the end of the (current) millennial period, there is obviously more to the judgment of the wicked than a mere discarnate existence.
Furthermore, it is nonsensical to argue for an AD 70 second death in which the wicked are cast into hell in a discarnate state or some kind of spiritual replacement body, since that is already going on prior to AD 70 per the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (cf. Luke 16:19-31)!
In short, the restoration of the cosmos at the second death and resurrection in the Parousia (Rev. 20:11-15) is the terminus (or completion) in earthly history of that which definitively arrived in 70 AD.
The same Parousia (not two separate ones) is unveiled at the end of two distinct ages, corresponding to the Old Covenant age and New Covenant age respectively. Or to put it another way, the Parousia is both pre-millennial (past) and post-millennial (future). Or, alternatively: the parousia is revealed at the first resurrection (past), and then again at the second resurrection (future).
VI. Ezekiel, Paul, and the Jews (Again)
While Preston might wish to argue the “whole house of Israel” (Ezek.39:25) and “all Israel” (Rom. 11:26) is the fullness of the “remnant” (Rom.11:5) that would be brought to full fruition in AD 70, this still does not address the contradiction involved: that Ezekiel’s regathering (vv.25-29) and Luke’s “time of the Gentiles” (21:24b) happens after the Jews have been put under the sword and led away captive into all nations (Ezek. 39:23;Luke 21:24a).
Preston places the persecution and diaspora of Ezek. 39:23 during the Babylonian captivity, but vv. 27-28 puts the lid on that interpretation:
27 When I have brought them back from the peoples and gathered them out of their enemies’ lands, and I am hallowed in them in the sight of many nations, 28 then they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who sent them into captivity among the nations, but also brought them back to their land, and left none of them captive any longer.
Babylon was a single empire, city, and nation, not a host of “nations”.
Preston also wants to argue Luke 21:24b is Paul’s “fullness of the Gentiles” in Rom.11:25 which (he claims) was fulfilled during the great tribulation according to Rev. 11:2.
Preston is mixing apples and oranges here. Rom. 11:25 says “…blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” This is a text on salvation, not a commentary on the forty-two month treading of the “holy city” (Jerusalem) in AD 70 per Rev. 11:2.
I contend the “fullness of the Gentiles” (Rom. 11:25) and “the times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24b) correspond, neither of them having any connection to Rev. 11:2. Luke 21:24b has the “times of the Gentiles” following the diaspora and persecution of AD 70 (Luke 21:24a).
The only possible way to relate Rom. 11:25-27 to Dan. 9:24 is to argue that the fullness of the salvation of the Gentiles came in by AD 70. Preston may wish to argue Paul is talking about the fullness of the Gentiles who are saved up until the fullness of the restoration of the Jewish remnant are brought in by 70 AD, but this contradicts Luke 21:24 (cf. also Ezekiel 39:28) when its says the Jews would be “led away captive into all nations” in AD 70. This is consistent with their being “sent into captivity among the nations”(Ezek. 39:28). It is not the single nation of Babylon they are driven to.
Also, Preston’s view completely ignores the fact the old “branches” (Rom. 11:17, 19-24) of Israel were still in the process of being “cut off” (Dan. 9:24-27) while the remnant were being brought in (Rom. 11:5). Therefore the future fulfillment of their regrafting and salvation (11:26) is bound up with Paul’s message concerning the possibility of the Jews’ being grafted back into the olive tree from which they were being cut out (11:23-24).
The olive tree analogy does not work if the Jewish people had no chance of repenting after 70 AD. Again, because the cutting off process was not officially completed until AD 70 per Heb. 8:13. The (Old) covenant was only “growing old” and “passing away” at the time of Paul’s writing.
Thus, Rom. 11:27 cannot strictly be paired with Dan. 9:24. To the extent that the “one hope of your calling” (Eph. 4:4) is bound up with the redemptive work of Christ (4:5), it does pertain to the Jews’ future salvation as a people promised by Paul and Ezekiel.
Christ is the one hope of the Jewish remnant who were brought in during the first century, and His first-c. redemptive work became the basis for the future conversion (regrafting) of the Jewish people. There is no basis for establishing an artificial time limit on any of this. The “One Hope” is Christ, and Christ’s reign is eternal.
Preston says we should “see Rev. 7 and 14” as proof that the remnant of physical Israel constituted the “whole house” (12 tribes) who would be redeemed (cf. Rev. 7:5-8). This is ridiculous. The 144,000 in Rev. 7 symbolically constitute the “12 tribes” of the New Israel, inclusive of the Gentiles – a “great multitude…of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues…” (cf. Rev. 7:9)!
This is Spiritual Israel, not the “Jewish remnant”. Preston falls on his own sword.
VII. The Recapitulation Theory of Rev.20:11-15
Dr. Duncan McKenzie (who calls himself a “premillennial preterist”), while agreeing the millennium started in AD 70 (Rev.20:1-10), argues (a la J. Stuart Russell) that Rev. 20:11-15 recapitulates AD 70. In other words, McKenzie does not think Rev. 20:11 is a future theophany, revelation, or unfolding of the Parousia of AD 70. There was only one theophanic unveiling, and it already happened. He believes Satan will be (in our future) “cast into the lake of fire” (20:10), even though “Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:14) in the past (i.e., AD 70).
The problem with this line of thinking is that it completely contradicts St. Paul, who says “the last enemy to be destroyed is death” (I Cor. 15:26), not Satan. It is clear that Satan, along with Death and Hades, must be destroyed forever at the same time. There are two options:
1. Full Preterism: Satan and Death/Hades cast into the lake of fire premillennial reign.
2. Orthodox Preterism (futurism): Hades emptied and destroyed for Christians (I Cor. 15:26) in 70 AD, though biological death continues until after the millennium. Satan and Death/Hades (torments) are cast into the lake of fire post millennial reign.
Trying to distinguish between a “premillennial preterist” position and a “full preterist” position (as McKenzie does) is purely linguistic and semantic for all practical purposes. He does not admit that the wicked still reside in Hades, that the fullness of the immortal body arrives in the future, or that there will be a fuller unveiling of the Parousia of AD 70 post millennial reign of the martyrs.
VIII. Orthodox Preterism vs. Partial Preterism
Partial preterism does three things alien to the Orthodox Preterist position:
1. It divides the parousia into two separate (in kind) comings: a theophanic one in 70 AD, followed by a physical descent after the millennium.
2. It has the individual experiencing two separate resurrections as a result: a spiritual one (of the soul) out of Hades upon death, and a physical one (of the corpse) in the future after the millennium.
3. Like Full Preterism, it traditionally traces the origin of the millennial reign to the resurrection of Christ in 30 AD.
Most futurists (including partial preterists) treat the human person as divided–with his soul as the subject of the first resurrection, and his corpse as the subject of the second. As I have written elsewhere, this is dualistic.
Orthodox Preterism holds to a holistic concept of the resurrection per the human person. Death (the separation of soul and body) is unnatural to humanity, a product of the fall of Adam. When those who took part in the first resurrection finally receive the fullness of their glorified bodies after the millennium, they will finally experience the completion of the resurrection of/from the dead. The soul and body are not identical of course (hence there are two aspects to the individual resurrection: spiritual and bodily), but neither can they be divorced or separated in the resurrection.
John’s numbering in Rev. 20 does not pertain to the individual person, but to two (collective) resurrection events that mark the end of two ages: the Old Covenant age (pre-millennial) and New Covenant age (post-millennial).
Just as those who had died before, during, and after 70 AD bypassed Hades to be with Christ either in Paradise (2 Cor. 12:2-4) or the “Holiest of All” (cf. Heb. 9:8), so also those still alive at the end of the post-millennial age will be translated (like Enoch, Moses, and Elijah) out of this fallen age of death and into the fullness of the heavenly Jerusalem.
The only difference between those who were raised at the first resurrection (and ongoing, cf. Rev. 14:13) and those who will be translated out of this material world into the transfigured (noetic) new creation at the second resurrection is that the latter bypass Hades and receive the fullness of their glorified bodies simultaneously, rather than over a long period of time.
IX. Summary and Conclusion
The following points as fleshed out and elaborated above go to demonstrably proving without a shadow of a doubt that the millennium did not (as alleged by both full and partial preterists) start in AD 30, but rather in AD 70:
1. A 1st-c. Satanic rebellion is impossible without either compromising Rev.20:4’s explicit declaration that the great tribulation martyrs reigned during the millennium (not during the Satanic rebellion), or making the “short time” of Satan’s release a post-70 AD phenomenon–which compromises the full preterist claim all biblical prophecy was fulfilled in AD 70.
2. Rev. 7:4-17 in conjunction with Rev. 13:5-8; 14:14-20; 19:11-20:4; and Daniel 7:9-11 show the throne of the Ancient of Days (Lamb, cf. also Rev.1:12-14) and the thrones of the martyrs are set up in AD 70 (at the first resurrection) when the beast is cast into hell (Dan. 7:11; Rev. 19:20).
3. The “fifth seal” martyrs (Rev. 6) together with the rest of their brethren who would be killed as they were during the war, “come out of the great tribulation” together (Rev. 7:14) as the “144,000” (7:4), where they come “before the throne of God” to “serve Him day and night in His temple” (7:15) as “priests of God and of Christ” (Rev. 20:6).
4. The Biblical distinction between Paradise (2 Cor. 12:2-4) and the Holiest of All (Heb. 9:8) precludes an AD 30 terminus a quo (origin point) for the millennium, since Rev. 2:7 indicates access to the tree of life after death would only be granted sometime after the great tribulation.
5. Far from indicating the “second death” occurred in 70 AD (as full preterists claim), Rev. 20:1-4 only shows that heaven is divided between Paradise and the Holiest of All, the latter being reserved (during the millennium) for the martyrs.
6. That this is the case is further confirmed by the fact Rev. 20:1-4 features the second batch of martyrs coming through the war and persecution under the (individual) beast, implying a 70 AD start to the millennium that would naturally include the martyrs who preceded them (i.e., the “fifth seal” martyrs of Rev. 6). Had John wanted to indicate the millennium began in 30 AD, Rev. 20:1-4 would have depicted the “fifth seal” martyrs followed by a subsequent mention of the martyrs who came through the war.
7. Yet another indication the above contrast implies the millennium began in 70 is that the throne scene is set in direct contrast to the location of the”fifth seal” martyrs “under the altar” (Rev. 6:9). Since those martyrs who were persecuted by the beast during the war are serving in a special priestly capacity as thrones are set up in the temple of God (Dan.7:9-11; Rev.7:15; 20:1-4), reigning with God for “a thousand years” without having to wait “under the altar”, it is obvious the millennium had to have started in 70 AD.
8. The Parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) presupposes that the wicked also have a phantasmic/etheric type body in the interim, and experience torments in that body. If a full preterist type “second death” already occurred in AD 70, the punishment would be redundant, being of the same type the wicked already experience in “torments” (Hades) before the second death. Even the fallen angels have a direct connection to our realm, seeking “dry places” (cf. Luke 11:24); how much greater connection to our planet one must have (after death) who is indigenous to it!
9. The fact the living waters of Rev. 7:17 and 21:6 and tree of life of Rev.2:7 and 22:14 apply to the afterlife for believers, in addition to the era of the New Covenant on Earth as healing properties of the Gospel to non-believers (Rev.22:1-2), illustrates there is a double-fulfillment aspect to the New Jerusalem and new heavens and earth.
10. The previous fact shows it is not viable to consider Rev. 20:11-15 as a recapitulation of AD 70, but rather as a fuller unveiling of the same AD 70 parousia or presence of Christ in His glorified humanity on His heavenly Throne ruling over an eternal Kingdom.
11. In order to maintain Rev. 20:11-15 is a recapitulation of AD 70, one would have to contradict Paul who says “the last enemy to be destroyed is death” (I Cor. 15:26) and substitute the last enemy as Satan (as Dr.McKenzie does). One would also have to reject Rev. 20:5a as not really belonging to the canon of Holy Scripture–as Dr. McKenzie also does in his commentary on the Apocalypse! (Mr. McKenzie does not allow that the second death happens a full “thousand years” after the first resurrection.)
12. Both full and partial preterists make the same fatal error of seeing the start to the millennium as the Cross/Resurrection (30 AD). This prevents full preterists from acknowledging the fact the first resurrection occurred in 70 AD, not 30 AD. On the other hand, most partial preterists compound that error by depriving the parousia in AD 70 of having any significance relative to the terminus a quo (origin point) or terminus ad quem (end point) of the millennium. As a result, full preterism wrongly identifies the “second death” with 70 AD, and partial preterists (most of them) deny (also wrongly) a resurrection took place then at all, contradicting Dan. 12.
Orthodox Preterism, alternatively, affirms that the “first resurrection” occurred in 70 AD after Christ descended to “torments” in Hades to preach to those in prison (I Pet.3:19)–granting some the possibility of repentance–and will be followed by the second resurrection and “second death” in the future (post millennium) per Rev. 20:5a.
13. Full preterism cannot manipulate the timing of the Jews’ regathering according to Ezekiel (39: 21-29) and Paul (Romans 11) without either insinuating the Jews’ dispersion and regathering happened simultaneously (in AD 70), or arguing for an AD 70 diaspora of the New Israel to be followed by a regathering–which claim in itself destroys the full preterist commitment to all biblical prophecy being completed by 70 AD.
Preston of course tried to argue Rev. 7 shows us the fulfillment of the “12 tribes” of physical Israel. But this just shows what desperate lengths full preterists must go to to establish their position on Romans 11. Rev. 7:9 explicitly shows us the “12 tribes” are a symbolic reference to the fullness of the transition period martyrs (New Israel).
X. Tying up Loose Ends on Preston’s Latest Rebuttal
Preston’s eagerness to force all of Scripture into a 70 AD strait jacket causes him to prove far too much.
1.) When Matt. 17:11 states Elijah (John the Baptist) would “restore all things”, Mr. Preston immediately relates this to Acts 3:21’s “times of restoration of all things”–which Luke states would begin when the Parousia arrived in 70.
— If we want to be as exegetically rigorous as Preston wishes, John the Baptist died during the ministry of Christ. But according to Preston’s view, not all things were restored until AD 70. Did John the Baptist restore all things or not?
Of course, John the Baptist did “restore all things”, but instead of searching for the proper sense in which the text should be taken, Preston automatically presses it into the service of full preterism’s AD 70 paradigm.
If Preston were familiar with Holy Tradition (not all things therein appear in the Scriptural writings themselves) he would know that John the Baptist restored all things in his specific capacity (only) as forerunner of Jesus. As Apostolic Tradition teaches, not only did John the Baptist pave the way for Christ through his preaching and baptizing, he did so via his martyrdom and by preceding Christ in Hades in the “prison” part of Hades.
— Further, Acts 3:21 says the Parousia in 70 AD would usher in the “times” (plural) of restoration. This indicates (for Preston) that the restoration was definitively fulfilled in all its aspects the moment the Parousia occurred. Wait, what? The “times” (plural) of restoration were fulfilled in a single moment in AD 70?
Preston falsely states regarding this text: “The restoration of all things would be consummated at the coming of the Lord (Acts 3:21f; Jonathan agrees).”
Oh, do I now? What I have argued all along is that the times of restoration were ushered in by AD 70, not that they were finished then. If the times of restoration were completed by AD 70, they would have been inaugurated before AD 70. But Preston himself disagrees.
Full preterists continue (ironically) to twist time texts! They want the Jews dispersed and restored simultaneously, and now they want the “times of restoration” inaugurated and fulfilled simultaneously!
— Preston marshals Gal. 4:4 in support of his assertion that the last days of the Old Covenant correspond to the completion of Luke’s “times of restoration” in Acts 3:21. Gal. 4:4 reads:
“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law.” Preston remarks concerning this verse:
“The fullness of time was the first century, and more definitively, it was the last days of Old Covenant Israel!”
Absolutely! I agree. But this is not what Acts is talking about. Preston makes the same mistake here he makes with Matt 17:11. The “fullness of time” corresponds with the passing away of the Old Covenant (Heb. 8:13) as it relates to Christ’s birth (Incarnation), earthly ministry, and redemptive work in the first century.
Gal. 4:4 speaks in the past tense (“When the fullness of the time had come…”). The fullness of the time was inaugurated with the birth of Christ. Acts 3:21, on the other hand, states that the heavens must received Christ “…until the times of restoration of all things” (future tense), “…so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (vs. 20).
We are experiencing the “times of refreshing” from the “presence of the Lord” now! These “times” were inaugurated in 70 AD.
“The fullness of the times” in Eph. 1:9-10 is clearly referring here to the period of transition and the final passing away of the “last days” of the Old Covenant (Heb. 8:13) . This text obviously corresponds with Gal. 4:4 and Luke 21:22. But again, as Luke shows us, “the times of restoration” did not start until AD 70. So the “fullness of the times” (Eph. 1:9-10) and “fullness of the time” (Gal. 4:4) is the transition period (30-70), not the “times of restoration” (Acts.3:21) which were yet to arrive.
2.) Preston wants so badly for his interlocutor (me) to accept Romans 16:20 and Isaiah 27:1 refer to the ultimate destruction of Satan that he proves too much here as well.
First off, Neither Rev. 12 (when Satan falls to earth from heaven), nor Rev. 20:1-3 (when Satan is bound for a thousand years in the abyss), nor Rev. 20:10 (when Satan is cast into the lake of fire) uses the language of Isaiah or of Paul. John does not use the words “crush” or “slay”. So to assume that Paul and Isaiah are employing terminology that belongs to Satan’s ultimate punishment is the height of presumption.
Further, Satan is never annihilated. If Preston wants to take these terms literally, he must hold that Satan literally died–that he was annihilated and is now non-existent.
Do you see how absurd this all gets?
3.) Preston utilizes the theme of the (already) priestly rule of the saints, the reign of Christ, and the “binding” between 30-70 to prove that the millennium occurred during that period:
“Priests–Hebrews 13:15; 1 Peter 2:5; Revelation 1:5f– Undeniably the saints were a spiritual priesthood, offering up spiritual sacrifices in the spiritual temple.”
“Thrones – Ephesians 1-2 – Christ had been enthroned in the heavenly places, with ALL AUTHORITY (Matthew 28:18f). He was ruling (1 Corinthians 15:23f– the present infinitive demands that Christ was reigning when Paul wrote) as he awaited the putting down of the last enemy, just as in Revelation 20. The saints had been raised to sit with him (the language is “enthronement” language and were ruling with him, Ephesians 2:1-5).”
“The binding of Satan – Christ had bound Satan, triumphing over him through the Cross (Luke 10:18; Colossians 2:15f).”
But as we have seen from the foregoing, this was just a prequel of the fullness of that priestly reign and binding. Notice in the texts Preston utilizes, believers are serving as a spiritual priesthood in a preliminary way (before death). As we already showed, Dan. 7:9-11, Rev. 7:14-17, and Rev.20:1-6 are describing the beginning of a priesthood and reign on thrones that begins in the heavenly temple itself, a reign and priestly service that began in AD 70.
The same principle obviously goes for the (partial) binding of Satan by the Cross of Christ (Heb. 2:14). Since Satan is still active on earth after his casting from earth to heaven (Rev. 12:7-17), he was obviously not yet bound in “the abyss” or “bottomless pit” yet (Rev. 20:1-3).
Preston has a lot of explaining to do if he wants to show that the earth is synonymous with the abyss. He will find no evidence for this whatsoever.
4.) Preston raises the issue of Titus and disagrees that Titus is the Man of Sin. Since this issue is bound up with my position but not critical at the moment, I have no interest in taking that up now. If Mr. Preston would like to explore this topic in subsequent exchanges, I am happy to do so.
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