Friday, January 31, 2020

A Refutation of the “Pre-Kingdom Kingdom” Theory (Part Two)

For part one, click here: http://thathappyexpectation.blogspot.com/2020/01/a-refutation-of-pre-kingdom-kingdom.html

A Response to “Fellowship of the Mystery”

Recently I learned that, in addition to the theory refuted in the last article, there is also a “hybrid” theory which combines elements of the premillennial “pre-kingdom kingdom” position with a belief that the thousand years referred to in Rev. 20:4-6 will precede (rather than follow) Christ’s return to earth. According to this theory, the prophesied events referred to in (for example) Ezekiel 36-37 will take place during the thousand years (which I also believe). However, since this peculiar theory denies that the thousand years will follow Christ’s return to earth, it’s believed that the kingdom being described in Ezekiel 37:15-28 will precede the kingdom of God that will be established on the earth when Christ returns.

One believer who holds to this theory (and who, as far as I know, is the only believer who holds to it) goes by the name of “Fellowship of the Mystery” on YouTube. However, since he’s identified himself as “Brian” in some of his comments, this is the name I’ll be using in the following rebuttal.

In defense of his position, Brian wrote the following in the comments section of a YouTube video posted by Martin Zender (MZTV 354):

“When we’re removed, Satan will be cast down and bound for a thousand years and released for a short time during the end of the thousand-year period, where he will set off the events described in Matthew 24, including the abomination of desolation in the temple. Rev 20:1-3. After our removal and after Satan is bound, God will again raise up a prophet, like he did with John, who was Elijah, (Matthew 11:14) who will restore all things. Matthew 11:17 & Malachi 4:6. David, who will be king, is the Prince and Messiah that will feeds them (Ezekiel 34:23 & 37:24) and he will be cut off/murdered (Daniel 9:26) by Satan when he is released near the end of the age.”

According to Brian, the “Elijah” who we find prophesied in Malachi 4:5 (and referred to by Christ in Matt. 17:11) is going to “restore all things in Israel, including, building the third temple.” We’re then told by Brian that, following Elijah’s prophetic ministry (but approximately one thousand years before Christ’s return), “Israel will ‘then’ be under a new covenant,” and the prophecy of which we read in Jeremiah 31:31-34 will be fulfilled (or begin to be fulfilled). However, it should be noted that Brian did not provide scriptural support for his belief that Jer. 31:31-34 is going to be fulfilled before the events prophesied by Christ in Matthew 24. That is, he did not provide scriptural support for the view that the new covenant will be fulfilled before the coming of Christ referred to in Matt. 24:30.

In accord with other related assumptions, Brian is simply assuming that Jeremiah’s prophecy concerning Israel’s new covenant (Jer. 31:31-34) is going to be fulfilled before the events prophesied by Christ in Matthew 24. But this, I believe, is an invalid assumption on his part. Jeremiah’s prophecy is going to be fulfilled after Christ has returned to earth (which will be immediately after this seven-year period has ended). The same goes for everything prophesied in Ezekiel 34 and 37 concerning Israel under the new covenant. These prophecies are going to be fulfilled after Christ’s return to earth, and not before.

That Paul understood the implementation of the new covenant to be a future event that will follow Christ’s return seems evident from what he wrote in Romans 11:25-27. In these verses we read the following: 

“For I am not willing for you to be ignorant of this secret, brethren, lest you may be passing for prudent among yourselves, that callousness, in part, on Israel has come, until the complement of the nations may be entering. And thus all Israel shall be saved, according as it is written, Arriving out of Zion shall be the Rescuer. He will be turning away irreverence from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them Whenever I should be eliminating their sins.

When Paul wrote, “according as it is written,” he had in mind the words of Isaiah 59:20-21. Here is the full quotation of the second part quoted by Paul, from Isaiah 59:21: “As for Me, this is My covenant with them, says Yahweh: My spirit which is on you And My words which I place in your mouth, They shall not be removed from your mouth, Or from the mouth of your seed, Or from the mouth of your seed’s seed, says Yahweh, Henceforth and for the eon.” Whereas in Jeremiah 31 God promised to put his laws in the minds and write them on the hearts of his covenant people, here God promises that the “words” which he places in their mouth will never be removed from their mouth. And the “Rescuer” who will be “arriving out of Zion” is clearly a reference to Jesus Christ himself (and not merely to David). Thus, it is not until after Christ has returned to earth (and is sitting enthroned in Zion) that this prophecy concerning God’s covenant with Jacob/Israel will begin to be fulfilled.

Brian went on to write: “The tribulation happens just before Jesus' second coming at the end of the age, 1000 years after our snatching away in the air. We will spend the entire 1000-year Day of the Lord, with Him and will return with Him in great glory, at His second advent, when He plants His feet on the Mount of Olives.”

Brian is, I believe, confusing the end of this eon (which leads up to the commencement of Christ’s reign) with the end of the next eon (during which Christ will be reigning). The eon in which we're living is going to end after the final seven years prophesied in Daniel 9 have transpired (which will end just before Christ returns to earth). And the next eon (the 
“coming eon” or “age to come”) is going to end sometime after the thousand years referred to in Rev. 20:4-6 have run their course, and the insurrection prophesied in Rev. 20:7-9 has occurred (see Ezekiel 38-39 for a more detailed description of the events referred to in Rev. 20:7-9). When this event takes place, the saints will have already been reigning with Christ on the earth for a thousand years.

In response to my comments on Brian's original post defending this theory (where I remarked that the prophetic ministry of Elijah is going to span the first half of the final seven years of this eon), Brian replied: “Please provide scriptural support for Elijah's ministry spanning the last 7 years of this eon.”

Concerning the arrival and prophetic ministry of “Elijah” prophesied in Malachi 4:5 (and by Christ in Matt. 17:11), it needs to be emphasized that I’m in full agreement with Brian that this ministry will take place after the body of Christ is snatched away. In fact, this point is essential to one of the arguments made in one of my articles on the timing of the snatching away in relation to the 70th week prophesied in Daniel 9 (http://thathappyexpectation.blogspot.com/2019/05/the-timing-of-snatching-away-in_18.html). I’m also in complete agreement with Brian that everything prophesied in Christ’s “Olivet Discourse” in Matthew 24-25 will be fulfilled after the snatching away of the body of Christ, and have also argued in defense of this point elsewhere (see, for example, part two of my defense of the imminence of the snatching away: https://thathappyexpectation.blogspot.com/2019/05/before-pangs-begin-defense-of-imminence_15.html). Those in the body of Christ are not, I don’t think, going to go through the events prophesied by Christ in Matthew 24. These events will be occurring during (and limited to) the final seven years of this present eon.

What Brian and I disagree on is the belief that Elijah’s ministry is going to span the first half of the last 7 years of this eon. For reasons that I don’t think he’s made sufficiently clear, Brian apparently believes that Elijah’s ministry is going to be occurring at the start of the coming eon. To better explain why I think my understanding of when Elijah’s ministry takes place is correct, I think it would be helpful to first establish when and how the present eon ends, and when/how “the eon to come” beginsI believe Scripture reveals that this eon (i.e., what Paul referred to the “present wicked eon,” and which I believe began after the flood of Noah’s day) is going to be replaced by the “coming eon” when Christ returns to earth. Christ, on several occasions, contrasted “this eon” with “the eon to come” (which will commence after this eon ends). And it is during “the eon to come” that the kingdom of God will be present on the earth. It is during the eon to come that we’re told Christ will be sitting on “the throne of his glory,” and Christ’s twelve disciples will be sitting on twelve thrones and judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt. 19:28-30; cf. Luke 18:29-30). This kingdom in which they’ll be judging is referred to as Christ’s kingdom in Luke 22:28-30. And the eon in which these things will be taking place is the eon that will commence when Christ returns (Matt. 25:31-32).

Keeping in mind the fact that the “coming eon” (or “impending” eon) is that which will follow “this eon” (the “present wicked eon”), consider the following argument:

1. When Christ returns, he will sit on the throne of his glory and judge the nations (Matt. 25:31-32).
2. It is during (and not after) “the coming eon” that Christ will be sitting on the throne of his glory, and the twelve disciples will be sitting on twelve thrones in Christ’s kingdom, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt. 19:28-30; Luke 18:29-30; 22:28-30).
3. “The coming eon” that will follow the present wicked eon will begin (and the present wicked eon will end) when Christ returns.

This scripture-based argument seems pretty logical and straight-forward to me. And since Brian would agree that Elijah’s prophesied ministry is going to be taking place before Christ’s return, all that’s left to prove is that this ministry is going to take place during the first half of the last seven years leading up to the return of Christ (for a relatively detailed defense of this position, see the first article to which I provided a link, above).

Brian also said:“Christ will not reign on earth but David will.”

This is a false dichotomy. It’s like saying, “Christ will not reign on the earth but the saints will.” Both Christ and the saints will reign on the earth during the eon to come (including the “thousand years” referred to in Rev. 20:4-6, which will occur within the next eon). And among the saints who will be reigning on the earth during this time will be David, who (according to certain prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures) will reign as king. Although Brian apparently thinks it’s problematic to believe that both Jesus and David will reign as kings during the thousand years, there is no contradiction involved here. Christ will be “the King of kings” during the eon to come. David will also reign as a king in the kingdom that will be established by Christ after his return to earth, but will be subordinate to (or “under”) Christ. Apparently, Christ is going to delegate authority to David to reign as king in the kingdom that he (Christ) is going to restore to Israel after his return. Why would Christ do this? Well, this fact suggests that Christ isn’t going to be permanently present on the earth for the entire time following his return to earth (which would make sense given the fact that the kingdom of God is going to be located on the earth and among the celestials during the eons to come). Whenever Christ is not personally present on the earth, David will function as the highest authority on the earth, in his stead. Again, there’s nothing problematic about this state of affairs. It makes sense, given the fact that Christ will be reigning over two different spheres during the eons to come (heaven and earth), and – not being omnipresent – can’t be in two places at once. 

Brian went on to say, “The earth is Christ's footstool and we will reign with Him, judging the world and the angels (1 Cor 6:2-4) during the thousand-year Day of the Lord, from heaven, and we return with Him in great glory, at His second advent.”

It is during the thousand years referred to in Rev. 20:4-6 that we’re told the saints in “the former resurrection” will “live and reign with Christ,” and it’s evident from elsewhere (e.g., Rev. 5:10) that this reign of the saints (which, again, is “with Christ”) is going to be “on the earth.” While I agree that Christ returns during the day of the Lord (and that we in the body of Christ will be returning with him in glory, at His second advent), I see no scriptural reason to believe that this return of Christ to earth takes place after the thousand-year reign of the saints referred to in Rev. 5:10 and 20:4-6. Rather, it is Christ’s return to earth (and the subsequent establishment of the kingdom of God on the earth) that makes this thousand-year reign possible.

Moreover, the thousand-year reign referred to in Rev. 20 follows chronologically/sequentially from the return of Christ to earth prophesied in Rev. 19. So I can’t help but conclude that Brian is simply getting these events out of order. There’s simply no good, scripturally-informed reason to put the thousand-year reign of the saints referred to in Rev. 20 before the return of Christ referred to in Rev. 19. When Christ returns, he sits on “the throne of his glory.” And after Christ resurrects the saints who will have a part in the “former resurrection,” they will reign with him.

Here’s another argument that demonstrates the logical and scriptural soundness of this position:

1. The fulfillment of Christ’s promise to the twelve disciples concerning their sitting on twelve thrones (Matt. 19:28) will take place when the saints who have a part in the former resurrection will “live and reign with Christ a thousand years” (Rev. 20:4-6).
2. The twelve disciples will not sit on twelve thrones until after Christ has returned to earth and is sitting on “the throne of his glory” (Matt. 19:28; Luke 22:28-30; Matt. 25:31-32).
3. The thousand years during which the saints in the former resurrection will live and reign with Christ will not occur until after Christ has returned to earth and is sitting on “the throne of his glory.”

There is another point that could be made to demonstrate the untenable nature of Brian’s theory. In Revelation 13, we read that a certain person referred to as the “false prophet” will, through the demonstration of supernatural power (which will, evidently, appear to come directly from God himself), be making the inhabitants of the earth worship another person who is referred to in Revelation as “the wild beast” (Rev. 13:11-12). This chapter continues as follows:

And it [the false prophet] is deceiving those dwelling on the earth because of the signs which were given it to do in the sight of the wild beast, saying to those dwelling on the earth to make an image to the wild beast which has the blow of the sword and lives. And it was given to it to give spirit to the image of the wild beast, that the image of the wild beast should be speaking also, and should be causing that whosoever should not be worshiping the image of the wild beast may be killed. And it is causing all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free and the slaves, that they may be giving them an emblem on their right hand, or on their forehead, and that no one may be able to buy or sell except the one having the emblem of the wild beast, or its name, or the number of its name. Revelation 13:14-17

Now, Brian and I are in agreement that the forty-two months (or 3 ½ years) during which the future events described in this chapter will be taking place will transpire just before Christ’s return to earth (i.e., Christ’s “second coming”). However, Brian also believes that this time period will be occurring after the thousand-year reign of the saints referred to in Rev. 20:4-6 has ended. But there’s a big problem with this view. To see what that problem is, let’s consider Rev. 20:4-6:

And I perceived thrones, and they are seated on them, and judgment was granted to them. And the souls of those executed because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who do not worship the wild beast or its image, and did not get the emblem on their forehead and on their hand – they also live and reign with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead do not live until the thousand years should be finished.) This is the former resurrection. Happy and holy is he who is having part in the former resurrection! Over these the second death has no jurisdiction, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will be reigning with Him the thousand years.

I’ve placed in bold the part that contradicts Brian’s theory. Notice that, among those who will have a part in the “former resurrection” – and who will “live and reign with Christ a thousand years” – are those who were executed for not worshipping the wild beast and its image, and who didn’t get the emblem on their forehead or on their hand. The clear implication of these verses is that those executed during the regime of the “wild beast” and “false prophet” (and who, during this time, “did not get the emblem on their forehead and on their hand”) will be among those restored to life in the “former resurrection” to “live and reign with Christ a thousand years.” And this can only mean that the resurrection and reign of the saints being referred to in Rev. 20:4-6 will take place after the events described in Rev. 13:11-17. We can, therefore, conclude that the “forty-two months” referred to in Rev. 13 (which will transpire just before Christ’s return to earth at the end of the eon) will occur before the thousand years begin, and not after the thousand years have ended (as Brian’s theory requires).

Consider the following argument:

1. Christ’s return to earth is going to take place immediately after the forty-two months during which the “wild beast” will have “authority to do what it wills” (Rev. 13:1-8).
2. Among those who will be resurrected to live and reign with Christ for a thousand years will be those who were executed for not worshipping the wild beast or its image (Rev. 20:4-5).
3. Christ’s return to earth is going to take place before the thousand years referred to in Rev. 20:4-5

In some remarks on Daniel 9:26, Brian claimed that the Messiah referred to here (and who we’re told would be “cut off”) is David at a future time (rather than Jesus, in the past), and that he (David) is going to be martyred after the thousand years of Rev. 20:4-6 have transpired. However, Brian provides no scriptural support or argumentation for this claim. Brian quotes from Ezekiel 34 and 37, but nothing in these chapters support his particular interpretation of Daniel 9:26, since nothing said in these chapters indicates that (1) the 70 weeks prophesied in Daniel 9 will be occurring during the kingdom being described in these chapters, or that (2) that David – after being resurrected by Christ – will be “martyred” after the thousand years have transpired. It’s all question-begging conjecture on Brian’s part. Brian also quotes Hosea 3:5, but there’s nothing in this verse that indicates or suggests that David is the Messiah being referred to in Daniel 9:26.

Brian also asked (referring to what’s said in Daniel 9:26), “How can the covenant come ‘after’ this if the people are destroyed?”

Dan. 9:26 is simply describing certain events that would be occurring sometime after the 62 weeks transpired (which would follow the initial seven weeks referred to in v. 25). We’re not told when, exactly, these events would occur after the 7+62 (or 69) weeks have transpired, or how close together they would occur after the 7+62 weeks. We’re simply told that they would occur. Then, in v. 27, we’re given more information concerning the final 70th week. So regardless of whether the destruction of the city and sanctuary referred to in v. 26 occurred in 70 AD (which is what I’m inclined to believe) or will occur during the 70th week, it doesn’t follow that the confirmation of the “covenant” referred to in v. 27 occurs after the people with whom the covenant is made are “destroyed” (assuming that this is what Brian’s point is).

Brian went on to say: “If you combine Daniel's prophecies, and the events that MUST occur in Matthew 24, I think it's safe to say that Daniel's 70th week can be placed at the end of the next age, just prior to Jesus' second coming.”

Contrary to Brian’s claim, combining Daniel 9 with Matthew 24 does not, in fact, lead to the conclusion that Daniel’s 70th week will occur “at the end of the next age,” or that Jesus’ second coming takes place “at the end of the next age.” This is, of course, what Brian’s asserting is the case, but nothing he writes in defense of his position even comes close to supporting it. The “next age” is the coming eon, and the eon to come will (as I argued earlier) begin when the present eon ends. And the present eon is going to end after Christ returns and sits on “the throne of his glory.”

Brian quoted Acts 7:49, but the “Lord” being referred to here is Yahweh, not his Son, Jesus. He also asserted that “The ascended and glorified Christ, whom we know in the flesh no longer, (2 Cor 5:16) could not possibly set up an earthly kingdom.” However, 2 Cor. 5:16 in no way supports Brian’s claim that Jesus can’t set up an earthly kingdom and then exercise authority in this kingdom as king. If an immortal human can return to earth, why couldn’t he set up a kingdom on earth, and exercise his authority on the earth as king? Brian seems to be assuming that Christ couldn’t exercise authority on the earth as king during the thousand years without also permanently remaining on the earth for the entire time of the thousand-year kingdom (and the eon during which the thousand years transpire). But there’s no good reason to assume this. The fact is that Jesus Christ will be able to remain on the earth in the kingdom of God during the eon(s) to come for as long as he needs to, and come and go as he pleases (as will we, who are members of his body).

Brian also quoted John 18:36 in support of his assumption that Christ couldn’t “set up an earthly kingdom,” or exercise his kingly authority in this kingdom on the earth at any time. However, this verse doesn’t support his assumption, either. Here’s John 18:36 from the CLNT: 

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My deputies, also, would have contended, lest I should be given up to the Jews. Yet now is My kingdom not hence.”

I’ve placed in bold the words that bring out the meaning of what Christ was declaring to Pilate. Christ was simply telling Pilate that, as long as “this world” continued, the kingdom over which he will be ruling as king will not be present (hence the words, “Yet now is my kingdom not hence”). Why is Christ’s future kingdom not of “this world?” Because it belongs to the next world – i.e., the world that corresponds to the next eon (the “coming eon”). What Christ referred to as “this world” is the world that corresponds to what Paul referred to as “the present wicked eon” (Gal. 1:4). See also Eph. 2:2, where Paul referred to this present eon as “the eon of this world.” So it’s no surprise that Christ would say his kingdom is “not of this world.” But it would be fallacious to infer (as Brian seems to be doing) that the kingdom to which Christ was referring in John 18:36 is not a kingdom that will be on the earth at any future time. For when Christ returns and brings the present wicked eon to an end, the “kingdom of this world” will become “our Lord’s and His Christ’s, and He shall be reigning for the eons of the eons!” (Rev. 11:15)

Addendum (added 2/22/20)

Another chronological problem with Brian’s position involves the timing of when Satan is cast out of heaven and into the earth (as described in Rev. 12:7-12). At the beginning of this rebuttal I quoted Brian as stating, “When we’re removed, Satan will be cast down and bound for a thousand years and released for a short time during the end of the thousand-year period, where he will set off the events described in Matthew 24, including the abomination of desolation in the temple.” 

The problem with this view is that Satan’s involvement in the events described in Matthew 24 is going to take place immediately after he is cast down from heaven. In Revelation 12:13 we read, “And when the dragon perceived that it was cast into the earth, it persecutes the woman who brought forth the male.” This persecution of “the woman” by “the dragon” refers to Satan’s persecution of the believing Jewish remnant who will be living in the land of Israel when the abomination of desolation takes place, and will begin to be fulfilled at the start of the 3 ½ years of “great affliction” referred to in Matt. 24:15-22 (when, after perceiving the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place, the remnant in Judea flees into the mountains/wilderness to be protected for 1,260 days; cf. Rev. 12:6, 14-17).

Thus, it is “when” Satan is cast out into the earth (as we’re explicitly told in Rev. 12:13) that he will, in Brian’s words, “set off the events described in Matthew 24, including the abomination of desolation in the temple.” Notice also that we’re told that, upon being cast out of heaven and into the earth, Satan is enraged because he knows that the season he has is “brief” (Rev. 12:12). What time period or “season” is in view here? Answer: This is a reference to the second half of the 70th “week” (which is referred to as 1,260 days in Rev. 12:6 and 42 months in Rev. 13:5). 

Here, then, is the prophesied sequence of events:

1. There is going to be a battle in heaven that results in Satan losing his current place in heaven, and being cast into the earth (Rev. 12:7-12).

2. When Satan perceives that he has been cast into the earth, he sets off the events prophesied in Matt. 24:15-22 (which will involve the believing Jewish remnant in Judea – symbolized as a sun-clothed woman in Rev. 12 – fleeing into the wilderness and being supernaturally protected during the 3 ½ years of “great affliction”).

3. Immediately after the affliction of those days (i.e., immediately after the 3 ½ years of great affliction with which this present wicked eon will conclude), Christ will come on the clouds of heaven with power and much glory (Matt. 24:29-31; Rev. 19:11-16).

4. After Christ has returned to earth and defeated the enemies of Israel (Rev. 19:19-21), Satan is bound for a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-4).


This scripturally-informed sequence of events is not compatible with Brian’s view that the events described in Matthew 24 will be occurring after Satan has been bound for a thousand years.

A Refutation of the “Pre-Kingdom Kingdom” Theory (Part One)

Introduction

According to Scripture, the kingdom of God is going to be established on the earth after Christ returns to earth. Consider, for example, the following words declared by Christ to his disciples in Luke 21:27-31:

“And then they shall be seeing the Son of Mankind coming in a cloud with power and much glory. Now at the beginning of these occurrences, unbend and lift up your heads, because your deliverance is drawing near.”

And He told them a parable: “Perceive the fig tree and all the trees. Whenever they should be already budding, you, observing for yourselves, know it is because summer is already near. Thus you also, whenever you may be perceiving these things occurring, know that near is the kingdom of God.”

I believe the kingdom of God to which Christ referred in the above passage is the same kingdom of God to which he referred throughout his earthly ministry (e.g., in Luke 8:1; 9:2, 11; 11:2; 12:32; 13:28-29; 18:28-30). And according to what we read above, the coming of this kingdom is inseparably connected with the coming of Christ “with power and much glory” (an event which will involve the “deliverance” of the believers who will be alive on the earth when this event takes place).

Now, according to some students of scripture, there is a prophesied “kingdom of God” that is going to be established on the earth approximately 500 years before Christ returns to earth and establishes the kingdom of God that we find referred to in the above verses. Most proponents of this view believe that this “pre-kingdom kingdom” will be a kingdom that will exist on the earth before the thousand years referred to in Rev. 20:4-6 (in other words, it will be a “premillennial” kingdom). According to this position, Christ will not be personally/bodily present on the earth during the time of this premillennial, “pre-kingdom kingdom.” Rather, it is believed that Christ will be governing earth’s affairs from heaven during this time. It is not until after the approximately 500 year-long “premillennial kingdom era” has run its course that Christ’s return to earth in power and glory takes place.

One of the original proponents of this theory (if he wasn’t the originator of the theory) was Bible teacher Otis Q. Sellers. According to a dispensational chart found on Sellers’ “Seed and Bread” ministry website, God is, at some future time, going to “literally invade the earth with His Spirit, taking over the governments of all nations to remake them.” This 500+ year-long premillennial “pre-kingdom kingdom” era was further specified by Sellers as being identical with the “day of Christ” that Paul referred to several times in his letters. And the act of divine intervention through which this pre-kingdom kingdom era was thought by Sellers to arrive was referred to as the “Blazing Forth of Christ” (with “blazing forth” being, apparently, Sellers’ own preferred translation of the Greek word epiphaneia, which is a term usually translated as “advent” or “appearing”).

Note: For the most part I will be abbreviating “premillennial kingdom” (or “pre-kingdom kingdom”) as simply “PK.”

The PK position vs. Scripture on the time of the resurrection of the dead

There are, I believe, a number of problems with Sellers’ PK theory that should lead the student of scripture to reject it as erroneous. One such problem was first articulated to me by my friend and fellow believer, Phillip Garrison. 

According to the chart explaining the chronology of events affirmed by the PK position, people are going to be resurrected and judged during the entire duration of this premillennial kingdom era (this event is referred to on the chart as “Resurrections to Life in Order”). When this premillennial kingdom era begins, we’re told that Christ will “determine who among the living is worthy to continue to live and who among the dead shall be raised, and in what order to have a portion in the life of the Kingdom of God.” This being the case, it would mean that the “Resurrections to Life in Order” is chronologically prior to (by more than 500 years) the event described by Paul in 1 Thess. 4:15-17 – an event which, according to the chart, involves the return of Christ to earth just prior to the commencement of his millennial reign. However, as Phillip has rightly observed, Paul only spoke of the resurrection of those to whom he wrote as taking place at the time of the event described in 1 Thess. 4:15-17 (see also 1 Cor. 15:20-23, 50-55). Since the PK teaching has the resurrection of believers taking place 500+ years before the event described by Paul in the above verses, the two teachings are chronologically incompatible.

As is the case with Paul, Christ’s teaching concerning the time of the resurrection is also inconsistent with the PK position. In John’s account, Christ referred to the day on which the resurrection of believers is to take place as “the last day” (John 6:39, 40, 44, 54; see also Martha’s words in John 11:24). But why would Christ refer to an approximately 500-year-long period of time that is to precede an even longer period of time (his millennial reign) as the “last day?” Understood as a reference to the premillennial kingdom era, the expression would be inexplicable.

The expression “the last day” is most likely an allusion to the prophecy found in Daniel 12:12-13, where it is revealed by a celestial messenger that the resurrection of Daniel (and, by implication, all righteous Israelites) will take place “at the end of the days” referred to in v. 12 (which will be 75 days after the 70th heptad comes to an end). If this is the case, then the “last day” to which Christ referred will take place in the eon to come (for it was clearly the belief of both Christ and his apostles that the present eon will end – and the next eon will begin – with the coming of Christ in power and glory with all his holy messengers; see Matt. 24:3, 29-31; cf. 13:36-43; 19:23-30).

Confirming this chronology concerning the time of the resurrection are Christ’s words in Luke 20:34-36, where we find it taught that the resurrection of those Israelites “deemed worthy” will not take place during this eon but rather in “that eon” – i.e., the eon that is to succeed the present one, and during which “eonian life” will be enjoyed by believers. It is thus after Christ’s eon-terminating return to earth – and not any time prior to this – that the resurrection of all “just” and “worthy” Israelites will take place, and they will be repaid for their good works (Luke 14:14; cf. Matt. 16:27). But this, of course, contradicts the PK position (which, again, says that the “resurrections to life” of those deemed worthy by Christ will begin at least 490 years prior to Christ’s return to earth at the end of the eon). Thus, both the words of Paul and Christ contradict the PK position concerning the time of the resurrection of the dead.

The PK position vs. Scripture on when believers will enjoy Christ’s presence

As noted earlier, the PK teaching holds that, although Christ will be governing the affairs of earth during the premillennial kingdom era, Christ will not be personally present with believers on earth during this time. He will be exercising his authority over the earth from his throne in heaven. One proponent of the PK theory explained this point as follows: “Jesus Christ can rule from heaven before He returns to earth. This is the seasons of refreshing which will last at least 490 years…When Jesus Christ personally returns He isn’t returning to govern. He will have already been doing that for many years before. When Jesus Christ returns He does so in order to be present.”

Once again, Paul’s words contradict this position. According to Paul, the resurrection of the “dead in Christ” (as well as the change of the saints who will be alive at the time) will occur right before they are snatched away to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thess. 4:15-17). In other words, the event that Paul understood to involve the resurrection of those in Christ (which included those who were dead when he wrote to the Thessalonians) will also involve their being introduced into the presence of Christ. Similarly, in 1 Cor. 15:23, the resurrection of “those who are Christ’s” is associated with Christ’s presence (literally, “BESIDE-BEING”) – i.e., his close proximity to believers rather than his absence from us (which characterizes the present state of affairs, while he remains in heaven).

It is equally evident from 2 Corinthians 5 that Paul believed that the resurrection of believers will involve being introduced into the presence of Christ. For Paul, remaining in this mortal, corruptible state meant being away from Christ, while being resurrected and vivified to enjoy eonian life in a future, immortal body meant being “at home” with Christ (2 Cor. 5:6-10). Paul expressed the same idea and expectation in Phil. 1:23 (cf. Phil. 3:20-21). Similarly, Paul’s words in Col. 3:1-4 also imply that our post-death existence will involve being together with Christ. Since the PK teaching is inconsistent with what Paul made known in these passages, it should be rejected by all who hold to the inspiration and authority of what Paul wrote.

Scripture vs. the PK position on when the kingdom of God will be present on earth

The prophecies of the book of Daniel concerning the time of the commencement of the kingdom of God also contradict the PK theory. From the beginning of Christ’s earthly ministry it was declared that the era had been fulfilled and that the kingdom of God (or “kingdom of the heavens”) was “near” (Matt. 3:2; 4:17; Mark 1:15; Luke 4:43; 8:1). The basis for the interchangeable expressions “kingdom of God” and “kingdom of the heavens” used by Christ is found in the words of Daniel 2:44:

“In their days, that is, of these kings, the God of the heavens shall set up a kingdom that for the eons shall not come to harm, nor shall His kingdom be left to another people. It shall pulverize and terminate all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for the eons.”

According to this prophecy, the kingdom of God will not be set up on the earth until the “days…of these kings.” The “kings” referred to in this verse are ten kings who will be on earth during the time of the fourth worldwide kingdom depicted in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Dan. 2:32-33, 40-43). This kingdom and its kings are referred to again in Daniel 7. There, we find described a vision that Daniel had in which this kingdom is symbolically depicted as a frightening, ten-horned beast (v. 7, vv. 19-26) – with the ten horns being explained as symbolizing ten kings who will have authority within this kingdom. We also find in this chapter that the final world ruler to persecute the saints of Israel will become the dominant ruler of this last-days kingdom. He will be contemporaneous with (and ultimately come to be superior to) the ten initial kings that will have authority within this kingdom. We also know that this will be the final dominant Gentile kingdom that will be present on the earth at the time of Christ’s coming to establish the kingdom of God on earth (Dan. 7:13-14, 26-27).

According to the book of Daniel, then, the kingdom of God/kingdom of the heavens will not be set up on the earth at any point prior to the fourth worldwide, Gentile kingdom prophesied in chapters 2 and 7. This is consistent with Christ’s words to his disciples in Luke 21:25-31, where the coming of the kingdom of God is inseparable from the return of Christ with power and glory at the end of this eon, and is said to come only after the events of which Christ spoke throughout this prophetic discourse begin occurring. The idea that there will be a Messiah-governed “kingdom of God” on earth before the kingdom referred to in Daniel 2:44 is, therefore, incompatible with these facts.

PK Proof-Texts Examined

Acts 3:19-21

Despite the inconsistencies between the above verses of scripture and the PK position, those holding to this theory believe there are a few verses which support it, and which only make sense within the paradigm of this theory. One such text is Acts 3:19-21. One proponent of this theory – Dan Sheridan – wrote the following in defense of the PK theory:[1]

“[Acts 3:19-21] has been interpreted by common orthodoxy as follows: if Israel had repented then Jesus would have come back in the Acts period.” Dan then challenges this commonly-held view by noting that the following things would not have happened if Israel had repented in Peter’s day:

1. The coming of Elijah to restore all things.
2. The seasons of refreshing.
3. The coming Anti-Christ.
4. The tribulations period.

Dan then concluded, “So the common dispensational orthodoxy is wrong.”

It may very well be the case that at least some “dispensationalist Christians” mistakenly believe that, when Peter addressed the crowds at Solomon’s portico, there was a genuine possibility that the nation of Israel (or, at least, the majority of people within the nation in that day) might have repented of their rejection of Jesus, and embraced him as their Messiah. According to this mistaken view, God was essentially “offering Israel the kingdom” through the ministry of Peter and the other apostles, and Israel had it within her power to accept or reject this “offer.” But since the majority of the people constituting the Jewish nation didn’t repent at that time, God (according to the position Dan is criticizing) had to reluctantly “withdraw” his offer, postpone his intention to restore the kingdom to Israel, and raise up Paul to bring salvation to the nations instead (which would make the present state of affairs God’s “plan B”).

Of course, this view is completely inconsistent with the scriptural truth that God is operating all in accord with the counsel of his will, and even those with a “watered-down” view of God’s sovereignty would likely find it objectionable. While it’s true that Peter explained what will happen when Israel repents (indeed, God had given his word that one day Israel will repent and that these glorious consequences will follow their repentance), we also know that Israel’s repentance at that time was not in accord with God’s purpose. In hindsight, we know that there was no possibility whatsoever that Israel could have, or might have, repented. There was no “chance” that what Peter said would happen when Israel repented might have taken place within Peter’s lifetime. It was simply not meant to be, because God didn’t intend for it to be.

Even as the words recorded in Acts 3:19-21 were leaving Peter’s lips, it was God’s plan all along that a new, secret administration would soon be beginning – an administration that would be given to the apostle Paul, and which would involve both Jews and (primarily) Gentiles being justified by faith apart from works, their being conciliated to God, and their becoming members of the body of Christ. But what needs to be emphasized is that, not only was Peter not aware of this secret administration when he spoke the words recorded in Acts 3, but not even Paul himself knew how long this secret administration was to last before being succeeded by a new era.

So Dan is correct that the four things he lists could not have happened in Peter’s day (since, again, it was never God’s purpose that Israel, as a nation, repent at that time). However, Dan then went on to attribute this error committed by some dispensational Christians to “the theory that in order for God to govern the world Jesus Christ needs to be personally present.” In other words, Dan believed this error was due to a failure to understand and believe in the premillennial kingdom position! It’s an odd diagnosis, to be sure, since there are many “dispensationalists” who would whole-heartedly agree with Dan that Israel couldn’t have actually repented in Peter’s day (and that the events Dan lists couldn’t have taken place), but who also completely reject his premillennial kingdom position (or, as is more likely, are simply ignorant of it).

According to Dan, there are at least four things that have to happen before Christ returns. These four things are:

1. Israel must submit.
2. Israel must turn toward God.
3. Then Israel will be cleansed.
4. Then the seasons of refreshing will come from the face of the Lord.
5. THEN – and ONLY THEN, will Jesus Christ return.

Dan went on to say, “The fourth item is what causes many to stumble. For some reason people have a hard time believing that Jesus Christ can rule from heaven before He returns to earth. This is the seasons of refreshing which will last at least 490 years – more on that in future audios. When Jesus Christ personally returns He isn’t returning to govern. He will have already been doing that for many years before. When Jesus Christ returns He does so in order to BE PRESENT.”

Is this, in fact, what Peter believed and was making known in Acts 3:19-21? Let’s take a look at this passage from the Concordant Version:

“Repent, then, and turn about for the erasure of your sins, so that seasons of refreshing should be coming from the face of the Lord, and He should dispatch the One fixed upon before for you, Christ Jesus, Whom heaven must indeed receive until the times of restoration of all which God speaks through the mouth of His holy prophets who are from the eon.”

Here is the same passage from Young’s Literal Translation:

“…reform ye, therefore, and turn back, for your sins being blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and He may send Jesus Christ who before hath been preached to you, whom it behoveth heaven, indeed, to receive till times of a restitution of all things, of which God spake through the mouth of all His holy prophets from the age.”

It’s true that, according to Peter, Christ’s return will only take place after Israel has repented. However, contrary to Dan’s claims, the “seasons of refreshing” that are to “be coming from the face of the Lord” (v. 19) need not be understood as occurring before the time when Christ is dispatched/sent by God (v. 20). Rather, these “seasons” can be understood as beginning when Christ is dispatched.

In his article IMPLICATIONS OF THE KINGDOM IN ACTS 3:19–21, Peter Goeman notes the following concerning the connection between verses 19 and 20:

“The second part of the purpose clause that began in verse 19 (ὅπως ἂν) continues in verse 20, “and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you” (καὶ ἀποστείλῃ τὸν προκεχειρισμένον ὑμῖν χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν). The καὶ + subjunctive indicates an equal purpose, which is not to be separated in thought from the prior purpose in the latter part of verse 19. The sending of the Messiah and the “times of refreshing” are joined by one purpose conjunction, showing their mutual relationship” (https://www.tms.edu/m/msj26f.pdf).

Thus, the event referred to in v. 19 (i.e., the coming of the seasons of refreshing from the face of the Lord) should not be understood as taking place apart from the event referred to in v. 20 (the dispatching of Christ Jesus by God). God’s dispatching of Christ is the basis for the coming of the seasons of refreshing from the face of the Lord, and verse 20 should thus be understood as clarifying what Peter had in mind when he spoke the words recorded in v. 19. This view is, I believe, confirmed by what Peter declared next, in v. 21: Christ must remain in heaven “until the times of restoration of all which God speaks through the mouth of His holy prophets who are from the eon.” This doesn’t mean that the times of restoration must come and go before Christ can return; it means that they won’t begin to occur until Christ returns. It is Christ’s return – and not anything taking place during his absence - that initiates the times of restoration.

But what are the times of restoration to which Peter referred? The word translated as “restoration” in v. 21 does not appear elsewhere in Scripture. However, as noted by Goeman in his article, the verbal cognate is used in Jer. 16:15 (LXX) in reference to God’s promise to restore Israel to the land which was given to their fathers (cf. Jer. 23:8; 24:6; Hos. 11:11). And it is this very verbal cognate that appears in Acts 1:6, where we find Christ’s apostles asking him, “Lord, art thou at this time restoring the kingdom to Israel?” And shortly after answering their question (and beginning his ascent to heaven), two messengers appear and encourage them with the fact that Christ will be returning to earth in the same manner in which they were watching him ascend to heaven.

These verses strongly suggest that Christ’s apostles understood the restoration of the kingdom to Israel as something connected with Christ’s presence (i.e., his presence after returning to earth) rather than his ongoing absence. In any case, what needs to be emphasized is that the “seasons of refreshing” and the “times of restoration” of which Peter spoke refer to the same time period. And this time period cannot begin until Christ is dispatched from heaven. Dan is, therefore, mistaken to think that Peter’s words in Acts 3:19-21 support the PK position.

Matthew 12:14-21

Another passage thought to support the idea that Christ will be governing earth’s affairs from heaven for approximately 500 years before his eon-terminating return to earth is Matthew 12:14-21.[2] There, we read the following:

“Now, coming out, the Pharisees held a consultation against Him, so that they should be destroying Him. Now Jesus, knowing it, retires thence. And many follow Him, and He cures them all. And He warns them that they should not be making Him manifest, that fulfilled may be that which is declared through Isaiah the prophet, saying, Lo, My Boy Whom I prefer! My Beloved, in Whom My soul delights! I shall be placing My spirit on Him, And He shall be reporting judging to the nations. He will not be brawling, nor clamoring, Nor will anyone be hearing His voice in the squares. A reed that is bruised He will not be fracturing. And flax that is smouldering He will not be extinguishing...Till He should ever be casting out judging for victory. And on His name the nations will be relying.”

That which Matthew interpreted as a fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy (Isaiah 42:1-4) is the warning that Christ gave to the multitudes (after he’d healed them) to not “be making him manifest.” Although Christ’s public ministry involved numerous healings and other miraculous works, Christ wanted to remain as obscure and “under the radar” as possible at this point in time. This is consistent with the so-called “Messianic Secret” motif that runs throughout the Gospel accounts, where we find Christ repeatedly forbidding those who recognized his Messianic identity from telling anyone (Mt. 8:3-4; 16:15-20; Mk. 1:24-25, 34; 3:11-12; 5:42-43; 8:29-30; Luke 4:41, etc.). Concerning this motif, R.C. Sproul notes the following:

“Most of the nation was looking for a Messiah who would be a political revolutionary. They were looking for a king who would come in and release the nation from Roman domination. The demand for the release of Barabbas, a political zealot, instead of Christ (Matt 27:15-23) shows that most of Israel wanted a political savior. While these expectations were not wholly erroneous, most of the nation failed to grasp the full role of the Messiah. They failed to grasp the expectations in the prophetic writings (especially Isaiah 53) that the Messiah would not only be a political ruler but also a suffering servant. Jesus kept His identity hidden so that He would not encourage these incomplete expectations and bring upon Himself the wrath of the Roman government before the appointed time.”[3]

As is evident from Matthew’s interpretation of Isaiah’s prophecy, the work of the Messiah during his earthly ministry would be characterized by gentleness, meekness and forbearance. There would be no violent revolt or display of forceful opposition against his enemies. Christ’s work on earth would not be like that of a Jewish revolutionary (i.e., a Zealot) loudly rallying followers and using aggressive force to overthrow the Romans. This, I believe, is the meaning of the imagery of vv. 19-20, where we read that the Messiah would “not be brawling, nor clamoring, nor will anyone be hearing his voice in the squares.” The imagery of a “bruised reed” being “fractured” and a “smoldering flax” being “extinguished” can be understood as conveying a similar idea.

The state of affairs figuratively represented through this imagery was contrary to the expectations of most Jews (and even of Christ’s own disciples), who thought that the advent of the Messiah would immediately (or “instantly”) usher in the kingdom of God (Luke 19:11), put an end to all the injustice in the world, and liberate God’s people from the oppressive rule of unbelieving, pagan Gentiles. But there was much that had to take place – and much that Christ would have to do in fulfillment of prophecy – before this day of victory could come. And this brings us to the last part of Matthew 12:20, which begins with the little conjunction, “till.”

According to A.E. Knoch, the word translated “till” here (heōs) points out “the limit, usually of time.” Contrary to what PK theorists have mistakenly read into this passage, we aren’t being told that this peaceful, non-violent state of affairs would eventually lead to the “victory” in view here. Rather, the time during which Christ will be enduring with much forbearance the injustice in the world and the evil opposition of unbelievers (a forbearance which, again, characterized his earthly ministry) will continue “TILL he may put forth judgment to victory” (Young's) – with the word “till” marking a contrastive change in the state of affairs. In other words, the word “till” marks the end of the time during which the Messiah won’t be exercising judgment (as was the case during his earthly ministry), and the beginning of the time when he will be exercising judgment. As Paul declared in Acts 17:30-31, God has “fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed...”

Moreover, the word translated “put forth,” “send forth” or “cast out” in v. 20 is ekballō, which literally means “to eject.” It suggests a sudden and violent action, not a peaceful transition. The “judgment” (or “judging”) in view is going to be forcefully “put forth” (or “cast out”) into the world. And this judging will be “to (or “for”) victory” (eis nikos). That is, “victory” will be the end result of this judgment being “put forth.” But what is the “victory” in view here? I think the context in which this prophecy is found in Isaiah provides us with the answer. In Isaiah 42:13-14, we read,

“Yahweh goes out like a mighty man, like a man of war he stirs up his zeal; he cries out, he shouts aloud, he shows himself mighty against his foes. For a long time I have held my peace; I have kept still and restrained myself; now I will cry out like a woman in labor; I will gasp and pant.”

When understood in light of these verses, I think it can be reasonably inferred that the “victory” referred to in Matt. 12:20 will come when God – through the Man he has appointed – will no longer hold his peace and remain quiet, but will “show himself mighty against his foes.” That is, the time when Christ will be “casting out” (or “putting forth”) this “judgment to victory” will be during the coming “days of vengeance” which will precede and climax in Christ’s coming in power and glory to establish the kingdom of God on the earth – i.e., when Christ will be “seen a second time” (Heb 9:28). It is at this time – when Christ’s restraint and forbearance (as described in the previous part the prophecy quoted by Matthew) has come to an end – that God’s kingdom will “break in pieces” all other kingdoms and finally “fill the whole earth” (Dan 2:35, 44).

What’s next for Israel?

In another blog post in which the “pre-kingdom kingdom” theory is defended, Dan Sheridan wrote:  

“Many think the ‘Great Tribulation’ is what’s next for Israel. Israel has gone through hell on earth since the first century. Need I have to mention the persecutions that have befallen them? History declares! But these sufferings haven’t changed their attitude toward Christ. This won’t take place till the Lord shines on them from the heavens as He did with Paul.”

Dan went on to say, “The common teaching is that this “Great Tribulation” will be so horrible that it will finally bring Israel to their senses. But if the past 1900 years of terrible sufferings hasn’t changed their attitude there’s no evidence to suggest MORE suffering will open their eyes.”[4]

Dan’s argument is that God wouldn’t use affliction as a means of restoring Israelites to proper covenant relationship with himself, since many Israelites have gone through suffering in the past without this taking place (Dan doesn’t specify whether he believes God can’t or simply won’t do this). In response to this argument, let’s first assume that Dan is saying that God can’t use affliction as a means of restoring Israelites to proper covenant relationship with himself (which will involve repentance and faith in Christ). Of the two options (i.e., can’t vs. won’t), this is, of course, the weaker, and requires little to be said in response. Since there’s nothing incoherent or logically contradictory about the idea of God’s using affliction as a means of bringing about a positive change in people, there’s no reason to believe that God can’t do it.

Surely Dan is familiar with (and may have even experienced firsthand) the type of scenario in which one person undergoes a positive change while another person either remains relatively unchanged or is changed for the worse (perhaps becoming depressed or bitter) after going through the same or similar trial/affliction. The mere fact that affliction doesn’t always (or even typically) result in positive change for a person whenever it takes place simply means that God doesn’t always intend for it to have this result. It doesn’t mean that God can’t use affliction in this way. So I see no good reason to think that God can’t use affliction as a means of bringing about such a positive change for certain Israelites at a future time.

Now, I’m not exactly sure which teachers Dan had in mind when he described what he called “the common teaching.” In any case, it’s not my understanding that affliction, in and of itself, is to be the sole means by which God brings Israelites to repentance and faith in Christ. To affirm that trial and affliction will play an essential role in Israel’s being brought to repentance and faith in Christ does not mean believing that affliction alone will be sufficient to accomplish this. The mere fact that a time of great affliction is “what’s next for Israel” does not mean that there won’t be other factors involved in the bringing about of Israel’s restoration (such as, for example, the miraculous prophetic ministry of the “two witnesses” referred to in Revelation 11; see the following study for a more in-depth consideration of this subject: http://thathappyexpectation.blogspot.com/2019/05/the-timing-of-snatching-away-in_18.html).

But even if God can use affliction as a means of restoring a certain number of Israelites to proper covenant relationship with himself, do we have scriptural justification for believing that God will? I think so. And – strangely enough – Dan actually referenced a chapter from Ezekiel in which this very idea is taught. In Ezekiel 20:34-38, we read that God promised Israel:

“I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and with indignation poured out. And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will enter into judgment with you face to face. As I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will enter into judgment with you, declares the Lord Yahweh. I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant. I will purge out the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against me. I will bring them out of the land where they sojourn, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am Yahweh.

It is evident from the above passage that the fulfillment of God’s promise to bring Israel “into the bond of covenant” will involve some sort of affliction coming upon Israel, which will be the means by which God will separate “the rebels” and “those who transgress against me” from those Israelites whom God is going to save. Consider also the following passage from Zechariah, which (like the previous passage) also concerns the generation of Israelites who will be alive when the “day of the Lord” begins:  

“And it will come to be that in all the land [the land of Judea], averring is Yahweh, two divisions in it shall be cut off and shall decease. Yet the third shall be left in it. And I will bring the third into the fire. And I will refine them as silver is refined. And I will test them as gold is tested. It shall call in My Name, and I shall answer it. I will say, ‘My people is it.’ And it will say, ‘Yahweh is my Elohim.’ 

This future time is referred to as a time of “distress for Jacob” in Jeremiah 30:5-10, and will involve the discipline and punishment of Israel (“I will discipline you in just measure, and I will by no means leave you unpunished”) as well as the punishment of the nations through which Israel will be punished by God. And according to Zech. 13:8-9 and 14:1-4, this time of judgment will involve not only distress for those living in Jerusalem, but will also involve the majority of Israelites “in all the land” – i.e., “two divisions” or “two-thirds” - being “cut off” (killed). However, we’re also told that a remnant (“the third”) will be “refined” and “tested” (13:8-9). By means of this judgment upon Israel and the severe trials it will involve, God will not only punish Israel for their wickedness and unfaithfulness (resulting in the “cutting off” and “decease” of the majority), but he will also restore a remnant of Israelites to proper covenant relationship with himself. And based on the above prophesies, this restoration will undoubtedly involve some sort of affliction coming upon Israel prior to the return of Christ.

Dan’s second argument against the position that God will use affliction as a means of restoring Israel to proper covenant relationship with himself is that the means by which God will “open their eyes” and bring them to repentance and faith in Christ will resemble Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. Dan wrote:

“Saul of Tarsus, their pattern, is the example. If God had plunged Paul into a furnace of fire, terrible suffering, it wouldn’t have changed him one bit. What changed Paul? A great light from heaven and God speaking to him directly from heaven. As with Israel’s pattern so with Israel. The Tribulation isn’t on deck – a light from heaven is! God hasten it in its day!”

The key to Dan’s argument is that Paul is “[Israel’s] pattern” and “example.” Because Paul was brought to repentance and faith in Christ without going through a period of great affliction and “terrible suffering,” it follows (according Dan’s argument) that Israel’s experience will be similar. However, this argument suffers from the following fatal flaw: there’s simply no good reason to believe that Paul was Israel’s “pattern.” When Paul referred to himself as a pattern “of those who are about to be believing on Him for life eonian” (1 Tim. 1:12-16), he doesn’t say that those whom he had in view were those among the Circumcision (i.e., Israelites and proselytes). Although Paul certainly ministered to Israelites in the synagogues during his evangelical travels, Paul was not “the apostle of Israel.” Instead, Paul identified himself as the “apostle of the nations” (Rom. 11:13).

Nor was Paul a member of what he referred to as “the Israel of God” in Galatians 6:16 and “the remnant” in Rom. 11:5. Paul’s eonian destiny is not tied to the eonian destiny of Israel; rather, Paul was the first member of the body of Christ, and his eonian life will be enjoyed “among the celestials” and “in the heavens,” where Christ is presently located (2 Cor. 5:1, 8; Phil. 3:20-21; Eph. 1:3; 2:6-7). This being the case, we can conclude that Paul considered himself a pattern not of Israel but of those designated beforehand by God to become members of the body of Christ during this present administration of grace (which would include both Jews and – primarily – those among the nations).

For part two, click here: https://thathappyexpectation.blogspot.com/2020/01/a-refutation-of-pre-kingdom-kingdom_31.html




Note: Dan has, apparently, removed this article (and related articles) in which the quoted comments are found from his blog. Since this could mean that Dan no longer subscribes to the position he was trying to defend in the articles, my responses below should be understood solely as responses to the position that Dan was defending, and not a response to Dan himself (who, again, may or may not still subscribe to the position he was defending).