Stephen Whitsett BA
Giving an orthodox apologetic answer for Preterism / Dispensationalism
Preterism Millennial Reign Problem
Stephen Whitsett B.A.
Any interpretational system used and applied over scriptures must first be proven to be an acceptable method of interpretation. Covenant Eschatology has failed to do so. Dispensationalism and Preterism are both systems in which scriptures are forced to fit a certain presupposed system. When weaknesses are revealed through the review process these flaws must be reexamined. When critical unrecoverable flaws are discovered the system must be discarded. The majority of fatal flaws with in Preterism begin with its rejection of the Creeds as a basis that defines Christianity yet it survives among certain groups.
Preterism fundamental deficiencies begin by redefining words, declaring unbiblical principles (time dictates the nature) as truth, and engaging in illogical arguments. This paper will expose the logical failure concerning the Millennium and the nature of the two resurrections.
Don Preston, a leading proponent of Preterism, with his prolific writing makes his case very plain concerning the millennium time frame.
I want to begin my discussion by expressing what I believe the millennium to be. Essentially it entails the period of time (approximately forty years) that transpired between the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry and foe end of the Old Covenant age of Israel which occurred when the temple was destroyed in 70 A. D .
Many accept this as the time frame and argue vehemently over this as a fact or uncontestable fact, or as Don puts it, prima facie true. The second “fact” in question is the timing of the resurrection of the dead.
Furthermore, I would add that this resurrection, which occurs at the end of the millennium, is inextricably tied to the final judgment that was to come upon Old Covenant Israel .
What becomes pointed is that he demands all things to be interpreted though the covenant Eschatology lens by using such statements as, “Old Covenant Israel” as the prima facie concept being repeatedly through scriptures and especially in Revelation as it is all about the passing of the Old Covenant system. In their post millennial position, the second coming, resurrection, final judgment, and the new heaven and earth all these events are posited after the millennium. Again in his final words of the paper he demands the correctness of his paradigm.
Furthermore, with regard to Revelation 20, any interpretation of this passage that excludes the spiritual state of Old Covenant Israel, her covenant promises and her blood guilt as well as her impending judgment at the end of her covenant age is prima facie false .
Revelation 20 being the only place in scriptures where the resurrection is tied with the Millennium it is from there the logical argument disproves major components of Full Preterism.
Amillenialism, and post millennialism. The first few verses (1-3) are characterized by a description of a person being arrested (a great chain) thrown in jail, (threw him into the pit) and the door locked (shut it and sealed it over him). Verse 7 states, “be released from his prison.” Because he is “bound” with chains the preterit falsely associates the imprisonment with “binding of authority” but the language is plain and clear and the logic is simple, “if satan is in prison he is not still free to deceive the nations. If his authority is bound which only refers to Christians in binding him then this does not stop him from deceiving the people as deception is not bound with spiritual authority. Gentiles do not bind satan. It is from the following verses we fundamentally dismantle
Preterism primary concepts.
Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.
What follows is a logical process of the implication in regards to the
Preterist paradigm. Not one of the verses above are considered or exhibit metaphoric language. Nor can it be demonstrated that the interpretation needs any help and the plain meaning makes sense. In defense someone stated the “dead bury the dead” to prove the case in how these “dead” people are to be understood but the very words demonstrate the principle, “dead cannot bury dead people” therefore the phrase is metaphorical as it does not make sense on its own. These verses also are not considered in any case Hebrew idioms.
Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. – Rev 11:6 And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones
before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, Rev 4:4 …a door standing open in heaven!... Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads.
The scene that follows plays out in verses Rev 20:4-6 is in heaven.
I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands.
The picture is of dead people, people who had died by the hand of the beast. These are saints who died during the persecution. (not Jews) Now catch the power of this, they were killed during the persecution (in
Preterist terms) which is between 64 AD and 70 AD. These dead people are in Heaven. Not in hades.
Ed Steven’s states, “resurrection of the dead (out of hades): this is one of the most common Biblical phrases that is used to identify the eschatological resurrection (i.e., the resurrection at the Last Day). The phrase “resurrection of the dead” is therefore talking about a resurrection of disembodied SOULS out of Hades”
IF the resurrection is people out of Hades in 70 AD then how do these people get into heaven before the resurrection of the dead out of Hades? IF the resurrection of the dead ones are out of Hades then there can be no “beheaded saints” in heaven they must be in Hades according to the premise of the statement of Ed Stevens.
Where were the Dead Ones? In Sheol-Hades. The only way the dead ones could get
out of there was by being raised back out of there by God. And so, the resurrection of
the "dead ones " (who were in Hades) would have to be talking about the raising of
those dead disembodied saints back out of Hades.
It cannot be any clearer, John see’s dead ones out of hades standing before the throne. Granted Ed Stevens believes in two resurrections one that happens before the Millennium and one after. This would then be posited at 33 AD after his resurrection which we again have a problem. How can people who were beheaded between 64 AD and 70 AD be raised in 33 AD?
Mathew 27:52 states, “The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.” This would then posit a Resurrection as happening after 33 AD but unlike Ed Stevens assertion these souls did not come out of hades and go to heaven they went into their fleshly bodies first! Therefore, this proves the resurrection is physical according to Ed Stevens argument to remain consistent.
Don Preston has a similar problem. He believes the resurrection of the dead happens after the Millennium but the word is plain and clear, “They reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” People cannot be raised after the Millennium and still reign with him during the “40 years”. The word “with” demands “after with”, after they had been raised they are now with .
They came to life; we must ask then how does a person who is dead come to life. The answer: This is the first resurrection. Then get the power of this! Dead people are according to Paul, “a new creation in Christ” and have died and now in heaven. Then the only way they can come back to life is by resurrection, the soul reentering the body and the body “standing again”. Exactly as Christ did.
Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.
Now many assert a two-part resurrection. Larry Siegel summed up the position by stating,
It was the “hope of Israel” (Acts 28:20), foretold in the OT prophets (Isa. 26:19; Ezek. 37:1-13; Hos. 13:14), and during the “last days” (Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:16-21) involved two-stages of one resurrection, from sin-death that entered into the world through Adam (Rom. 5:12). The resurrection was a process that began with Pentecost and completed with the “end of the age” in 70 CE.
What he asserts that the first part of the resurrection is the new birth but when it comes to explaining what is the resurrection of the unjust he avoids the word all together, they are simply raised out of Hades and faced judgment.
while those “unrighteous” were sentenced to everlasting “cutting off” from the presence of God in destruction (Matt. 25:46).
Of course they cannot apply their meaning of resurrection to the unjust. To remain consistent then if the dead people are raised to new life in the heaven the second resurrection is that of the unjust rising to “bodily form” to face judgment for deeds done whole in the body.
The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection.
Let’s make the point very clear: They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years… did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.
There is no way any person can come to any other conclusion that Revelation 20 proclaims the first resurrection taking place at the beginning of the Mill and the second after the mill has ended.
The Preterist position requires a disjointed concept of fulfillment as they cannot remain consistent in its definitions and chronology. The above also demonstrates the inconsistencies even between top leading teachers in the movement. Until the question can be answered by
Preterist with any sense of consistency or honesty, we simply cannot have dead people in heaven, killed by the beast, coming to life without physical resurrection. The dodge was claiming, “the Bible does not tell us” or can they explain what it means to come to life after being dead and in heaven even though the verse states “this is the first resurrection”.
Then the futurist position that holds to a first resurrection of the dead of the just is posited in a future event it requires and demands a physical resurrection based on dead people in heaven come back to life and the Bible calls this, “The first resurrection”. Those in Hades were released in 33 AD as exemplified by Mathew 27:52, the first fruits. The resurrection is posited at the end of the millennium for those to face the final judgment.