In Part 2, we covered the narrative of the resurrection, however here we will address arguments and objections for those who want to test this theory. Feel free to skim this post looking for the arguments you are most interested to hear. Each argument will be independent and not written in any particular order.
Is Sheol divided into two parts?
The rich man and lazarus
In Jesus time, many interpretations of life after death existed. The story of the Rich man and Lazarus was a common fable even before Jesus used it. However Jesus made a twist on the classic story. When the Jew’s used it, the rich man went on to be blessed by Abraham, his wealth was a sign that he had God’s favor, while the poor man was accursed.
Jesus reversed the picture. He had in mind that his disciples would be persecuted for their faith from the Jews and Romans and many of them would be poor because of it. While those who persecuted them were rich and would follow Rome when Rome forced the Jews to use their currency in the siege of Jerusalem. Thus the rich would have been included in the destruction that took place in 70AD while the poor christians would have been rescued.
In Jesus’s parable, it is the poor man who is well off after death and the rich man who is accursed. Jesus’s use of this parable doesn’t have to indicate that he endorsed this view of the afterlife, only that we was reimagining their own fables to explain his teaching.
Today you will be with me in Paradise
However the biggest piece of evidence comes from when Jesus said,
Luke 23:43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
The bible suggests that Jesus went to Hades when he died, however God would not leave him there forever (Acts 2:31, Ephesians 4:8-9, Psalm 16:10, Matthew 12:40).
How are we to make sense that Jesus tells the thief he will be with Jesus in paradise which was a term used throughout the Bible to only represent heaven (The Garden of Eden Revelation 2:7 and The Third Heaven 2 Corinthians 12:2) if Jesus himself did not go to heaven that day?
As you may know the Bible does not actually have commas in it, we added commas to the translation several hundred years later. Thus if we move the comma a slight bit forward, as would be permissible, we get:
Luke 23:43 Verily I say unto you today, “You shall be with me in paradise.”
Does this seem like language Jesus would use? “This day,” and “I command you today” were common expressions in the Bible to mark a point in history for remembrance and state the certainty of the promise (Deuteronomy 30:18-20, Acts 20:26). The thief asked Jesus to remember him when his kingdom came. If this promise was not to happen for some time in the future, Jesus wanted it to be witnessed on this day that he had promised it. It would certainly happen and he would not forget.
William Robert West makes this point in his book and states that there is nothing in the text that demands the comma be placed before “today.”
There is no consciousness in Sheol
In addition, David and Solomon give us strong indication there is no consciousness in Sheol (Psalm 6:5, Ecclesiastics 9:5,10), it is a place where the spirits of the dead are asleep and awaiting the resurrection. However as we may experience throughout the Bible, the sleeping spirits may be woken up for a brief time, such as seen by Saul:
1 Samuel 28:8 “So Saul disguised himself by wearing ordinary clothing instead of his royal robes. Then he went to the woman’s home at night, accompanied by two of his men. “I have to talk to a man who has died,” he said. “Will you call up his spirit for me?”
Isaiah 8:19 When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?
Why does Paul say he will go to be with the Lord when he dies?
Kris Duerksen provides a strong argument against a heavenly resurrection and states that christians began going to heaven as soon as Christ died.
N. T. Wright also asks the same questions.
So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. – 2 Cor 5:6-8
I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. – Phil 1:23
And as Stephen was dying he said,
Acts 7:59 Lord Jesus, receive my spirit
Luke 23:43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Ellicott in his commentary believes Paul’s language is meant to be interpreted differently,
We are confident, I say.–The sentence begun in 2 Corinthians 5:6 and half broken off is resumed. The apparent sense is that he prefers death to life, because it brings him to the presence of his Lord. At first, this seems at variance with what he had said in 2 Corinthians 5:4, as to his not wishing to put off the garment of the present body. Here, however, the expression is not so strong. “We are content,“ he says, “if death comes before the Coming of the Lord, to accept death; for even though it does not bring with it the glory of the resurrection body, it does make us at home with Christ among the souls who wait for the resurrection.”
Ellicott states earlier in his work, “The two verbs for being “at home” and “absent” are not found elsewhere in the New Testament. The latter conveys the special idea of being absent from a man’s own home or country. The knowledge of the fact that follows is given as the ground of the Apostle’s confidence. It makes him long for the change; not wishing for death, but content to accept it, as it will bring him nearer to his Lord.”
Also check out his explanation of Philippians 1:23.
1 Thessalonians 2:1 Tells us we will not be with the Lord until his coming
1 Thessalonians 2:1 Now, dear brothers and sisters, let us clarify some things about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and how we will be gathered to meet him.
I wonder if what Paul is trying to say is that when Christ comes again — when the resurrection happens — it is better to be one of the resurrected believers, “with the Lord,” watching from heaven, rather than someone who is still on earth having to flee Jerusalem during God’s deliverance. See my note on “Why then would the resurrected be in the clouds?” Both the resurrected believers and the believers still on earth would see his coming, those in heaven however would be in comfort while those on earth would be fleeing the invasion and living in the desert.
As for Stephen commending this spirit to God, he is trusting that God will eventually rise him up. Jesus also commended His Spirit to the Father (Luke 23:46) before he went in Hades.
As for “today you will be with me in paradise,” please refer to the question “Is Sheol divided into two parts?” and “Today you will be with me in paradise,” at the top of this article.
Why did Jesus say you will join me in paradise?
Please refer to the question “Is Sheol divided into two parts?” and “Today you will be with me in paradise,” at the top of this article.
Does “about to happen” really mean “about to” or “certainly?”
Acts 24:15 “There is about to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.”
Acts 24:15 “There will certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.”
“About to be” is missing in some translations but is present in the greek. Critics will point out that this greek word can also mean “inevitable”, as in “there will inevitably be a resurrection of the dead.” However, whenever mello (the greek word for about) in the present active indicative is combined with an infinitive, it is consistently translated “about to.” They would also have to explain the imminence in 1 Peter 4:5 and John 5:24-29
1 Peter 4:5 but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.
John 5:24-29 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.
They would also have to explain imminence referring to these events in hundreds of other scriptures. David A. Green covers 101 of these scriptures, if you are still in doubt, please take time to read his article.
Partial preterists will break up these verses of imminence into separate events, Jesus’s second coming at the fall of Jerusalem, and at the end of time a resurrection.
However these events were all said to happen at the same time, (1 Thessalonians 4:16, John 14:2-3, 1 Corinthians 15:23, Daniel 12:13).
1 Corinthians 15:23 But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back.
This requires them to not only explain the imminence of scriptures that directly refer to the resurrection and final judgment, but also explain the imminence of scriptures referring to Christ’s second coming which happens at the same time.
Was Jesus referring to his transfiguration when he said he would return in his glory?
Matthew 16:27-28 (NKJV) “For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. 28 “Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”
None of the disciples had died before Jesus was transfigured several days after this statement. Also did Jesus come with his angels and reward each man according to his works at that time?
Were Jesus and the disciples mistaken?
Matthew 24:36 But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
Jesus himself admits that he does not know the day and hour of his return, so perhaps he was mistaken?
Is it possible for Jesus to be mistaken? If so, what else was he mistaken about?
Take a minute a reason with me about this:
Matthew 16:28 Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.
Let’s say Jesus really didn’t have any idea when it would be. Why would he then make so bold a claim that assuredly some would not die before it happened and many other statements like it? We are essentially saying he means something like:
Wife – Darling, my favorite band just announced sometime these next couple years they want to come play in America, they haven’t set a date yet. I want us to be ready to go, but I’m not sure when it will be.
Husband – Uh… sure? Just tell me the day and we’ll go.
Wife – I don’t know when it is, but I’m certain it’s this week, you can trust me on that.
Of course this makes no sense. If you were the husband would you trust your wife that the concert is this week?
But the disciples did get ready. They lived, they prepared, they anticipated his coming soon. This means, whatever Jesus’s communicated to them, they understood it to happen soon.
That leaves us with only one explanation: only Jesus knew what he meant by that statement, but the disciples didn’t. He deliberately kept them in the dark or we might even say “lied.”
How then could we trust the scriptures? If only Jesus knew what he meant and the disciples who gave us the majority of scripture didn’t know, we have no way of knowing what to trust.
Wouldn’t it make more sense that when Jesus said “before some of you die” it showed that though he didn’t know the day and the hour, he did know the timeframe? Specifically this generation?
Jesus, being God, cannot lie. If he tells us truly this will happen soon and we cannot trust him, how could we trust anything he says? God himself vouches for him saying, “No deceit was found in his mouth” (Isaiah 53:9). Most scholars agree Matthew was written 80-90AD, a time after the prophecy of Jesus was supposed to have occurred. If the disciples didn’t believe this hadn’t happened as he said and realized they were mistaken why would they not make any adjustments, corrections, or leave a note in the gospels, a “let the reader understand” moment?
When Jesus said “soon” did he mean thousands of years?
We just concluded that whatever Jesus meant by soon, the disciples believed it to be “soon” in human terms. Now we must question if Jesus said one thing but meant another.
2 Peter 3:8-9 8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.
Let’s think about the implications of this for a minute. This argument means God does not communicate truthfully when he gives time statements.
However, we have clear examples throughout the old testament that God does wish to be correctly understood on time statements.
Don K. Preston states
In Numbers 24:17-18 Balaam the prophet made a prediction of Christ’s coming: “I see him but not now, I behold him but not near.” Notice he said Christ’s coming was NOT NEAR; IT WAS NOT AT HAND. Why did he say this? Because Christ’s coming was over 1400 years away, and 1400 years really is a long time! Here is a concrete example where God referred to a long time as just that.
In Daniel 10-12 is a vision encompassing a period of time from 536 BC to the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD; about 600 years. Two times in this text Daniel was told “the appointed time is long” and “the vision refers to many days to come” (10:1,14). Remember, this vision was relayed to Daniel from God. While God is not bound by time, he was communicating to man who is bound to time. God called this 600 year period of time “long;” he said it involved “many days.” God can most assuredly tell time and read a calendar!
Daniel contains another important example of how God used time words. Chapter 8 contains a prophecy that extends from 530 BC to about 165-164 BC and the death of Antiochus Epiphanes. The time covered is about 365 years. How did God express the prophecy? Did he say it was at hand? Did he say SOME of it was at hand while some of it was for a long time off? No! God viewed the prophecy as a whole. He said the vision “refers to many days in the future” (8:26). Here is a prophecy that covers 365 years and God called it “a long time.” Friends, if God called 365 years a long time, how can man say that time, when God is speaking to man, means nothing?
This is an important question in light of the traditional interpretations of Revelation. Daniel was told to seal up his vision because the time for its fulfillment was a long time away–365 years. John was specifically told NOT TO SEAL UP HIS VISION BECAUSE WHAT HE SAW WAS AT HAND! John is told his vision, not part of his vision, was “at hand” and “must shortly come to pass!” Reader, did God call the 365 years for the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy a “long time” and call the fulfillment of Revelation, which most commentators say has not been fulfilled after 2000 years so far, “at hand?” To say the least, this would hardly be consistent!
Just after the 1000 year verse in question it states that God is not slow. If God defines 600 years as being slow, that means God would be slow in fulfilling his promise if 2000 years have already gone by.
We know also that Daniel and the book of revelation use much of the same imagery which I believe is talking about the same events. God tells Daniel to seal the scroll because the time will not happen for a long time. However he tells John to leave the scroll unsealed because the time was at hand.
When God says he won’t delay, he means it as we think of it (Ezekiel 12:21-28). Hebrews 10:37 tells us “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and not delay.”
But there is a greater problem that us charismatics won’t admit to ourselves: if God makes promises he says will happen soon but by that he could mean thousands of years, can we actually trust him? I’m sure you won’t let yourself ask this question, but it is very important and a real problem with our interpretation of the scripture.
For him to tell unlearned disciples that something was about to happen without delay and they should be alert and ready for it but really behind the scenes hope they understood that this wouldn’t happen till 2000 years later is a misdirection and out of character for God.
This interpretation completely removes the relevance of these passages of comfort from the early church at a time when they were enduring great suffering. If the disciples had understood Jesus to mean before the Jewish race went extinct, they probably would have not lived their lives being alert and watchful and encouraging their followers to do the same.
Was the promise of Christ’s second coming conditional and thus delayed?
This argument states we are at fault for delaying his coming by either not preaching his word to the whole world (Matthew 24:14) or because God has compassion on those who would be destroyed and does not want to loose anyone. He is waiting until he can save as many as possible (2 Peter 3).
When Jesus told them to preach the gospel to the whole world, the actual language in the Greek meant the land of Israel and the tribes of Israel. It would have been shocking for the disciples to hear that Jesus wanted them to preach to the gentiles. Why then would Peter have been surprised later when God expected him to eat with gentiles? However, several scriptures have indicated that the gospel was preached to the whole world (Colossians 1:6, Acts 2:5, Romans 1:8, Colossians 1:23).
No time is perfect for the day of judgement, but if God promises not to delay He must carry out his word in his promised timeframe, even if it’s near the end of that timeframe. If God has made a nonrefundable promise to us and He cannot lie, but that promise is dependent on us and we do not fulfill our half, what does that say about God’s faithfulness? Has it been thwarted? I think it’s safe to say that 2000 years from the intended fulfillment would be considered a delay. Daniel says that the end will come at the appointed time, not 2000 years later (Daniel 11:35).
Romans has much to say about this argument, God remains faithful to his promise even if his people remain unfaithful to their end. God’s promise was to return quickly.
Romans 3:3-4 What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? 4 Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar.
What if the resurrection is an earthly resurrection and not a heavenly one?
You wouldn’t be alone in believing this, even N.T. Wright argues this position, and he is one of the most respected Bible scholars. He argues that since Christ’s body was an earthly resurrected body, we too will be resurrected to live on earth. But this need not be the case.
However, where is Jesus living now? He is in a tangible body yet is living in heaven. We believe God also has a tangible body, he is not simply a ghost living in heaven, yet he dwells in heaven. Likewise I argue we will also be physically resurrected, in that we will have new tangible bodies, yet we are meant to dwell in heaven.
1 Corinthians 15:1-3 we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself… we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies
Notice, that God will give us heavenly bodies that are meant to live in heaven, they are in fact tangible bodies as we “will not be spirits without bodies.” This could be a valid explanation about why the resurrection was not witnessed extensively and physically on earth. The saints received their new tangible bodies and went directly up to heaven, perhaps directly from Sheol, not even passing through this earth. Notice these bodies are meant to live in heaven. This may explain why Ezekiel 37:1-14, almost seems to be an earthly resurrection, yet is referring to a heavenly body in heaven.
God will give us heavenly bodies that are meant to live in heaven
Partial preterists say this passage simply means we receive these heavenly bodies the moment we die and in the future we will receive earthly bodies, however the passage states that we don’t receive these heavenly bodies until the final trumpet sounds and death as been swallowed up in victory.
1 Corinthians 15:52-54 For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.
Why then would the resurrected be in the clouds?
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”
If the resurrected were meant to live on earth, why would God take the dead and living saints and raise them up into the air to be with the Lord forever? Futurists suggest the dead would come out of their graves and right away rise up into the clouds. We who are living would also rise up into the clouds but then we will all come back down on earth with the Lord.
This passage does not mention us coming back down, it leaves us in the clouds with the Lord forever. However, you may ask, “If the resurrection meant the living saints were lifted into the clouds, wouldn’t we have seen that and how would there be any christians left in the world?”
Fair question. The passage does not require the lifting of those left behind to happen immediately after the resurrection of the dead. Preterists believe what is meant is that “thereafter” as the greek states, when saints die, they will join the resurrected dead in heaven.
Doesn’t the Bible warn us against this kind of teaching?
2 Timothy 2:17-18 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. 19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”
Paul here quotes Numbers 16 which is a story that is an archetype of what would happen in the last days. It was a time when Korah, Dathan and Abiram were challenging Moses on who was holy before the Lord. Was Moses supposed to continue to be Israel’s authority or them?
The same was happening in the days of the disciples. Christians were beginning to claim they were God’s true covenant people, the true holy Israel through Jesus, and the Jews who crucified Jesus were attempting to state that they were God’s true covenant people and they were the holy ones. They believed the christians were unholy and wrong.
When Hymenaeus attempted to convince them that the resurrection had already happened but at the same time show that God hadn’t judged the Jews or destroyed the temple, that was an indication that the Jews were vindicated and Jesus was a false prophet. For God’s judgement and second coming had to happen at the same time.
But how was this issue resolved? God’s judgement came swiftly and destroyed Korah, Dathan and Abiram and their followers and vindicated Moses, just like He was about to come and vindicate christians. As Paul states later in the letter
2 Timothy 4:1 I earnestly declare before God and Christ Jesus, the One being about to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:
This also solidifies the idea that the resurrection was an unseen event. It would be very difficult for someone to convince a christian that the resurrection had already happened if it was meant to be physical bodies raising from their graves. “I don’t see my dead grandparents,” they may say.
Why is there no proof in the early church?
Early church history not does hold the ultimate key to truth, however some of the early church fathers were instructed directly by the disciples through oral tradition and can bring additional helpful information in forming our beliefs, even if they are uninspired. However, many futurists claim there is no historical evidence of preterism, but this is subject to interpretation. Futurists, partial preterists, and full preterists must stretch some of the meanings of the early church fathers to fit their models and they have some room to do so because the words can be ambiguous.
Here is a quote from N. T. Wright on the subject:
N. T. Wright
Christian Origins and the Resurrection of Jesus: The Resurrection of Jesus as a Historical Problem
…Nevertheless—and this is the third step in this third stage of the argument—although, aw we have stressed, the new age had not dawned in the way that first century Jews imagined, and the resurrection of all God’s people old had not taken place, yet the very earliest church persisted in declaring roundly not only that Jesus was raised from the dead but also that “the resurrection of the dead” had already occurred. What is more, as we have observed, members of the church busily set about redesigning their worldview—their characteristic praxis, their controlling stories, their symbolic universe, and their basic theology—around this new fixed point. They behaved, in other words, as though the new age had already arrived. That was the inner logic of the Gentile mission: since God had now done for Israel what he was going to do for Israel the Gentiles would at least share the blessing (Isa. 66:18-23; Zech. 14:16). They did not behave as thought they had had a new sort of religious experience or as if their former leader was alive and well in the presence of God, whether as an angel or a spirit or whatever. The only explanation for their behavior, their stories, their symbols, and their theology is that they really believed Jesus had been bodily raised from the dead. This conclusion is so well grounded that, today, even those who would like to insist that the body of Jesus in fact remained decomposing in the tomb agree that the early Christians believed him to have been bodily raised, leaving an empty tomb behind him.
Now we will address preterist and partial preterist quotes:
The Odes of Solomon– Written 100AD
“Because He is my Sun and His rays have lifted me up and His light hath dispelled all darkness from my face. In Him I have acquired eyes and have seen His holy day: The way of error I have left, and have walked towards Him and have received salvation from Him, without grudging. I have put on incorruption through His name: and have put off corruption by His grace. Death hath been destroyed before my face: and Sheol bath been abolished by my word“
He who overthrew by my hands the dragon with seven heads, and set me at his roots that I might destroy his seed;
You were there and helped me, and in every place Your name surrounded me.
Your right hand destroyed his evil venom, and Your hand leveled the Way for those who believe in You.
And It chose them from the graves, and separated them from the dead ones.
It took dead bones and covered them with flesh.
But they were motionless, so It gave them energy for life.
Incorruptible was Your way and Your face; You have brought Your world to corruption, that everything might be resolved and renewed.
And the foundation of everything is Your rock. And upon it You have built Your kingdom, and it became the dwelling-place of the holy ones.
Written 150AD: Melito of Sardis – Homily of the Pascha “Who will contend against me? Let him stand before me. It is I who delivered the condemned. It is I who gave life to the dead. It is I who raised up the buried. Who will argue with me? It is I, says Christ, who destroyed death. It is I who triumphed over the enemy, and having trod down Hades, and bound the Strong Man, and have snatched mankind up to the heights of heaven.”
…This is the one who was born of Mary, that beautiful ewe-lamb. This is the one who was taken from the flock, and was dragged to sacrifice, and was killed in the evening, and was buried at night; the one who was not broken while on the tree, who did not see dissolution while in the earth, who rose up from the dead, and who raised up mankind from the grave below.
This is the one who became human in a virgin, who was hanged on the tree, who was buried in the earth, who was resurrected from among the dead, and who raised mankind up out of the grave below to the heights of heaven
Melito’s words are ambiguous. It seems he is saying that at the moment Christ rose from the dead, he had defeated death and risen the saints out of their graves to heaven. The text doesn’t demand this view. It’s permissible to see a time gap between these two statements, “he rose from the dead and within a generation later rose up the saints,” or this could be a statement as a promise, that in a symbolic way Jesus had conquered death but that had not fully happened yet. The problem with believing that Jesus had defeated Sheol at the moment of his resurrection is it negates Paul describing this as a future event.
1 Corinthians 15:54-55
54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”[a]
55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”[b]
This word for death is the word Sheol in Hosea 13:14.
Tradition states that St. Ignatius was a direct disciple of John the Apostle, the one who wrote the book of revelation. He states:
The Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians, shorter version Written 100-115AD by St. Ignatius
“Seeing then that in the aforementioned persons I beheld your whole people in faith and embraced them, I advise you, be ye zealous to do all things in godly concord, the bishop presiding after the likeness of God and the presbyters after the likeness of the council of the Apostles, with the deacons also who are most dear to me, having been entrusted with the diaconate of Jesus Christ, who was with the Father before the worlds and appeared at the end of time.”
“…How shall we be able to live apart from Him whose disciples, the prophets themselves, in the Spirit did wait for Him as their Teacher? And therefore He whom they rightly waited for, being come, raised them from the dead.”
The Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians Chapter 19 – Shorter version
“How, then, was He manifested to the world? A Star shone forth in heaven above all the other stars, the light of which was inexpressible, while Its novelty struck men with astonishment. And all the rest of the stars, with the sun and moon, formed a chorus to this Star, and its light was exceedingly great above them all. And there was agitation felt as to whence this new Spectacle came, so unlike to everything else [in the heavens]. Hence every kind of magic was destroyed, and every bond of wickedness disappeared; ignorance was removed, and the old kingdom abolished, God Himself being manifested in human form for the renewal of eternal life. And now that took a beginning which had been prepared by God. Henceforth all things were in a state of tumult, because He meditated the abolition of death.”
Who is the “them” that were raised? “The disciples,” the disciples weren’t risen from the dead the moment of Christ’s resurrection, but later when he returned a second time. Partial preterists will say this passage refers to Jesus’s first coming when he resurrected, defeated Sheol, and brought all dead believers to heaven.
This passage is quoted out of Isaiah, a time describing what I believe to happen as the result of the new heavens and new earth.
Eusebius 314 AD “The Father of Church History” “And all this prophecy of what would result from their insolence against the Christ has been clearly proved to have taken place … afterwards from that day to this that God turned their feasts into mourning, despoiled them of their famous Mother-City, and destroyed the holy Temple therein when Titus and Vespasian were Emperors of Rome, so that they could no longer go up to keep their feasts and sacred meetings… in return for their rejection of the Word of God; since with one voice they refused Him, so He refuses them.” – Demonstratio Evangelica, BOOK X
“When we see what as of old foretold for the nations fulfilled in our own day, and when the lamentation and wailing that was predicted for the Jews, and the burning of the Temple and its utter desolation, can also be seen even now to have occurred according to prediction, surely we must also agree that the King who was prophesied, the Christ of God, has come, since the signs of his coming have been shown in each instance I have treated to have been clearly fulfilled.” Demonstratio Evangelica (Proof of the Gospel); BOOK VIII
Athanasius 345 AD –
On the Incarnation of the Word 40 “So the Jews are trifling, and the time in question, which they refer to the future, is actually come. For when did prophet and vision cease from Israel, save when Christ came, the Holy of Holies? For it is a sign, and an important proof, of the coming of the Word of God, that Jerusalem no longer stands, nor is any prophet raised up nor vision revealed to them — and that very naturally. 2. For when He that was signified had come, what need was there any longer of any to signify Him?”
“…This too has already come to pass. To expose the godlessness of idolatry? It is already exposed and condemned. Or to destroy death? He is already destroyed. 7. What then has not come to pass, that the Christ must do? What is left unfulfilled, that the Jews should now disbelieve with impunity?”
In context, it seems Athanasius is speaking of Christ’s first coming, however he mentioned that prophecy was fulfilled and ceased and that death was destroyed, by which he may refer to the resurrection.
Letter 4, Part 3 – Now, however, that the devil, that tyrant against the whole world, is slain, we do not approach a temporal feast, my beloved, but an eternal and heavenly… For no more does death reign; but instead of death henceforth is life, since our Lord said, ‘I am the life;’ so that everything is filled with joy and gladness; as it is written, ‘The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice.’ For when death reigned, ‘sitting down by the rivers of Babylon, we wept,’ and mourned, because we felt the bitterness of captivity; but now that death and the kingdom of the devil is abolished, everything is entirely filled with joy and gladness.
Letter 6, Part 9-10
For the death of Isaac did not procure freedom to the world, but that of our Saviour alone, by whose stripes we all are healed. For He raised up the falling, healed the sick, satisfied those who were hungry, and filled the poor, and, what is more wonderful raised us all from the dead; having abolished death, He has brought us from affliction and sighing to the rest and gladness of this feast, a joy which reacheth even to heaven. For not we alone are affected by this, but because of it, even the heavens rejoice with us, and the whole church of the firstborn, written in heaven, is made glad together, as the prophet proclaims, saying, ‘Rejoice, ye heavens, for the Lord hath had mercy upon Israel. Shout, ye foundations of the earth. Cry out with joy, ye mountains, ye high places, and all the trees which are in them, for the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and Israel hath been glorified.’ And again; Rejoice, and be glad, ye heavens; let the hills melt into gladness, for the Lord hath had mercy on His people, and comforted the oppressed of the people.’
PART 10. For they look on sinners while they repent; on those who have turned away their faces, when they become converted; on those Who formerly persisted in lusts and excess, but who now humble themselves by fastings and temperance; and, finally, on the enemy who lies weakened, lifeless, bound hand and foot, so that we may mock at him; ‘Where is thy victory, O Death? where is thy sting, O Grave?’ Let us then sing unto the Lord a song of victory.
Hippolytus of Rome 200 AD – Part II —Dogmatical and Historical – Treatise on Christ and Antichrist section 30
Come, then, O blessed Isaiah; arise, tell us clearly what did you prophesy with respect to the mighty Babylon? For thou didst speak also of Jerusalem, and your word is accomplished. For you spoke boldly and openly: “Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire; your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate as overthrown by many strangers. The daughter of Zion shall be left as a cottage in a vineyard, and as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.”
What then? Have not these things come to pass? Are not the things announced by you fulfilled? Is not their country, Judea, desolate? Is not the holy place burned with fire? Are not their walls cast down? Are not their cities destroyed? Their land, do not strangers devour it? Do not the Romans rule the country? And â€¦ Thou art dead in the world, but you live in Christ.”– Fragments of Dogmatic and Historical Works
2 Clement 19:4
Therefore let not the godly be grieved, if he be miserable in the times that now are: a blessed time awaiteth him. He shall live again in heaven with our fathers, and shall have rejoicing throughout
a sorrowless eternity.
Notice Clement expects christians to live again in heaven for all eternity.
388AD: Chrysostom – St. Chrysostom’s Liturgy “Having in remembrance, therefore, this saving commandment and all those things which have come to pass for us: the Cross, the Grave, the Resurrection on the third day, the Ascension into heaven, the Sitting at the right hand, and the second and glorious Coming“
To be fair, Chrysostom does believe in a future bodily resurrection.
Irenaeus speaks of a future resurrection from his day, but he does concede that the apostles sleep in Sheol until the resurrection. However he goes on to say they resurrect to one of the levels of heaven based on their deeds. Either the new Jerusalem, Paradise where Jesus dwells, or Heaven where God dwells. Some claim he was a futurist, however he was only a futurist of his time, as he believed the end times would happen when Rome dissolved and at the same moment 6000 years of the earth’s history had gone by, matching the days in which God created the earth x 1000. In his favor, another disciple living in his time, Clement of Alexandria, dated the world’s existence to 5592 B.C. Thus, 6000 years later would be around 408AD, which is the timeframe we believe the Roman empire crumbled (395–476AD).
Irenaeus (Perhaps written around 175-185 A.D.)
Against Heresies (Book V, Preface)
In a still clearer light has John, in the Apocalypse, indicated to the Lord’s disciples what shall happen in the last times, and concerning the ten kings who shall then arise, among whom the empire which now rules [the earth] shall be partitioned. He teaches us what the ten horns shall be which were seen by Daniel…
For as the Lord “went away in the midst of the shadow of death,”4717where the souls of the dead were, yet afterwards arose in the body, and after the resurrection was taken up [into heaven], it is manifest that the souls of His disciples also, upon whose account the Lord underwent these things, shall go away into the invisible place allotted to them by God, and there remain until the resurrection, awaiting that event; then receiving their bodies, and rising in their entirety, that is bodily, just as the Lord arose, they shall come thus into the presence of God. “For no disciple is above the Master, but every one that is perfect shall be as his Master.”4718 As our Master, therefore, did not at once depart, taking flight [to heaven], but awaited the time of His resurrection prescribed by the Father, which had been also shown forth through Jonas, and rising again after three days was taken up [to heaven]; 561so ought we also to await the time of our resurrection prescribed by God and foretold by the prophets, and so, rising, be taken up, as many as the Lord shall account worthy of this [privilege].
Notice he says the disciples were not in the presence of God or in heaven before the resurrection they were in the invisible place allotted by God. When they did rise, they would enter one of the 3 levels of heaven.
[They say, moreover], that there is this distinction between the habitation of those who produce an hundred-fold, and that of those who produce sixty-fold, and that of those who produce thirty-fold: for the first will be taken up into the heavens, the second will dwell in paradise, the last will inhabit the city; and that was on this account the Lord declared, “In My Father’s house are many mansions.”(3) For all things belong to God, who supplies all with a suitable dwelling-place; even as His Word says, that a share is allotted to all by the Father, according as each person is or shall be worthy.
Verses indicating the nearness of the end times
List and notes compiled by David A. Green in his article Preterism 101.
1. “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 3:2)
2. “Who warned you to flee from the wrath about to come?” (Matt. 3:7)
3. “The axe is already laid at the root of the trees.” (Matt. 3:10)
4. “His winnowing fork is in His hand.” (Matt. 3:12)
5. “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 4:17)
6. “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 10:7)
7. “You shall not finish going through the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man comes.” (Matt. 10:23)
8. “….the age about to come.” (Matt. 12:32)
9. “The Son of Man is about to come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and will then recompense every man according to his deeds.” (Matt. 16:27)
10. “There are some of those who are standing here who shall not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” (Matt. 16:28; cf. Mk. 9:1; Lk. 9:27)
11. “‘When the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vine-growers?’ ‘….He will bring those wretches to a wretched end, and will rent out the vineyard to other vine-growers, who will pay him the proceeds at the proper seasons.’ ‘….Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it.’ ….When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they understood that He was speaking about them.” (Matt. 21:40-41,43,45)
12. “This generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” (Matt. 24:34)
13. “From now on, you [Caiaphas, the chief priests, the scribes, the elders, the whole Sanhedrin] shall be seeing the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matt. 26:64; Mk. 14:62; Lk. 22:69)
14. “The kingdom of God is at hand.” (Mk. 1:15)
15. “What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the vine-growers, and will give the vineyard to others. ….They [the chief priests, scribes and elders]understood that He spoke the parable against them.” (Mk. 12:9,12)
16. “This generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” (Mk. 13:30)
17. “Who warned you to flee from the wrath about to come?” (Lk. 3:7)
18. “The axe is already laid at the root of the trees. ” (Lk. 3:9)
19. “His winnowing fork is in His hand….” (Lk. 3:17)
20. “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” (Lk. 10:9)
21. “The kingdom of God has come near.” (Lk. 10:11)
22. “What, therefore, will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy these vine-growers and will give the vineyard to others.” …The scribes and the chief priests …understood that He spoke this parable against them.” (Lk. 20:15-16,19)
23. “These are days of vengeance, in order that all things which are written may be fulfilled.” (Lk. 21:22)
24. “This generation will not pass away until all things take place.” (Lk. 21:32)
25. “Daughters of Jerusalem, stop weeping for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’” (Lk. 23:28-30; Compare Rev. 6:14-17)
26. “We were hoping that He was the One who is about to redeem Israel.” (Lk. 24:21)
27. “I will come to you. …In that Day you shall know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.’ …’Lord, what then has happened that You are about to disclose Yourself to us, and not to the world?'” (Jn. 14:18,20,22)
28. “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?” (Jn. 21:22)
29. “This is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall be in the last days…’” (Acts 2:16-17)
30. “He has fixed a day in which He is about to judge the world in righteousness…” (Acts 17:31)
31. “There is about to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.” (Acts 24:15)
32. “As he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment about to come…” (Acts 24:25)
33. “Not for [Abraham’s] sake only was it written, that [faith] was reckoned to him [as righteousness], but for our sake also, to whom it is about to be reckoned.” (Rom. 4:23-24)
34. “If you are living according to the flesh, you are about to die.” (Rom. 8:13)
35. “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us.” (Rom. 8:18)
36. “It is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand.” (Rom. 13:11-12)
37. “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” (Rom. 16:20)
38. “The time has been shortened.” (I Cor. 7:29)
39. “The form of this world is passing away.” (I Cor. 7:31)
40. “Now these things …were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” (I Cor. 10:11)
41. “We shall not all fall sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.” (I Cor. 15:51-52)
42. “Maranatha!” [The Lord comes!] (I Cor. 16:22)
43. “…not only in this age, but also in the one about to come.” (Eph. 1:21)
44. “The Lord is near.” (Phil. 4:5)
45. “The gospel …was proclaimed in all creation under heaven.” (Col. 1:23; Compare Matt. 24:14; Rom. 10:18; 16:26; Col. 1:5-6; II Tim. 4:17; Rev. 14:6-7; cf. I Clement 5,7)
46. “…things which are a shadow of what is about to come.” (Col. 2:16-17)
47. “…we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord… …We who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds… …You, brethren, are not in darkness, that the Day should overtake you like a thief.” (I Thess. 4:15,17; 5:4)
48. “May your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Thess. 5:23)
49. “It is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire.” (II Thess. 1:6-7)
50. “Godliness …holds promise for the present life and that which is about to come.” (I Tim. 4:8)
51. “I charge you …that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Tim. 6:14)
52. “…storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for that which is about to come, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.” (I Tim. 6:19)
53. “In the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self… …Avoid these men. For of these are those who enter into households and captivate weak women… …These also oppose the truth… …But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all…” (II Tim. 3:1-2,5-6,8-9)
54. “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is about to judge the living and the dead…” (II Tim. 4:1)
55. “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son.” (Heb. 1:1-2)
56. “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who are about to inherit salvation?” (Heb. 1:14)
57. “He did not subject to angels the world about to come.” (Heb. 2:5)
58. “…and have tasted …the powers of the age about to come.” (Heb. 6:5)
59. “For ground that drinks the rain which often falls upon it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near a curse, and it’s end is for burning.” (Heb. 6:7-8)
60. “When He said, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.” (Heb. 8:13)
61. “The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way of the [heavenly] Holy Places has not yet been revealed, while the outer tabernacle is still standing, which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation.” (Heb. 9:8-10; Compare Gal. 4:19; Eph. 2:21-22; 3:17; 4:13)
62. “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things about to come…” (Heb. 9:11)
63. “Now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin.” (Heb. 9:26)
64. “For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things about to come…” (Heb. 10:1)
65. “…as you see the Day drawing near.” (Heb. 10:25)
66. “…the fury of a fire which is about to consume the adversaries.” (Heb. 10:27)
67. “For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay.” (Heb. 10:37)
68. “For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the one that is about to come.” (Heb. 13:14)
69. “Speak and so act, as those who are about to be judged by the law of liberty.” (Jms. 2:12)
70. “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. …It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure!” (Jms. 5:1,3)
71. “Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.” (Jms. 5:7)
72. “You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” (Jms. 5:8)
73. “…salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (I Peter 1:5)
74. “He …has appeared in these last times for the sake of you.” (I Peter 1:20)
75. “They shall give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” (I Peter 4:5)
76. “The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.” (I Peter 4:7)
77. “For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God.” (I Peter 4:17)
78. “…as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is about to be revealed.” (I Peter 5:1)
79. “We have the prophetic word …which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the Day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.” (II Peter 1:19)
80. “Their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” (II Peter 2:3)
81. “In the last days mockers will come. …For this they willingly are ignorant of…” (I Peter 3:3,5)
82. “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God.” (II Peter 3:10-12)
83. “The darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.” (I Jn. 2:8)
84. “The world is passing away, and its desires.” (I Jn. 2:17)
85. “It is the last hour.” (I Jn. 2:18)
86. “Even now many antichrists have arisen; from this we know that it is the last hour.” (I Jn. 2:18; Compare Matt. 24:23-34)
87. “This is that of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.” (I Jn. 4:3; Compare II Thess. 2:7)
88. “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation. …About these also Enoch …prophesied, saying, ‘Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly…’” (Jude 1:4,14-15)
89. “But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, ‘In the last time there shall be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.’ These are the ones who cause divisions…” (Jude 1:17-19)
90. “…to show to His bond-servants, the things which must shortly take place.” (Rev. 1:1)
91. “The time is near.” (Rev. 1:3)
92. “Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come.” (Rev. 2:25)
93. “I also will keep you from the hour of testing which is about to come upon the whole world.” (Rev. 3:10)
94. “I am coming quickly.” (Rev. 3:11)
95. “And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is about to rule all the nations with a rod of iron.” (Rev. 12:5)
96. “And in her [the Great City Babylon] was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth.” (Rev. 18:24; Compare Matt. 23:35-36; Lk. 11:50-51)
97. “…to show to His bond-servants the things which must shortly take place.” (Rev. 22:6)
98. “Behold, I am coming quickly. ” (Rev. 22:7)
99. “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.” (Rev. 22:10; Compare Dan. 8:26)
100. “Behold, I am coming quickly.” (Rev. 22:12)
101. “Yes, I am coming quickly.” (Rev. 22:20)
God wanted us to always be alert – The false prophet problem
Some futurists will say God pretended that the prophecy would happen soon so that his disciples would always be alert, ready, and doing good works. However this brings up the problem of a false prophet.
Deuteronomy 18:22 If the prophet speaks in the LORD’s name but his prediction does not happen or come true, you will know that the LORD did not give that message. That prophet has spoken without my authority and need not be feared.
If Jesus, the prophets, and the disciples said this event would happen within a proposed timeframe and we say the event did not happen in that timeframe, we are essentially calling Jesus, the disciples, and the prophets – false prophets. Prophets who do not act on God’s authority and should not be listened to. If we say Jesus lied about his prophecy’s timeframe to get us to be alert, the Bible says in that case not to pay attention to the prophecy and not to fear it.
Now you may say, “the prophecy still will come true in the future and hasn’t been proved false,” but notice this passage says “but his prediction does not happen or come true,” showing that it is judged by time, not just content. If Jesus included in his prophecy a timeframe, that it would come to pass within this generation, while some were still living, before they had gone through all the streets of Israel then this means it had to come true within that timeframe to be valid.
And we know Jesus, the disciples, and the prophets of old were genuine prophets, not false.
This unfortunately is where I had to depart from futurism. It has not provided a sound argument that doesn’t damage God’s reputation. God is left either a liar, misleading, or unreliable and we know none of those are true. We should assume until more evidence or a stronger argument appears that when the Bible speaks of these events happening soon, it means what it says and the disciples by validation and omission confirmed these events had happened afterward when they wrote the gospels.
Once again, I am not a scholar, and I may be wrong on several of these matters, my goal is to find the truth. Please be careful about what you decide to believe and take what I argue with a grain of salt. I hope this answers any questions you may have.