Category Archives: Eschatology (The Last Things)

Book of Daniel – a quick overview

The book of Daniel originated with the Hebrew prophet Daniel. He is the key figure throughout and so the manuscript belongs to about 536 BC. Some critics have wanted to place it around 160 BC because of their hesitancy about or even rejection of predictive prophecy. They think the events described in reference to the Greek empire are too precise to have been written beforehand. On the other hand, we know from the best of the Jewish books of the 2nd century BC that there was no true prophet among the Jews then (1 Maccabees 14), and the form of the Hebrew and Aramaic language of the book is certainly much earlier than the 2nd century.

The simple structure of the book should be noted. It is written in Hebrew except 2:4-7:28 which is written in Aramaic, the common language of those days, apparently because this section has special relevance to the nations. Chapters 1 to 6 are narrative in the 3rd person; chapters 7-12 are visions in the 1st person. However, note that the two parts are tied together both by the content and by the overlapping of Aramaic.

Ch 1: Daniel aged about 14 arrives in Babylon 605 BC

This chapter shows the loyalty of Daniel and his three friends to God despite all the pressures to conform. Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mould!

Ch 2: The Dream of the Image 602 BC

Four world empires which despite their varied forms are all of a piece, and are overthrown by a stone cut out without hands.

Gold: New Babylonian (605-539 BC)

Silver: Medo-Persian (539-331 BC)

Brass/bronze: Greek (331-168 BC)

Iron & clay: Roman and successors

Ch 3: The Golden Image

It looks like Nebuchadnezzar doesn’t want to reckon with a silver empire after his. His golden kingdom alone matters: he makes himself to be God (3:15), and indeed he was king by God’s decree. Yet God’s decree is no insurance for those who do not live responsibly toward the sovereign God. On the other hand, those who trust the living God know that, whatever happens, God makes everything work for their ultimate good. Who is that fourth person in the furnace?

Ch 4: The King’s Madness

Nebuchadnezzar was a man who couldn’t make up his mind. He died in 562 BC and prior to this suffered a period of madness [technical name: boanthropy] as described in this chapter so that he behaved like a beast without fully forgetting who he was.

Ch 5: Belshazzar’s Feast 539 BC

Strictly Nabonidus was king but other historical records tell us that he assigned royal functions to his son Belshazzar and lived in Arabia for 10 years. Thus Belshazzar promised Daniel the 3rd highest position in the kingdom if he could explain the writing on the wall (5:16).

Ch 6: Daniel in the Lion’s Den 537 BC

The precise identity of Darius the Mede (5:31) is still disputed; it could be the throne name for King Cyrus or the name of his personal representative in Babylon. The Persian empire, unlike the Babylonian, was a constitutional monarchy, hence the king was bound by the decree.

Ch 7 The Vision of the Four Beasts c 548

Note that the time of this chapter is earlier than chapters 5 and 6. Daniel has been in exile about 60 years but the future is not going to improve in the way he was thinking. There would be a long period of human empires followed by the Messianic kingdom which would not give special prominence to Israel and would involve trials and persecutions. This seems the explanation for Daniel’s troubled spirit (7:15). The parallels with the four metals in the image (chapter 2) are obvious:

Gold – Winged Lion – New Babylonian 605-539 BC

Silver – Bear – Medo/Persian 539-331 BC

Brass – Winged Leopard – Greek 331-168 BC

Iron & clay – Indescribable – Rome and successors

Note that “the little horn” rises from the 4th kingdom and persecutes for “a time, times and half a time”.

Ch 8 The Ram and Goat Vision

At 8:1 we switch back to Hebrew because the main message from here on relates to the position of God’s people. Note that “the little horn” rises from the 3rd (Greek) kingdom, persecutes God’s people and tramples the temple for 2300 days – something over 6 years. There is probably symbolism in the number, but the actions of Antiochus Epiphanes 175-168 undoubtedly are referred to. He desecrated the temple and had a mind to wipe out the Jews. The common verbal expressions in chapters 7 and 8 do not mean what is described in 8 is still future but that it provides in what occurs from the 3rd (Greek) kingdom an illustration of what will happen on a deeper level from the 4th (Roman) kingdom.

Ch 9 The Seventy Sevens Vision 538 BC

It is very important to appreciate the context in which this passage must be understood.

a. it expands on the outline of the future in chapters 7 and 8 but b. specifically (9:2) refers to Jeremiah 25:8-14 and 29:10 which speak about the 70 years of exile. 2 Chronicles 36:21 explains that the number of years of exile corresponded to the number of years the land had not enjoyed the sabbath it was due each seven years (Leviticus 25);  c. the prayer (9:3-19) is the prayer of one who knows the nation has lost the privileges of the covenant – the temple and sacrificial system, the city of Jerusalem and life in a land flowing with milk and honey because of covenant disobedience. “But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their fathers…I will remember by covenant….I will remember the land” (Leviticus 26:40ff).

The passage (9:20-27) tells us that the end of the 70 years of exile will introduce a new period of 70 units of seven. The exile was closed by Cyrus as God’s “Anointed One” (cf Isaiah 45:1) who allowed the Jews to return. The new period will be climaxed by the true Anointed One who will deal with the sin problem that had caused the exile in the first place. The 70 sevens is a complete and perfect period during which the perfect plan of God will be realised in effective dealing with sin and deliverance from sin’s bondage (v24) through Messiah’s death (v27) which causes God’s covenant to prevail. The end point of the 70 sevens is therefore the eternal sabbath, the goal of history. Notice the 3-fold division:

seven sevens – the city will be rebuilt but no 50th jubilee year follows (Lev 25:8-13) since true liberty will not follow the rebuilding of Jerusalem; this comes only with the Messiah.

sixty-two sevens – an odd or broken period as if to convey the idea that the period from the rebuilding until the coming of Christ (the first time) is uncertain to us, and a period which even with what has gone before is still incomplete.

one seven – the last seven is itself complete, a single seven. Like creation it suggests a new and complete work of God (cf Gen 1:1ff), but also completes the perfect plan of God (70 sevens). In the middle (not the end) of this seven Jerusalem is destroyed [which it was in AD 70] leaving three and one half to the end of history. This broken period is a symbol of the Christian dispensation – a period of trial and persecution but also a period which ends in triumph. [The same period is expressed as 42 months in Rev 11:2; 13:5 and 1260 days in Rev 11:3; 12:6.]

So Daniel learns that the city will be rebuilt but destroyed in order that God’s covenant may prevail through Messiah’s death so that its full benefits will be realised in the building of the spiritual temple and the establishing of the kingdom which will have no end. The earthly city/temple is not the key – Messiah is.

Ch 10 The Vision of a Man 536 BC

The time: after the overthrow of Babylon by Persia, and at the time (10:4) of the Passover (an earlier deliverance).

The key figure: a priest-king ruling in and through history; compare the description of Jesus in Rev 1:12ff.

The subject: the future of God’s people.

Ch 11 The Suffering of God’s People

vv 1-35: developments in the 3rd world kingdom

vv 36-45 more difficult – perhaps generalised description

Ch 12: Climax: Salvation/resurrection/judgment

Where is God in the troubles of Ch 11? But keep the perspective of chapters 10 and 12.

Some points to ponder:

1. The LORD has all authority over nations and individuals.

2. Mere human kingdoms are temporary, but Messiah’s kingdom is eternal.

3. The work of Messiah is the means by which this eternal kingdom comes.

4. God’s chosen ones inherit the kingdom only through tribulation.

5. The present calls for faithfulness to the LORD in a hostile environment.

6. The climax of world history is in God’s hands.

NB: There are difficult things in the Book of Daniel but don’t let them distract you from what is plain.

Jesus and the Future – Matthew 24

It helps to look at Matthew 24 Mark 13 and Luke 21 side by side. Luke writing for his Gentile friend Theophilus put Jewish language into a form understood by Gentiles.

(a) Prediction Mt 24:1-3; Mk 13:1-4; Lk 21:5-6

(b) Questions Mt 24:3; Mk 13:3-4; Lk 21:7

ANSWER

(c) General Warnings Characteristics of the Entire Future Mt 24:44-8; Mk 13:5-8; Lk 21:8-11

(d) Specific Counsel for the Disciples (Mt 24:9-14; Mk 13:9-13; Lk 21:12-19) [Note Lk 21:12 – “But before all this”) Persecution/opposition will come as a result of their preaching, Lk v.12.

(e)  The Destruction of Jerusalem (Mt 24:15-22; Mk 13:14-20; Lk 21:20-24) [Note Luke 21:22 – “To fulfill all that is written”] Flee when armies surround Jerusalem to be instruments of God’s judgement: the end is not coincident with Jerusalem’s overthrow.

(f) Renewed warnings for “after those days” (Mt 24:23-28; Mk 13:24-27)

Christ’s return will not be on earth to be seen by a few but in the heavens to be seen by all.

(g) The return of Christ in glory (Mt 24:19-21; Mk 13:24-27; Lk 21:25-28)

Occurs immediately ‘after the tribulation of those days’ (Mt) ie the inter-advent period, and men are powerless before Christ’s glory.

(h) Signs of destruction of Jerusalem – act on them (Mt 24:32-34; Mk 13:28-30; Lk 21:29-32)

(i) No chronological signs and no date for Christ’s return (Mt 24:35-36; Mk 13:31-32

(j) The nature & importance of watching for Christ’s return (Mt 24:37-51; Mk 13:33-37; Lk 21:34-36)

To watch is not to know dates but to live in a godly way. Christ’s return comes in a time unexpected, in the midst of normality, and after what seems like delay.

Book of Revelation: A quick overview

Updated 2.01.2010

The Book of Revelation involves recapitulation from different viewpoints of the period between the advents:

After the introduction showing us Christ in the midst of his church, and the tendencies in 7 churches which illustrate tendencies in the church of every age (chapters 2-3), we have the scene set for what follows by two chapters (4-5) which remind us who is controlling history and bringing God’s plan to realisation.

Then we have 7 seals which take us to the climax of history (6:1-8:1) the seals show the gospel going forth but also other forces which impact unbelievers; however believers, though they experience tribulation, are safe from eternal loss because they have God’s seal of ownership on them (ch 7). In all of this Jesus Christ reigns.

Next we have 7 warning trumpets (8:2-11:19) cover the same ground with judgments, in some respects reminding us of the plagues on Egypt at the time of the exodus, designed to bring the world into subjection to Christ. They are both physical and spiritual judgments. All flows from the prayers of the believers as they live in the world. Chapter 10:1-11:14 is an interlude corresponding to Chapter 7 showing the faithful witness of believers in the midst of unbelief. After a section which shows the woman and the dragon and the two beasts and the fall of Babylon (12-14), in which the persecuted church is protected by God,

we have the 7 bowls of God’s wrath (15-16) followed by a more elaborate description of Babylon’s overthrow (17:1-19:10).

I think 19:11 begins a new recapitulation giving a behind the scenes view of the present reign of Christ leading to the final judgement 20:10. This is a battle waged throughout history which involves the overthrow of Christ’s enemies. Chapters 21 and 22 show the blessed result in a New Jerusalem, a new heavens and earth where righteousness has its home.

Chapter 19 ends with the death of all Christ’s foes on earth, and chapter 20 begins by showing the binding of Satan for 1000 years and his release for a little time. As v4 shows, the believers who have died live and reign with Christ for 1000 years, so it seems the millennium must be the period between physical death and resurrection. Satan has no power over them but they live and reign with Christ. But this does not exclude the idea that the millennium is also the whole inter-advent period on earth during which Satan cannot prevent the Gospel going to the nations. But if we have Satan described as bound, it is only in these respects; he is still active on earth.

In order to have Satan out of the picture completely we have to have him back on the scene and then eliminated. I think this is what is meant by him being released ‘for a short time’ (v4) so as to deceive the nations and marshall opposition. But the last great battle is one sided: ‘fire came from heaven and devoured them’ (v9).

There remain questions about the interpretation of the passage which I cannot answer, but the final victory is sure.

A summary of the Bible’s teaching about the future

1. The LORD has all authority over nations and individuals.
2. Mere human kingdoms are temporary, but Messiah’s kingdom is eternal.
3. The work of Messiah is the means by which this eternal kingdom comes.
4. God’s chosen ones inherit the kingdom only through tribulation.
5. The present calls for faithfulness to the LORD in a hostile environment.
6. The climax of world history is in God’s hands.

 

FURTHER NOTES ON THE BOOK OF REVELATION

Is Revelation essentially about the future or is it about what already has begun and will reach its final climax in the future?

 

Daniel 2:28-30 Revelation 1:1-3, 19
28 but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come. Your dream and the visions that passed through your mind as you lay on your bed are these:

29 “As you were lying there, O king, your mind turned to things to come, and the revealer of mysteries showed you what is going to happen. 30 As for me, this mystery has been revealed to me, not because I have greater wisdom than other living men, but so that you, O king, may know the interpretation and that you may understand what went through your mind.

 

45 This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.
“The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future [the latter days]. The dream is true and the interpretation is trustworthy.”

46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him honour and ordered that an offering and incense be presented to him. 47 The king said to Daniel, “Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery.”

1The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known [signified it] by sending his angel to his servant John, 2who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 3Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

 

 

19“Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later [after these things].

 

Daniel 2:29,45 (LXX) “in the latter days” = “after these things” in Theodotion’s translation.

Joel 3:1 “after this” (LXX);  Acts 2:17 “in the latter days”

Some conclusions:

1. In Daniel God is revealer of things to come “in the latter days”.

2. In Revelation 1 there are a number of words which hark back to Daniel 2, and suggest that it is in this context we should understand Revelation.

3. In Revelation 1 there are subtle changes. What was still future in Daniel is now underway in Revelation.

4. The “things which you have seen” (1.19) are the things John saw in the earlier verses.

5. The “things which are” are the things evident in the churches already.

6. The things which take place “after these things” refers to the era which the Old Testament called “the latter days”, that is, it does not refer to the very end of history in terms of historical time, but it refers to the beginning of the fulfillment of “the latter days”.

7. It is not that tribulation, the defeat of evil and the final coming of the kingdom are simply in the (far off) future, and are merely thought of as near or coming soon in the perspective of prophecy, but that as a result of the death and resurrection of Christ the final tribulation, the defeat of evil and the final coming of the kingdom of God is already underway.

8. Hence the many references to Old Testament prophecies already being fulfilled:

Christ is already ruling the nations (1:5) as the Son of man (1:7 compare Daniel 7:13).

NUMBERS IN REVELATION

Numbers carry a lot of symbolism in Revelation:

7            A number of completeness – example: God’s work of creation in Genesis 1:1-2:3

see Psalm 79:2 for another example

seven churches – seven golden lampstands – seven stars – seven spirits of God (1:4; 4:5; 5:6) – seven seals, seven trumpets, seven bowels – thunders speak (10:3) – hills (17:9) plagues – horns etc. – 7000 killed (11:13)

also 7 beatitudes (1:3; 14:13; 16;15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7; 22:14)

also 7 misunderstandings (1:17; 5:5; 7:14; 10:4; 17:6; 19:10; 22:9)

also 7 attributes of God (5:12; 78:12)

also 7 marks of the locusts (9:7-10)

there appears also be 7 large sections to the book.

4            A number of completeness – north, south, east and west, the 4 corners of the earth

four corners (7:1; 20:8) – four winds (7:1), four angels, four living creatures

10            A number of completeness in the decimal system

ten days of persecution (2.10); ten horns of dragon; ten horns and ten crowns of beast (13:1;17:3,7,12,16); a tenth of the city (11:13);

12             A number of completeness – the twelve tribes forming one nation, unity in diversity

12×12=144,000 complete and vast number

12 stars, 12 angels, 12 tribes, twelve, gates, foundations in new Jerusalem with measurement of 12,000 stadia (21:16)

A special period

time, times & half a time

– time of evil domination over God’s people (Daniel 7:25; 12:7)

– period church is nourished by God in the desert (12:14)

42 months [@30 days each 3.5 years/1260 days]

–       period the Gentiles trample down outer court/holy city (11:2)

–    period of the authority of the beast (13:5)

1260 days

– period the two witnesses prophesy (11:3)

– period church is nourished by God in the desert (12:6)

OT background

1. Elijah prayed it might not rain 3.5 years (Kings 17:1, James 5:17)

2. There was a literal period of 3.5 years when Antiochus Epiphanes desecrated the temple (167-164 BC) – the little horn in Daniel 8 that arises from the third (Greek) kingdom.

This provides an illustration what will happen on a deeper level in the little horn in Daniel 7 from the fourth kingdom (Rome & successors) which persecutes for ‘a time, times and half a time’.

NT reference : Jerusalem to be trodden down until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled

Contrast: three and a half days of seeming defeat for God’s people (11:9,11)

SUGGESTED STRUCTURE OF THE BOOK OF REVELATION

Note:

Interlocking sections – rich symbolism with constant OT allusions

Contrasts: eg. The scarlet woman/ Babylonian prostitute with the woman clothed with the sun/the pure bride/New Jerusalem

Frequent recapitulation of the period between ascension and the return of Christ

Movement from the church imperfect in the world to the church perfect in glory

Message: (a) Stand faithful and firm in a hostile environment – the victory is certain in Christ;

(b) God will receive glory for his salvation and his judgments.

Prologue 1:1-8

(1) 7 churches preceded by vision of Christ 1:9-3:22

The church imperfect in this world

(2) 7 seals preceded by vision of God’s throne/Christ 4:1-8:1

  • interlude 7:1-17 – God’s sealed servants

(3) 7 trumpets 8:2-11:1            (answer to the plea for judgment 6:9-11)

  • plague on earth  Ex 9:22ff
  • plague on sea Ex 7:17ff
  • plague on rivers Ex 7:17fff
  • plague on sun Ex 10:21ff
  • plague on realm of wicked/darkness Ex 10:4ff
  • plague on Euphrates/demonic
  • plague on world (last judgment) Ex 9:22 & 19:16-19
  • interlude 10:1-11:14 – the true people of God and their testimony

(4) 7 signs 12:-14:20; 15:2       (the deeper conflict)

  • conflict of the serpent with the woman and her children 12
  • persecution by the beast from the sea 13:1-10
  • persecution by the beast from the earth 13:11-18
  • the Lamb and the 144,000 14:1-5
  • the gospel and judgment proclaimed by three angels 14:6-13
  • the harvest of the earth by the Son of man 14:14-20
  • the saints victory 15:2-4

(5) 7 bowls 15:1-16:21

  • the woes expounded – the ultimate Exodus
  • note bowl judgments parallel trumpets but are more intense

(6) Close up of the judgment of Babylon and the Beasts & Devil 17:1-21:15

  • Babylon’s fall announced 17
  • Babylon’s fall elaborated 18:1-19:10
  • Christ’s final judgment 19:11-21
  • Millennial blessing for believers – Satan bound in certain limited sense – so that Gospel reaches nations not just Israel as in OT (cf. Ch 12, totally excluded from heavenly influence because of Christ’s resurrection), the 10 day trial (cf.2:10) of the saints results in millennial reign in heaven of dead believers (termed first resurrection) 20:1-6
  • Final judgment of 19:11-21 recapitulated 20:7-15 (devil reintroduced on stage only to be eliminated).

(7) The Church perfected in the new creation 21:1-22:5

Epilogue 22:6-21

Israel and the Church – Romans 9-11

‘AND IN THIS WAY ALL ISRAEL SHALL BE SAVED’ – Rom 11:26

Updated 15/7/2010

Two views about Israel

One of the much debated issues among Christians is the significance of Israel in the purposes of God.

On the one hand there are those who insist that Israel and the Church should be sharply distinguished. Old Testament passages referring to the future glory of Israel must be referred only to the nation, and similarly in the New Testament. The church is seen as a distinct provision of God, even a kind of alternative operation arising because of the unbelief of Israel in the time of Jesus. Ultimately, it is held, God will restore Israel as a people at the last minute and fulfil the ancient promises. This view, usually called dispensational, is commonly associated with the idea of a literal reign of Christ from Jerusalem during the millennium, and great interest in supposedly unfulfilled prophecies, and finds confirmation in the return of many Jews to Palestine in 1948. A variation not uncommon in liberal circles in Europe and elsewhere, perhaps contributed to by a sense of guilt for past injustice to Jewish people, is content simply to say that the Jews are God’s special people, and they will be OK in the end without need for faith in Jesus.

On the other hand, there are those who accept in one form or another the majority view that the ancient promises to Israel are fulfilled in and through the church of Jesus Christ as the Israel of God. This position understands the fulfilment of the ancient promises is not a slavish, literalistic one. Rather, the distinctive institutions of Israel (sacrificial system, organization as a kingdom etc.) provide a portrayal on an earthly level of what is to be fulfilled in a greater and more wonderful way by the Messiah. The way Old Testament texts are used in the New Testament is held to confirm this approach.

The question then arises, ‘Is there any place for ethnic Israel in the purposes of God in the age begun by Jesus’ resurrection?’

Seeking understanding

The key passage in the debate is the meaning of the expression ‘and so all Israel will be saved’ in Romans 11:26. Perhaps a majority say ‘all Israel’ is the nation although not necessarily every individual (eg. C. Hodge, J.Murray, C.E.B.Cranfield); some say it is the elect remnant from the nation (eg. R.C.H.Lenski, W.Hendriksen, H. Ridderbos), and others (eg. J.Calvin, K.Barth, N.T.Wright) say it is the church consisting of believing Jews and Gentiles. The issue is complicated by the apparent ambiguity of the words translated ‘and so’: they could be taken as meaning ‘and in this way’ or they could be taken as meaning ‘and then’. Obviously we have to look at the context.

As regards the overall Biblical context, I take it as undeniable that the OT anticipates the work of Christ by utilising the events and institutions of Israel to point forward to the true fulfilment of them in Christ. For example, Jesus is greater than Moses and greater than Cyrus. On the mount of transfiguration Moses and Elijah spoke with Jesus about the coming ‘departure’ (Luke 9:30; lit. exodus) Jesus was to accomplish at Jerusalem, thus reminding us that that was at the heart of the OT. If Cyrus, the typical Messiah (Isaiah 45:1), set the captives in Babylon free so that they might build the city and the temple in Jerusalem, Jesus, the true Messiah, delivers his people from sin’s bondage that they might form a holy temple and the city of God, the New Jerusalem.

The New Testament sees the inclusion of the Gentiles in the church as the enlarging of David’s fallen tent (Acts 15:14-17). The true Israel of God is the believing remnant of national Israel to which the believing Gentiles are added. It is an expansion of the true Israel, not a replacement. It is an expansion already anticipated in the OT in the Abrahamic promise, and in many prophecies.

Paul regards the fact that God has appointed the Gentiles to be heirs together with Israel, members together in one body, as the ‘mystery’ of Christ (Eph 3:1-6). The word ‘mystery’ doesn’t mean a riddle we must solve, but something that is hidden from clear view until revealed by God. The mystery is that the glory of Israel promised for the last days is fulfilled in the gathering of Jew and Gentile in one body on an equality of status and privilege.

Romans

Coming now to Romans, we need to appreciate that chapters 9-11 are not a kind of appendix to ‘the gospel as the power of God for salvation’ in chapters 1-8, an appendix which we can pass over as we move to the ‘practical’ teaching in chapters 12-16. Rather chapters 9-11 build on the teaching about salvation already given to show that the result of God’s saving purposes is the building of the true Israel promised.

Jews were a very significant proportion of the population of the Roman Empire – 10% or more overall. It was only a short while before that Jews had been allowed back to Rome following their expulsion in AD 49 (Acts 18:2), and the Roman Christians didn’t seem to have a sound understanding of their true position vis-a-vis the Jews. They might be tempted to think of themselves as God’s favourites (11:19-21), so doing what most Jews had done. They might think that the Jews were now written out of God’s purposes altogether. A better theology would need to prevail for evangelism to truly demonstrate the reconciling power of the gospel among all nations.

In Chapter 9:6 Paul distinguishes believing Israelites from unbelieving: ‘not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.’ He insists that physical descent from Abraham does not make one a true member of God’s family. Ultimately, it is God’s gracious election that is at work among sinful people. Salvation is not by human achievement, but through the instrumentality of faith in Christ. God did not reject Israel but always saved a remnant chosen by grace, and that fact remained true in Paul’s day (11:1-6).

Rather, bringing salvation to Gentiles was designed to provoke Israel to seek the blessings believing Gentiles enjoyed (11:11). Paul himself hoped his Gentile ministry might arouse some Jews and save some of them. He reminds the Gentile believers that they were supported by the olive root of the patriarchs (cf. 9:5; 11:28). They had been grafted in as wild branches. This is a further reminder of the historic continuity between faithful Israel and the believing church.

Paul says a number of things concerning unbelieving Israel:

11Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.12But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fulness bring! 13I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry 14in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. 15For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 161f the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches. (NIV)

1. Paul emphasises that the Jews are not completely written off. The firstfruits, the faithful patriarchs, mean God has in some sense set apart those descended from them for the fulfilment of his saving purposes.

2. The blessings which come through Israel’s transgression are salvation for the Gentiles, riches for the world, for Gentiles. The prophets speak of the wealth/people of the Gentiles entering into Zion (eg. Isa 60:10-12; Rev 21:24-26), and there seems an allusion to this.

3. The ‘fulness’ (v12) refers to Jews who come to faith. It contrasts with the ‘transgresssion’ and ‘loss’ of the majority of Israel through unbelief, and it appears to be equivalent to ‘acceptance’ in v15. The word translated ‘fulness’ may have the idea of a full recovery or a full number. However, it is not a fulness that belongs simply to the future. It is a fulness to which Paul himself aims to contribute to now, rather than merely a last days large-scale conversion of Jews. It is a fulness that is always according to God’s gracious election and in the way of faith, as Paul has explained at length from Chapter 9:1 onwards.

4. The blessings associated with Israel’s ‘fulness’ are ‘much greater riches’ (v12) or ‘life from the dead’ (v15). It is sometimes said that the first expression implies that the fulness of Israel will result in a more extensive in-gathering of Gentiles. However that is an inference not required by the context, and is seemingly contradicted by the ‘fulness’ of the Gentiles (v25) having already come in before the ‘fulness’ of Israel. It is sufficient to recognise significant spiritual blessings are indicated, blessings which impact on Gentile believers as well, when Israel’s fulness is in.

5. The expression ‘life from the dead’ might well remind us of the way in which God recovered his people from the exile, breathing life into what seemed dead by the power of his Spirit (Ezekiel 37 – the valley of dry bones). God could effect a more general conversion of ethnic Israel in the future too. But perhaps the expression really refers to the climax of God’s purposes with Jew and Gentile in the resurrection and the perfection of the New Jerusalem which follows it; ‘much greater riches’ indeed and ‘life from the dead’ quite literally.

6. The Gentile believers also needed to appreciate that Israel’s hardening in unbelief was not total but only partial and would continue ‘until’ the fulness of the Gentiles was brought in (v25). This says nothing about the proportion of Jews hardened at any particular period, only that it is not total, ‘and God can graft them in again’, nor does it imply they’ll not be hardened after that.

7. The fulness of the Gentiles (v25) ‘come in’ (that is, into the olive tree of Israel cf. Jer 11:16) through conversions in the course of history, not by some last-minute mass conversion. There is no imperative reason that we should understand the fulness of the Jews any differently. If the partial hardening of Israel ends when the fulness of the Gentiles comes in so as to allow Israel’s mass conversion, we are left with the strange idea of an historical period of largely Gentile accessions to God’s people being succeeded by one in which it is exclusively Jews (since the ‘fullness’ of the Gentiles has already come in).

8. Paul reminds the Roman believers that they are not some replacement for Israel or even a parallel separate development, but they are vitally connected to Israel and beneficiaries of the covenant God made with Abraham (cf. Rom 4). They have been grafted in to the olive tree of God’s covenant people. They are part of the true Israel of faith, but they can’t have mercy without ethnic Israel any more than Israel can have mercy apart from the Gentiles. All have been bound over to disobedience so that all may receive mercy (v32). Blindness in part has happened to Israel after the flesh, but in the course of history the fulness of Gentile and Jew will come in, and ‘in this way all Israel will be saved’ (v26).

Conclusion

I conclude that Israel in Romans 11:26 is a name for the expanded spiritual Israel, the church as the covenant people of God, rather than the nation. The view expressed does not exclude conversion of large numbers from the Jewish people in the course of history, and it ties in with the distinction made in Romans 9:6 that the true Israel is believers.

Earlier, to the Galatians, Paul had written, ‘If you are Christ’s you are Abraham’s children’ (Gal 3:29) and belong to ‘the Israel of God’ (Gal 6:16). To the Philippians he will soon write that believers are ‘the true circumcision’ (Phil 3:3). There is no principial reason why Paul cannot use ‘Israel’ in Rom 11:36 for the glorified church – the fulness of Christ (Eph 1:20), the expanded Zion promised by the prophets. I believe that’s exactly what he does.

Stephen Voorwinde’s article, ‘How Jewish is Israel in the New Testament?’ in Reformed Theological Review, 67.2 (August 2008) 61-90 is somewhat disappointing. Voorvinde rightly rejects a bald ‘replacement’ theology in favour of an ‘engrafting’ theology but does not draw out its implications given the teaching of both Old and New Testaments that ‘they are not all Israel who are of Israel’, that they are true Jews who worship Jesus as Lord (Phil 3:3; Rev 2:9) and that the family of God is one across the testaments. How he can consistently deal with OT prophecies concerning Israel which the NT shows as fulfilled in the church is also not clear. For a more nuanced reading on this question see George W. Knight III in Robert L. Penny (ed.), The Hope Fulfilled – Essays in Honour of O. Palmer Robertson (P & R, 208) 82-108. For the main issue of the meaning of ‘all Israel’ in Romans 11:26 note the robust argument for spiritual Israel in N.T.Wright, The Climax of the Covenant (T & T Clark, 1991) 231-257.

To the spiritual Israel of Jewish Christian beginnings is engrafted believing Gentiles who together form the expanded Israel of God, the rebuilt tent of David now welcoming the Gentiles (Acts 15:16-17) and having accessions from ethnic Israel too, for God’s ancient people are not utterly cut off (Rom 11). The Gospel is to be preached to both Jew and Gentile, and ‘in this way all Israel shall be saved’.

The Man of Sin

[From The Banner of Truth, December 1977, pp26-32]

Rowland S. Ward

Recent years have seen a considerable resurgence of support for the eschatological views of our Reformed and Puritan fathers. However, it is probably true to say that ‘the man of sin’ passage in 2 Thessalonians remains a difficulty with many. This article aims to give an historical introduction to the interpretation of the passage together with a suggested approach to its exposition.

HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION

In the early centuries of the Christian church it was generally held that the working of antichrist was to be seen in heresy [1 John 2.18-22] but that antichrist proper was equivalent to the man of sin and was an individual – possibly a Jew – destined to overthrow the Roman Empire and establish a wicked and tyrannical rule which would be quickly overthrown by the return of Christ. Some regarded ‘the restrainer’ as the Holy Spirit but it was more usually taken as the ordered rule of Roman law. Some [Irenaeus] held that ‘the temple of God’ in 2 Thess 2.4 was a restored Jewish temple which would become the centre of antichrist’s activity, but others said ‘not in Jerusalem alone but in every church’ [John Chrysostom].

In the Middle Ages some adjustment was made to earlier ideas in line with the changed circumstances in church and state, but antichrist was still generally held to come from outside the church. The first to [indirectly] suggest a papal identification was Pope Gregory [590-604] who, in writing against the Eastern patriarch, called the title of Universal Priest ‘the name of blasphemy’. In the 7th century the Eastern church saw ‘the lawless one’ in the rise and spread of Islam and the falling away of much of Eastern Christendom. In the later Middle Ages the extension of papal power saw various revolts and protests against the Roman see, and the idea of an apostasy within the church gained ground. The German emperors of the Hohenstaufen dynasty, as well as such pre-reformation men as Huss and Wickliff, made this papal identification.

The Reformation brought the recovery of the authority of Scripture and led to the more or less universal adoption among Protestants of the view that the man of sin was not a single individual but an institution or organized power which had its rise in the church after the initial restraint on the bishop of Rome by the Emperor declined. The antichrists of 1 John were regarded as forerunners of the papacy because activated by the same spirit, but the clear conviction of the Protestants of the 16th and 17th centuries was that the predicted antichrist or man of sin was most fully and clearly expressed in the Papal system as represented in the Pope. They believed the Reformation to be a decisive blow against the man of sin and, whilst his final overthrow would await the coming of Christ, God would yet do more to scatter the darkness of antichrist by the triumphs of the gospel of his grace.
Writing in 1556 in his Commentary on 1 John 2:18, John Calvin observed: ‘. . .Under the Papacy there is nothing more well known and common than the future coming of antichrist; . . . The Papists have imagined an antichrist who is to harass the church for three and a half years. All the marks by which the Spirit of God has pointed out antichrist appear clearly in the Pope; but their triennial antichrist has such a hold on the foolish Papists that seeing they do not see.’ This futurist view rejected by the Reformers was elaborated and advocated by the Jesuit theologian Bellarmine [1542-1621] as a counter to the damaging force of the Reformers’ teaching. Another Jesuit, Alcasar [1554-1613] [1614], promoted the view that the prophecies were to be applied exclusively to the early period of persecution under the Roman Empire.

Until the 19th century century most Protestants held to the Reformation teaching, but since then considerable divergence of opinion has occurred. No less an exegete than B. B. Warfield held that the man of sin passage was fulfilled in the early persecutions, while William Hendriksen is a strong advocate of a future personal antichrist.

INTERPRETATION OF 2 THESSALONIANS 2

Paul’s concern in this passage is to warn the brethren of the dangers involved in the situation following the diffusion of the gospel by the first Christians. In the first letter he assumed they understood his oral teaching which included particulars of events even then developing which would affect the church before the return of Christ. He therefore summed up the question of the times and seasons in a few words which they knew perfectly well already: the coming of Christ will be sudden and un-announced like a thief in the night [1 Thess 5.2].

However, through ignorance and imperfect recollection, as well as deliberate deception by some [2 Thess 2.2], Paul’s written teaching was set against his oral teaching, and the view gained currency that no apostasy was to ensue before the return of Christ. Some were saying that the day of the Lord was come, that is, that it was upon them, as if the church was not to experience apostasy first. Hence confusion and doubt which not only brought the apostolic authority into question but which could lead to the damnation of members of the church through their failure to be vigilant in regard to an apostasy whose nature was such as to affect them personally. Hence the second letter in which an outline of the previously given oral teaching is recorded.

1. Some preliminary considerations.

a. If Paul is writing about certain events which are to occur in a short period just prior to the return of Christ, it does not seem possible to reconcile 2 Thess 2 with 1 Thess 5, although 2 Thess 2 was written to clear up just such an apparent discrepancy! How could Paul sum up the matter of times and seasons by stating that the Lord comes like a thief if, in fact, there are preceding and clear signs to believers by which we may know more or less in which watch our Lord comes?

b. The previous paragraph is reinforced by the reason given by Paul for the fact that the day of the Lord will not overtake believers as a thief [1 Thess 5.4], namely, that they are sons of light, alert and sober, and not that they are aware of special signs indicating Christ’s coming. The man who does not suffer irreparable loss at the coming of the Lord is the man with a spiritual qualification not an intellectual one! That is to say, the humble saint who serves his Saviour will not suffer loss, whereas the man who specializes in charts and calculations is not safe unless he too is found faithfully serving the Master. Watching is necessary because the time of Christ’s return is not known, but it consists in discharging the responsibilities laid upon us as Christ’s servants, not in gazing out the window or poring over prophetical speculations.

c. One cannot avoid the feeling that the futuristic interpretation breaks the connection of the passage with the Thessalonian Christians. Yet, clearly Paul regarded the revelation in the passage as of such a nature as to be relevant to the Thessalonians themselves. They needed to be clear on it because of the danger of damnation.

d. Those who say that the man of sin belongs to the period at the very end of time point especially to verse 8. They argue that there is a close connection in time between the appearance of the man of sin and Christ’s return. Therefore he or it has not yet appeared and in any event is basically an individual antagonist of Christ rather than a movement of heresy in history. That there is a connection between the man of sin and Christ’s coming is clear; that it is a close connection in time is not so clear, of which more shortly.

2. The man of sin

Paul writes that ‘the mystery of lawlessness’ is already at work but is restrained, verse 7. The removal of the restrainer will reveal ‘the man of sin’ or, if you prefer, ‘the man of lawlessness’ [There is no essential difference in the readings since sin is lawlessness, 1 John 3.4]. In other words, when Paul wrote about 51 AD the true character of the lawless one was not yet properly expressed. It was hidden, a mystery. When it is revealed it comes into focus, as it were, and our eyes see ‘the man of lawlessness’. The description is intensely personal and some have there-fore concluded that a particular individual is referred to. But I think this is a mistake.

The doctrine of the last things should not be thought of as a mere appendage to our faith but as closely integrated with the redeeming work of Christ and to our present living as believers. The consummation will bring about the public unveiling of what Christ has achieved for his people, and therefore there can be no greater danger to professing Christians than to have the exclusive mediatorship of Christ obscured, blurred or even absent from their faith. If they fall from grace Christ will not profit them. They will be condemned as lawless, not justified as righteous.
This scene of time is the stage on which is fought out the conflict between Christ and Satan [cf. Rev 12.13]. The description of the man of sin emphasizes that there is to arise a deceitful enemy opposed to Christ, an enemy, represented in individual people, but basically soul-destroying heresy propagated under the guise of friendship to Christ. The personal nature of the description serves to emphasize the real source of the deception in the arch-enemy himself who oversows the good seed with tares. We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers.

The lawless one is described as ‘Opposing and exalting himself above everything that is called God or is worshipped, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God displaying himself as being God’. This language reflects Daniel 11.36ff and is in the prophetic style which describes things according to their reality. It is quite wrong to conclude that the lawless one is literally an atheist who deifies himself, but take it spiritually and it is the sober truth. Heresy that is damning is the result of believing the liar and following the one who claims the allegiance due to God and who hates Christ with a malicious hatred.

Notice that the man of sin is not said to engage in battle by military might or political power. These means are not necessarily excluded from his operations but his primary task is spiritual deception so that those who believe him are damned. A Hitler or a Mao is not a danger to Christians in the same way as one who uses Christ’s name as if a friend but takes away what properly belongs to him. Like Judas Iscariot this arch-deceiver is called ‘the son of destruction’, a Semitic expression derived from Ps 41.9 or Ps 109.4-13; cf. John 17.12. It conveys the idea of the ultimate destiny of a professed friend who is really an enemy.

3. The apostasy

The man of lawlessness is able to carry out his work because of a falling away or apostasy, verse 3. His activities result in the deception of those who did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved, verse 10. Clearly this apostasy is of a religious character concerning the Jews, Christians or both. The apostasy provides the Opportunity for the open Operations of the man of sin. There seems no reason to think of the lawless one as anything other than the apostasy from Christ viewed as organized.

The apostasy is represented as taking possession of the church and holding well-nigh universal sway. This development corresponds to the decline in belief of saving truth and so is all the more deceptive. True servants of Christ must stand firm and hold to the apostolic tradition [2 Thess 2.15].

Paul warned the Ephesian elders against the grievous wolves which he knew would come among the flock. He knew that apostasy would be led by some of the elders of the church [Acts 20.29-30]. False apostles were a trial [2 Cor 11.13-15] while 1 Timothy 4.1ff notes that the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away [lit. apostatize] from the faith by making holiness a matter of external observance. Paul describes this as the teaching of deceiving spirits and demons because it means that the faith of Christ is abandoned however much his person is recognized. The Apostle Peter bears a similar testimony. In 2 Peter 2.1 he records that just as it was a characteristic of a former time for false prophets to arise, so it will be a characteristic of the Christian dispensation that false teachers will arise in the church, stealthily introducing soul-destroying heresies – even denying the Master who bought them. Many will follow these sensual teachers, he says.

In this light the significance of Peter’s earlier words is obvious. He had written that he would be diligent to ensure that after his death the truth he had taught would be preserved for their guidance [2 Peter 1.15 and perhaps Mark’s Gospel]. He contrasts his personal recollection of Jesus with the more sure prophetic word [2.19], and places Paul’s letters in the same category as the Old Testament Scriptures [3.16].

4. The restraint

The restrainer is referred to both as a something [v. 6] and a someone [v. 7], that is, a principle or power involving personal agency. The common view [going back to Tertullian c 200 AD] is that the principle of well ordered human rule is meant, as in the Roman Empire. If lawless-ness is restrained, how else than by law? However, this view has real force only if we regard the man of lawlessness as a revolutionary, anarch-istic movement of a political kind. I have already suggested that his character is more in the spiritual and religious realm. The man of law-lessness might be very insistent upon law although a subverter of God’s law. What then is the restraint?

I am impressed with a minority view which goes back through John Calvin to Theodore of Mopsuestia [c 350-428], and which holds that the gospel proclamation is the restraining agency. This would fit the context well. During the period up to the siege of Jerusalem in 66 AD Christ prevented the activity of Satan from utterly obscuring the truth but caused it to be proclaimed by the apostles to the whole world [cf Matt 24.14]. But within a few years Jerusalem was destroyed, the temple razed, ‘and the world’s obstinacy rose up against God’ [Calvin on Matt 24.34]. Apostasy in the church became evident. The tares in God’s field [Matt 13.38 – ‘the world’] were everywhere prevalent. At this point everything which was to be a factor in the time before the return of Christ was in operation. No events of some basically different kind were to arise. Christ and the glorious manifestation of the kingdom was not far from the doors but at them [cf Matt 24.33, Luke 21.31], i.e. Christ’s coming was the next event in the redemptive programme.

5. The destruction of the man of sin

How and when is the destruction of the apostasy to be accomplished? Certain it is that the ultimate elimination of Satan’s power awaits the coming of Christ, verse 8. Now, as I have rejected the conception of the man of sin as an individual it seems most probable that the slaughter with the breath of Christ’s mouth’ is a dispossessing of Satan’s power over men enmeshed in false Christianity by the renewed proclamation of the gospel. The original context of the words in Isaiah 11.4 favours this understanding of Christ ruling in the midst of his enemies. If this inter-pretation is not accepted then it could be said that the passage gives no information on the overthrow of the lawless one except that judgement and utter destruction come at the consummation.

But it does not follow that there is a close connection in time between the appearance of the man of sin and Christ’s coming, since it cannot be proved that the connection of the words serves more than an ethical purpose in keeping the reader in mind of the ultimate fate of the lawless one, just as Peter refers to the swift destruction which will come upon the false teachers without thinking in temporal terms [2 Peter 2.1ff].

CONCLUSION

The conclusion of our study of the man of sin passage is that apostasy in the church was predicted by Paul as by the other apostles. There is also no doubt that this apostasy has had its most subtle and powerful organization in the Western church dominated by the see of Rome. We may not say that the man of sin is exhausted in the papacy for he is found wherever the professed people of God do not receive the word of truth in truth, but nor may we scoff at a papal identification. The horror which the Reformers experienced at the profanation of the church of Christ is too often missed today because the glory of our blessed God and Saviour is dim to our eyes. The manifestation of evil in the guise of good is a danger to which the church is constantly subject and therefore she must constantly be on guard, always measuring her life and testimony by the Scriptures.

Although we find the language in the man of sin passage a little strange yet I cannot help observing that the form of expression used is very significant and full of meaning hard to convey in any other way. In standing for the truth and exercising constant watchfulness in a dangerous environment we are not only delivered from the many speculations on unfilled prophecy, but are assured that in our everyday life and testimony we are engaged in the overthrow of those principalities and powers which lead men captive, and which will be destroyed completely at the coming of Christ.

Finally, if there is a formal distinction between the ‘many antichrists’ of 1 John and Paul’s ‘man of sin’, it is that the former has reference more to those heretical movements which split off from the church, while the latter is the development of the same spirit of error within the pro-fessing church. On the Johannine passages B. B. Warfield has a very interesting article in Selected Shorter Writings, Vol I, 1970, p 356ff.

A Millennial Kingdom?

Notes by Dr Rowland Ward from The Westminster Confession of Faith: A Study Guide,

pp. 270-272 (in 2006 expanded edition)

At several periods of church history the view has been quite widely advocated that Christ returns to set up a millennial kingdom of 1,000 years based at Jerusalem, the end of which will be closed by an apostasy and the general resurrection and last judgement. The 1,000 years of Revelation 20 is identified with this earthy reign of Christ. This approach had some followers in the second century and later, in the 17th century (chiefly among the Fifth Monarchy men), and from about 1830 with the rise of the Brethren movement. Its roots lie in a literalistic approach to Scripture promises, and pessimism about the church in its present form. The Old Testament promises seem to have had inadequate fulfilment, and a future millennium is projected during which they will be fully and literally fulfilled.

Difficulties in the pre-millennial approach include:
(1) A failure to grasp that the Old Testament kingdom was a prefiguring of the realities to come in Christ, just as were the sacrifices of the Mosaic law. The New Testament is emphatic that Jesus has succeeded to the true throne of David (Acts 2:30ff) which is in heaven and that a rebuilding of earthly Jerusalem as the centre of Jesus’ reign is not to be thought of, nor a restoration of the temple and sacrificial system.
(2) Sundry disharmonious elements exist including, placing a cluster of events as chronological indicators near the end; the necessity of a resurrection of some believers at the beginning of the millennium and others at the close, thus breaking up the general resurrection; the mingling of glorified saints and unglorified persons; and the problem of what actually is achieved during the millennium with which is connected the nature and basis of salvation during it.
(3) In the form of dispensationalism, which had significant impact on American evangelicals from 1870 to 1970, many additional complications arise of which it is not necessary to speak here.

Two other approaches are known as post-millennialism and a-millennialism. Post millennialism means Christ comes after a future period (not necessary a literal 1,000 years) during which the church will know considerable blessing and revival. A-millennialism accepts the passage in Revelation, but interprets it as the period between the ascension and the return of Christ when Satan is bound sufficiently so as to ensure the spread of the gospel among the nations.

Post and pre-millennialists agree that the optimistic expectation of the Old Testament is fulfilled, the former saying in and through the church by the ministry of the word and the power of God’s Spirit in the conversion of multitudes, and the latter by positing an earthly kingdom of outward splendour, and having some pessimism about the value and function of the church. The a-millennial position is nowadays commonly somewhat pessimistic and does not expect a general conversion of mankind, and is also commonly futurist in orientation, putting the apostasy, tribulation, and man of sin just before the end rather than seeing these as operative throughout Christian history.

In the Westminster period the a- and post-millennial positions were common and in the form that optimisim for the ultimate success of the gospel was dominant (cf. Larger Catechism 191). A few in the Westminster Assembly, such as Dr Twisse and Thomas Goodwin, influenced by the writings of J.H.Alsted and Joseph Mede, taught that the power of Papal antichrist would soon collapse and a literal millennium begin marked by a glorious but not personal appearance of Christ for the resurrection of the martyrs and the conversion of the Jews. This is not classic pre-millennialism. The pre-millennial position proper was advocated by an Independent pastor, John Archer, who published The Personal Reign of Christ Upon Earth in 1642 [although even here Christ appears briefly at the beginning of the millennium ca. 1700 and then withdraws and rules through his saints, page 23 of 1642 edition]. The Confession does not allow for a pre-millennial position, which was not only rejected by mainstream Puritans but was also discredited for the next 150 years by the excesses of the Fifth Monarchy Men.

I have not located any Scottish Presbyterian minister who was premillennial in the period 1560-1700, and the subscription required in Scotland might be held to exclude even the most limited pre-millennial approach, given that the message of salvation requires modification in the millennial period. Nevertheless, a few Scots ministers, such as R.M.McCheyne and the Bonar brothers, adopted pre-millennial views in the 1830s, but did not have them as the focus of their preaching, and again it was a passing phase. In America the situation was rather different, and a stream of pre-millennial opinion (its literalism reactive to modernism) remains in some parts of American Presbyterianism, and certainly in an earlier period was too near the centre of the stage.

UNFULFILLED PROPHECY

The following principles, in part derived from a study of the significance of the parables of Matthew 13, embody a suggested approach.
1. The kingdom of God that was the subject of Old Testament promise and expectation has begun with the ministry of Jesus.
2. Jesus taught his disciples about the kingdom and equipped them so that they could bring out the old treasures (promises) as well as new (fulfilments), and told them to make known from the housetops what he had taught them in private. The post-resurrection data concerning the kingdom and the church cannot be regarded as other than the public proclamation and elucidation of that revealed in principle by Jesus.
3. Any interpretation of the Old Testament which disregards the disclosures made by Jesus cannot be correct. The Old Testament must be interpreted by the Gospel not the Gospel or the future by a reading of the Old Testament which bypasses the Gospel.
4. The present form of the kingdom is that state of affairs which arises from the Father giving authority to his Christ. It begins with the public ministry of Jesus and is to have a future world wide development to be climaxed by the return of Christ in glory to usher in the eternal kingdom.
5. The Old Testament promise and expectation is to find its fulfilment in and through the church as the realm where kingdom blessings are now experienced.
6. The devil will oppose the work of the kingdom but force is not to be resorted to gain conversions. The consummation will come when the harvest is ready, but will be unexpected and unannounced. A gradual and steady progress cannot be safely inferred from the data, nor can we establish more than that evil will continue in greater or less degree until the consummation.
7. Christ’s return will be personal, visible and bodily. It will not be on earth to be seen by a few but in the heavens to be seen by all. It will be accompanied by the general resurrection, last judgement and the eternal kingdom.
8. The watchword for the Christian is faithfulness in a hostile environment.

“Come Lord Jesus, come quickly.”