Response to JT on What Premillennialists Must Believe

Justin Taylor writes:

when Christ returns, the NT is clear that a number of things will end at that time (sin, corruption, death) and a number of things will begin at that time (our physical resurrection, final judgment, new heavens and new earth). In other words, when Christ returns, it’s “curtains” on sin and death. But in Premillennialism, there are still a thousand years of sin and death and corruption. I don’t want to be insensitive to my Premillennial friends, but it struck me a few years ago that the Premillennial position seems relatively depressing: Christ returns–but death and sin and rebellion continue. Now I know that our feelings can’t determine our exegesis (i.e., Premillennialism seems depressing, therefore it can’t be true)–and yet at the same time I think I feel that way precisely because the consistent testimony of the NT leads one to confidently expect that judgment, resurrection, and the death of sin and physical death will all happen at the blessed and glorious return of Christ. I know others will disagree, but this strikes me as a fatal weakness of Premillennialism.

My response to this is simple: at many points in the Old Testament, it looks as though when the Messiah comes everything is going to be consummated. As Justin nicely puts it, “‘curtains’ on sin and death.” Surprisingly, the Messiah came, and not everything in Isaiah 11 or 61 was realized all at once. What looked like one coming in the Old Testament was split into two comings, with a lot of time in between. From the eagerness of the disciples to reject the idea that Jesus was going to suffer in Jerusalem, and from their desire to see the kingdom restored to Israel in Acts 1, they seem to agree with Justin that the continuation of sin and death is depressing.

Now that Jesus has come, of course, we can look back on the OT and see statements that fit with a first and second coming.

So you can see where I’m going: as I said in the panel discussion, our task is to understand how everything the Bible says fits together. Obviously he wouldn’t argue that the OT indications that the coming of the Messiah will be accompanied by the reverse of the curse are a “fatal weakness” for what the NT says about Jesus having come once and promising that he will come again. Nor would he argue that the Gospels saying that Judas hung himself is a “fatal weakness” for the testimony in Acts that Judas fell headlong and his insides burst out. Nor, in my judgment, do the things Paul says about the second coming in 1 Corinthians 15 preclude what John says about the Millennium in Revelation 20.

46 Responses to Response to JT on What Premillennialists Must Believe

  1. Denny Burk October 7, 2009 at 7:20 am #

    Right on, brother!

  2. Justin Taylor October 7, 2009 at 7:34 am #

    Thanks, Jim!

    So would you say that Paul is engaged in prophetic foreshortening in a similar way that the OT is? In your view did Paul know about the millennium but chose to bypass it, or is it possible that (like the OTers) he had a true yet incomplete understanding of how this would work out, requiring further revelation for what this would look like?

    JT

  3. Paul Cable October 7, 2009 at 7:44 am #

    Dr. Hamilton,
    This was a great video! I really appreciate the analogy between the surprisingly “complex” fulfillment of Messianic/eschatological expectation in the Old Testament and the possibility of a similarly “complex” second coming of Christ. In other words, there is precedent for later revelation (i.e. Rev. 20) to introduce new wrinkles into a previously apparently clear issue. Am I right, though, that this argument presupposes a premil reading of Rev. 20? That is, does this argument only work against the “I’m amil because Rev. 20 shouldn’t govern all the other texts” argument?
    Thanks to you and the others for a lively discussion and a fun video!
    Paul Cable

  4. stephenleecavness October 7, 2009 at 8:03 am #

    My response to this is simple: at many points in the Old Testament, it looks as though when the Messiah comes everything is going to be consummated. As Justin nicely puts it, “‘curtains’ on sin and death.” Surprisingly, the Messiah came, and not everything in Isaiah 11 or 61 was realized all at once. What looked like one coming in the Old Testament was split into two comings, with a lot of time in between.

    so does this mean that when christ returns, he will return twice??

    i get that when jesus came the first time that it wasn’t in the way that was expected, that he came as teh suffering servant. his coming as judge will be upon his return. there are 2 parts to his “coming”. first for redemption, second for judgment.

    unless i am misunderstanding you (which is entirely possible)just because when jesus came the first time and people wrongly assumed he would “do it all” at that time, doesn’t mean that we have misunderstood when he says he is coming back for judgment. the new testament gave us clarity as to his purpose. how can we further misunderstand the purpose for his second coming? (not the “way” mind you, but the purpose).

  5. Jim Hamilton October 7, 2009 at 8:47 am #

    Justin,

    Honestly I’m not sure how much Paul knew, but for whatever reason he is not as detailed on the end of all things as John is in Revelation. I suspect that Paul was aware of the debates reflected in other Jewish literature over whether the kingdom of the messiah would be part of this age or be fully in the age to come, but evidently he didn’t think engaging that issue was relevant as he addressed the issues in Corinth and elsewhere. . .

    To answer your questions directly:

    If he did know, he evidently didn’t think he needed to go into it.

    If he didn’t know of it, then yes, I would say his understanding was true but incomplete, and I would think that like the OT prophets there is prophetic foreshortening at work in his mind. . .

    Thanks for the interaction!

    Jim

  6. Jim Hamilton October 7, 2009 at 9:26 am #

    Paul,

    Thanks for your note. Yes, and I think that Rev 20 is clear, and that non pre-mil readings fail to give convincing explanations of it.

    JMH

  7. Jim Hamilton October 7, 2009 at 9:28 am #

    Stephenleecavness,

    I don’t think we misunderstand it. I think more revelation has been given that informs our understanding of earlier revelation,

    JMH

  8. John October 7, 2009 at 10:17 am #

    Jim,

    In your view does what is the scope of the judgment in Revelation 19? Is it universal or partial (maybe for Israel only)? I’ll tip my hand and say that it is universal. If you say that it is universal, then I wonder from where Gog and Magog in Revelation 20 arise.

    What say you?

    John Meade

  9. Ted Bigelow October 7, 2009 at 10:19 am #

    Jim,

    Do you owe an answer to Sam: where do the nations in Rev. 20:8 come from?

  10. Jim Hamilton October 7, 2009 at 10:31 am #

    John & Ted,

    These are questions that the text does not address. Thus, we lack information that would enable us to put together a comprehensive picture.

    The text does indicate, however, that there is a sequence from Rev 19 to Rev 20–the beast and false prophet are thrown into the lake of fire, then Satan is bound and sealed in a pit for a thousand years, then released, defeated, and thrown into the lake of fire where the beast and false prophet already were. That’s clear from the text. So clear that it seems to me that attempts to make Rev 19 and 20 into something other than a sequence do violence to Rev 20.

    So I’m hesitant to give answers that the text doesn’t give, but I’m willing to entertain the possibility that everyone present in Rev 19 was killed with the sword from Jesus’ mouth, and perhaps there were unbelievers hidden away somewhere who enter the millennium and live under Jesus’ beneficent rule but aren’t really for him. When they get the chance to rebel and join Satan, they do so.

    Such a possibility seems less difficult than saying that Rev 19 and 20 are not describing a sequence but describing the same event. I don’t think the actual details of the two texts let us go there.

    So the amil view’s problem is the information actually given in the text, while the premil view’s problem is that it needs more information that the text does not give (where the nations and Gog and Magog come from).

    I want to believe everything the text says and await further revelation,

    JMH

    • John October 7, 2009 at 5:23 pm #

      Jim and Ted,

      I’m wondering about the so called sequence language here, kai eidon. Of course this language could be read this way after the pattern of the Hebrew narrative, but John seems to use meta tauta in 18:1 and 19:1 and elsewhere to show sequence of some type, whether chronological or at least the succession of the events in the vision, which are most likely not chronological. This phrase is not used exactly where the Premill. argument would like it to be.

      I’m also a little intrigued by Jim’s comment, “These are questions that the text does not address. Thus, we lack information that would enable us to put together a comprehensive picture.” Jim, do you think the reference to Gog and Magog and the nations could be inserted into 20 in order to indicate that the sequential reading of the text is misguided and to affirm the recapitulation way of reading the text, which has characterized the book of Revelation up to this point? It seems to me the text does address these questions, but not in the manner of NT epistles.

      Furthermore, Satan is bound in some sense, as a consequence of Christ’s first coming, right (Matt. 12:29)? Are you arguing for a different binding from this one? What is the difference?

      • Jim Hamilton October 7, 2009 at 6:43 pm #

        John,

        I think the kai eidon’s could simply be references to what John saw next, so I’m not pointing to sequence in them. I’m pointing to sequence in the events. First the beast and FP are thrown into the lake of fire, then the thousand years go by, then Satan is thrown into the lake of fire.

        As for Gog and Magog and the nations, maybe Zech 14:16-19 speaks to the issue. . . Rev 21:24-27 and 22:15 may also speak to an analogous presence of the unredeemed even after they have been judged, though they cannot enter the city. . . I want to think more on these texts.

        As for the binding of Satan, note this comment in my post on Sam’s thrones argument:

        Note, too, that Satan uses the beast to deceive the nations with his faked crucifixion and resurrection (the healing of the mortal wound to one of his heads) in Revelation 13:1-8, and compare that with the way that Revelation 20:3 says Satan will not deceive the nations during the thousand years (see esp. Rev 13:7 and 20:3).

        I think comparing Rev 13 with Rev 20:1-3 shows that the two passages are not talking about the same period of time. . .

        Blessings!

        JMH

      • Ted Bigelow October 7, 2009 at 7:34 pm #

        Hi John, Greetings,

        I’m still good with the “kai eidon” being sequential. Used 32 times in Revelation, that little phrase always refers to what John saw NEXT. Thus Jim’s comment above, “what John saw next.” That’s a pretty straightforward way to express sequence. Meaning this: “kai eidon” does not express John seeing something that he saw before. It is the next thing. This fits in with Jim’s excellent observation above, regarding Satan’s future. It necessitates sequence. And Jim’s point about anastasis (resurrection) being physical – has always been a point the amil position is left hanging on, because they have to invent a meaning (intermediate state, or regeneration) to fit their system.

        Where Jim differs from many pre-mils is that he regards the 42 months as a symbol of the the church age.

        Many others regard the 42 months as 42 months.

        This literalism is reinforced by John’s the mention of 1260 days twice in Revelation, in the same context where the 42 months are mentioned. You see, if 42 months is symbolic, then what is the symbol of the 1260 days? Who is to say? But if the 42 months are literal, then the 1260 days are literal, and the text is not symbolic, but literal.

      • John October 8, 2009 at 3:45 am #

        Jim,

        Thanks for your response. I will think more carefully on the texts you mentioned as well.

        Don’t you think that Rev. 21:24-27 is simply symbolic language intended to describe the grandeur and power of the city (Psalm 72:8ff)? He is commenting on the dwelling of the people of God in the context, and I think that Rev. 21 certainly indicates that there will be no more evil or those who dwell outside of the city (21:1-4).

        I think 21:27 and 22:15 function as warnings to John’s audience and to us. These are texts which exhort us to endurance, since apostates will not enter the city. Only those who are in the lamb’s book of life will enter it. Rev. 21 is not saying that there are simultaneously righteous ones and wicked ones in the new heavens and the new earth. John is simply describing the membership of the people of God in the new heavens and the new earth. The Amil view does not have a problem here, since he believes that the millennium is now, and when Christ returns he brings the consummation of the new heavens and the new earth with him. Revelation 20 describes the present and the future last battle. After the last battle comes the new heavens and the new earth in their fullness.

        I do see Revelation 20:1-3 as a recapitulation of Revelation 13. It fits the pattern of the book of Revelation in general. The casting down of Satan in Rev. 13 is the result of Christ’s work in his first coming. I also see that Satan is bound as a result of Christ’s first coming according to the rest of the NT since he no longer deceives the nations like he once did. Thus 1 Peter 5 and 1 Thess. 3 and other texts like these report the present activity of Satan, but they in no way report that Satan has authority to deceive the nations as he did in the past. Rather both of those letters, written to Gentiles, testify to the fact that Satan is no longer deceiving the nations as he once did. Instead the nations are turning from idols to worship the true and living God (1 Thess. 1:9-10) as a result of Christ’s first coming and they are waiting for his return. Other texts from the NT which support this view of the present binding of Satan as a result of Christ’s first coming would be Hebrews 2:10ff and 1 John 3:8.

        This comment went longer than anticipated. Thanks for reading.

      • John October 8, 2009 at 4:16 am #

        Where I have Rev. 13 should read Rev. 12. My apologies.

      • Jim Hamilton October 8, 2009 at 8:53 am #

        John,

        I would see Satan cast out of heaven as a result of the cross of Christ in Rev 12:7-12, but then note how he goes and makes war on the woman and her seed, i.e., the righteous, the church, in 12:13-17. Then note how he does deceive the nations in Rev 13 (esp. 13:7, where he has “authority” over all nations).

        I don’t think your explanation deals with these textual realities in a satisfying way,

        JMH

      • John October 9, 2009 at 3:20 am #

        Ted,

        I only have one comment in response to your “literal” reading of the numbers in Revelation. How do you interpret John’s usage of the verb σημαινω in Revelation 1:3? As I understand it, this verb means “to communicate through signs or symbols.”

        This is the meaning of the verb in the Greek version of Daniel 2, where each element of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream is interpreted as a symbol, which is reality depicting. It is also the meaning of σημειον in John’s Gospel, since Jesus’ signs are not the reality in themselves, but rather they are pointing beyond themselves to a deeper reality: Jesus Christ is the Son of God. In the same way John uses literary symbols to communicate God’s message to his people.

        Blessings,
        John

      • Ted Bigelow October 9, 2009 at 7:42 am #

        Hi John, greetings, brother,

        I think you are referring to σημαινω in Revelation 1:1 not 1:3? If so, my response is:

        1) This is direct communication from the Father, through Christ, then through His angel, to the apostle John about how the contents of Revelation will be communicated to him, not to you, or me. From John there the contents of Revelation will be delivered to the churches of Asia. The word σημαινω indicates John will receive the contents of this book in a non-literal fashion, and will write down what he receives. It is not in any sense license for us to interpret the book in a non-literal fashion. It is therefore a statement about how the Revelation would be communicated to John, not about the hermeneutic process God wants his own to interpret it by.

        2) Like Daniel 2, Revelation 1 provides explanation for the symbolism given – the 7 lamp-stands are the 7 churches – 1:20. No symbolic numbers in John’s inetepretation. 7 means 7. But yet, while in most of Revelation we are not provided the anti-type, we are obligated to interpret the book with a grammatical-historical hermeneutic. This limits human subjectivity and provides a basis upon which competing interpretation can be evaluated. Otherwise we risk exalting our own symbolic interpretations of Revelation to the level of John (who alone could provide inspired anti-types). If we refused to offer our own anti-types, we wouldn’t have a pre-mil saying the church age is the 42 months symbolized, while the amil says it is the 1000 years symbolized. For this, we have only their their rationale for support. But if the inspired apostle is silent on it on the anti-type, and he is able to give inspired anti-types, why would I want to offer my own?

        3) Please note the use of the word “prophecy” in 1:3 (4x in Rev. 22). This provides us with the author’s own understanding of what he was writing, and indeed, how God wants us to evaluate this entire book. John does not call it “apocalyptic genre” and give us permission to interpret it with different interpretive rules than the rest of Scripture. Indeed, Peter’s words should control us: “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:20-21). So the believer is far better off interpreting the book of Revelation with the same hermeneutic rules as he would 2 Peter, or Romans, for both are “prophecy.”

        Grace and peace – Ted

      • John October 9, 2009 at 7:39 pm #

        Ted,

        You’re right, it’s verse 1.

        1) I’m not convinced by your understanding of verse 1. The book opens as the apocalypse of Jesus Christ, which God gave…and communicated by signs sending (it) through his angel to his servant, John. Although the word prophecy is used to describe the book in 1:3 and other places, so is the word apocalypse. The OT prophecies often employ symbolism in their prophecies which must be interpreted accordingly and not in a straightforward manner as 1 Peter etc.

        2) Ted, Revelation does not interpret all of the symbols. It is not made explicitly clear who the woman is chapter 12. He does not come out and say that she is the church for example. Rather, the interpreter needs to piece the riddles together in order to come up with a satisfying answer. In that sense, the book warns us that it was communicated to John in symbols or signs. Therefore, the perfectly round numbers seem to indicate perfection and good things, while the numbers less than 7 or round numbers seem to indicate the opposite.

        3) I think that your point in number three is both helpful and skews the issues. If course we are not at liberty to interpret the book according to our own wisdom. However, that is not the same thing as recognizing that God has communicated through Apocalyptic literature and that He expects his people to interpret it according to how He revealed it. Those who interpret the numbers and other elements as reality depicting symbols do not do so out of the need to be creative. They do so because they believe that God actually intended the text to be understood in this way. They do so because they take σημαινω in 1:1 at its word, and they should interpret the book according to how it was originally revealed. In this general way, one can interpret 1 Peter and Revelation in the same way, that is, as according to the manner in which the author intended it to be read. But given the presence of different genres in the Bible, one must interpret the Scripture according to the rules of each genre.

        We interpret texts this way intuitively, and it is not worth going into all of the examples. But suffice it to say we interpret Jesus’ parables differently than we interpret the surrounding historical narrative of the gospels. We also interpret prophetic and wisdom literature differently than we do historical narrative or epistolary literature. In this way we also interpret the literature of Daniel, Zechariah, and Revelation differently than we do Romans.

        But at every turn the interpreter is concerned to interpret the text according to how God has originally revealed it, and in this way we come to the intention and meaning of the text.

    • John October 8, 2009 at 9:57 am #

      Jim,

      Who is the beast in Revelation according to your view? The beast is described with the language of the beasts in Daniel 7, right? The passive of didomi (authority was given to him) and other parallels (Rev. 13:1 indicates that the beast comes up from the sea) seems to confirm this connection. Do you see Satan working behind this beast or Satan as the beast itself?

      It seems to me they are different. So I don’t read Chapter 13 through chapter 12. The beast represents the state, not Satan. The beast has authority over those whose names are not written in the lamb’s book of life, but this is far different than saying that he has the ability to deceive the nations in toto, which is what I think Rev. 20:1-3 indicates. The same language of tribe, tongue, and nation occurs in Rev. 5, over whom the beast has no authority. I think John’s view of the work of Satan includes his total domination over the nations until he is cast out of heaven or bound and cast into the abyss (we can remember the temptation of Christ where he promises to give the nations to Christ). Now he is a defeated foe who has not much time left. He has some ability, but his binding at the first coming of Christ insures that he no longer has total domination over the nations for the millennium in order to deceive them. At the end of the millennium he will again have power to raise up Gog and Magog and nations for one last battle against Christ and at that time he will be cast into the lake of fire. This interpretation makes sense of Gog and Magog in Revelation 20. Satan raises up his army before the final judgment.

      Jim, you have not given an explanation of the other NT texts which speak of the Devil’s defeat in the already. What is your view on this? I guess this is the point I find most unsatisfying about the Premill view of the binding of Satan. They want a future binding of Satan, whose work has already been destroyed by Christ’s work on the cross.

      • Jim Hamilton October 8, 2009 at 10:30 am #

        There’s a false trinity in Revelation that consists of the Dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet (16:13). The Dragon is identified with Satan, and the Beast seems to be summoned forth from the deep by Satan in 12:17-13:1. The beast seems to be interpreted as the wicked world system, in John’s day epitomized by Rome, in 17:1-18. I think that Rome is “typical” of the powers of the world that are ranged against God and his kingdom.

        Satan is already defeated by Christ on the cross, and he was cast out of heaven in 12:7-12, which I think points to his loss of standing in the heavenly court–his accusations have been thrown out. But he still has a little time (12:12-17) in which he exercises authority over the nations (13:4, 7) because he has not yet been bound as he will be in the Millennium, and he has not yet been cast into the lake of fire as he will be after the final rebellion.

        JMH

      • John October 8, 2009 at 2:14 pm #

        Thanks for your responses, Jim. I agree with your first paragraph, but I’m not fully convinced by your second for reasons I have already given. Unfortunately, I have run out of time for dialogue. Thanks again for the interaction over these issues.

        Blessings,
        John

  11. Fred Butler October 7, 2009 at 11:27 am #

    Jim, loved your holy ghost book, by the way.

    Ted wrote: “where do the nations in Rev. 20:8 come from?”

    Zechariah 14:16ff. implies it is those individuals who were left from those who “did not come up against Jerusalem.” I think the prophet provides a good answer to Justin’s comment.

    Fred

    • Ted Bigelow October 7, 2009 at 7:37 pm #

      Yes, I see it, Freddy! Thanks, I didn’t think of that one.

  12. Ted Bigelow October 7, 2009 at 11:50 am #

    Amen! Thanks Jim!

    I love how your answer to me and John uses the sequence word, “then”: “then… then… then” – just like the use of the phrase, “then I saw,” “kai eidon” in Revelation 20 – sequence words. For if John were going to write recapitulation, wouldn’t he use words that would tell the reader that?

    So thanks for being so clear. And like you say, the text of Rev. 19-20 clearly tells of Satan’s “career” during this time in a time sequence fashion.

    May I offer a well-known solution to the “nations” problem?

    First, the deaths of Rev. 19:18ff are to be regarded as extensive as Sam said – its everybody, except believers, who live through that time and have not been martyred, or otherwise naturally died and gone to heaven (So Sam doesn’t have to give up his innerancy :)). Second, the millennial nations are comprised of the beleivers of every nation who live through the tribulation and enter into the millennium (Mat. 25:32-34, Isa 2:2).

    Jim, I think Sam got you on this point! We don’t need to hypothesize “hidden unbelievers” here. Just allow for unregenerate children of those who enter the millennium! – Love – T

  13. Edson Macedo October 7, 2009 at 5:58 pm #

    Pr. Hamilton,

    Congratulations for your performance in the debate, I learned a lot from you. I’m from Brazil and here we don’t have many pre-millennial post-tribulation.
    I wonder how to fit the parable of the weeds of the field in the pre-millennial perspective, since Jesus speaks of a separation only in the end.
    “and the enemy who sowed them is the devil.(BA) The harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels.”

    You mentioned that the millennium belongs to this era was not it? Then the rapture would not be a separation of the wheat in advance?

    This answer is crucial for me to adopt a position. So, help me…

    Thanks!

    PS: Sorry for my bad english.

    • Jim Hamilton October 7, 2009 at 6:47 pm #

      Edson,

      I don’t think the two harvests have to be separated by the 7 years for them to be separate. Look at the two harvests in Revelation 14:14-16 (of the righteous) and 14:17-20 (of the wicked).

      Blessings!

      JMH

      • Edson Macedo October 8, 2009 at 6:03 am #

        Pr. Hamilton,

        I’m not dispensationalist, my doubt is between amillennialism and historic premillennialism.

        My biggest problems whith amillennialism are Revelation 19:15 – “he will rule them with a rod of iron” and Rev. 20

        My biggest problem whith historic premillennialism is “the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe”. These two harvests in Revelation 14:14-16 (of the righteous) and 14:17-20 (of the wicked)occur before the millennium? If the millennium belongs to this era, then they should not occur only at the end of the millennium?

        I need decide which position is less problematic…

        Thanks for your big help and attention.

      • Jim Hamilton October 8, 2009 at 8:58 am #

        I’m not arguing for a strictly sequential reading of the book. So I think that at the end of ch. 6 we’re at the end of history, then at the end of ch. 11 we’re at the end of history, and at the two harvests in Rev 14 we’re at the end of history.

        Then Rev 20 fills in details that were not included in the earlier depictions.

        Hope this helps!

        JMH

  14. Alan K October 7, 2009 at 7:18 pm #

    Jim,

    Showing that the Second Coming is a complex event is important, but I think that many amillers (and premillers) fail to see that the Second Coming includes the millennium. The term parousia (presence) comports with his ongoing activity after he renders judgment upon the ungodly.

    It is not that Christ comes in the clouds and renders his judgment and the moment he steps on the earth his parousia is terminated. By definition his parousia-presence continues in the Kingdom on earth.

    So as a prewrath premilliennialist, what the premiller should be stressing against the amill position is that Christ does in fact defeat sin, death, and corruption at his Second Coming, which will ultimately happen toward the end of it at the culmination of the millennium.

    This premiller does not deny that at the Second Coming sin and death is done away with — I affirm it! I just do not have the misguided concept of parousia as pretrib premills and amills do.

    • Edson Macedo October 8, 2009 at 6:34 am #

      Alan,

      The Parable of the Ten Virgins (Mathew 25)shows that (v.10) the door was shut after second coming. I must conclude that there will be no salvation during the millennium? (sorry for my english). How I can harmonize this idea with Isaiah 2:2-4 (many peoples saying: Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths…

      Thank you!

      PS: I’m just asking and not debating. I need define my position.

  15. Andrew Barlow October 7, 2009 at 8:15 pm #

    Dr. Hamilton,

    Thanks for the forum and the great posts. Here are a few comments to stir the pot a little more.

    First, you said:

    “So the amil view’s problem is the information actually given in the text, while the premil view’s problem is that it needs more information that the text does not give (where the nations and Gog and Magog come from).”

    Do you think this statement is entirely fair given the fact that Gog and Magog are indeed problems for the premil view “actually given in the text?” Just as the amil position seeks to explains the “problems” in the text(though not to the satisfaction of the premillenialist), so the premil position seeks to explain other problems “actually given in the text”(though not to the satisfaction of the amillenialist). Your statement, therefore, seems to be a bit of a rhetorical cheap shot at the amil view that doesn’t fully admit the textual problems facing the premillenialist.

    Secondly, just a question about Revelation 13:1-8. You said:

    “Note, too, that Satan uses the beast to deceive the nations with his faked crucifixion and resurrection (the healing of the mortal wound to one of his heads) in Revelation 13:1-8, and compare that with the way that Revelation 20:3 says Satan will not deceive the nations during the thousand years (see esp. Rev 13:7 and 20:3).”

    Is it possible that this passage, where Satan uses the beast to deceive the nations, actually coincides with the release of Satan in Revelation 20:3? If he is bound in Rev 20 from deceiving the nations, then his release would mean a release to deceive the nations again. Could he not work this deceptive influence through the beast? Could not Rev 13:7 and the last part of Rev 20:3 be speaking of the same reality?

    Third, 2 Cor 4:4 is often cited as proof that Rev 20 is not speaking of the church age. “Satan,” it is argued, “is obviously deceiving the nations right now.” But doesn’t this miss the fact that 4:6 speaks of God’s sovereign activity of creating new spiritual life in those among the nations whose minds were blinded by Satan? As the gospel goes out, Satan cannot hold the nations (among whom the Corinthians were a part) in darkness b/c God’s Spirit breaks the power of his deceptive influence. Therefore, I do not think that 2 Cor 4:4 is incompatible with an amil view of Rev 20:1-3, anymore than I think it is incompatible to hold that believers have died to sin’s tyranny, and yet sin can at times reign in our mortal bodies (Rom 6:1-12).

    God Bless

    Andrew Barlow

    • Jim Hamilton October 8, 2009 at 8:47 am #

      Andrew,

      Not a rhetorical cheap shot: the premil problem affirms what the text says and simply awaits further information on how it’s all to be put together. It seems to me that the amil problem arises from trying to make what the text says mean something other than what it says. That’s what I mean. . . so I’m not taking cheap shots.

      The only way to make Rev 20:3 coincide with what we see in Rev 13 is to disregard the details of the two texts. Rev 13 speaks of a 42 month period (13:5). All interpreters agree that 42 month period is interpreting Daniel’s 70th week. There are various disagreements on the referent of that period of time (the whole of the church age, or half of a final 7 yrs literally understood as the final tribulation), but basically everyone agrees that the 42 months is on this side of the second coming. I think the details of Rev 20 are to be understood as taking place after the second coming, and I don’t see any evidence that John meant to indicate that the 1,000 years is the same period of time as the 42 months.

      I grant that God saves people and delivers them from Satan now. It seems to me that Rev 20:1-3 speaks of a binding of Satan that will make it so that he is not blinding anyone in the way that he is blinding people now.

      Blessings!

      JMH

  16. Scott Christensen October 8, 2009 at 12:42 am #

    Jim,
    You said the presence of unbelievers in the millennium is the hardest part of reconciling premillennialism. The dispensationalist would say that the nations of Rev. 20:8 are the eventual unbelieving offspring of tribulation believers who were alive at the second coming and enter the millenium in an unglorified state. This obviously presupposes that the church was raptured prior to that time and are in fact in “heaven” with Christ prior to His return (Rev. 19:11, 14). The identity of the armies from Rev. 19:14 matches that of the bride in vs. 8 which can be none other than the church if I understand the passage correctly. But I realize that this would not correspond to the rest of your understanding of Revelation in which it seems you do not agree that the tribulation described therein is a literal 7 year period just prior to the second coming (i.e. Daniel’s 70th week). In either case, I thought your challenges to Sam went unanswered and he surely did flaten out the interpretation of Rev. 13 and 20.

  17. Scott Christensen October 8, 2009 at 12:53 am #

    Other thoughts on the round-table discussion:

    I thought Doug Wilson was very pleasant in his arguments and demonstrated real humility in his position even though I thought it was the weakest of the three. I guess I wouldn’t have expected that of him. I thought Sam got quite a bit agitated toward the end that almost sullied his presentation. Also I thought his comment about having to reject inerrancy if your interpretation of Rev. 20 was true was over the top. In fact, it was the only uncharitable statement of the discussion. I can’t imagine that he would not have been ashamed to have said that in the presence of his mentor S. Lewis Johnson who was a pre-millennialist.

  18. JohnGreenview October 8, 2009 at 9:37 am #

    Hi Jim

    I was brought up a dispensationalist. In my twenties I became convinced dispensationalism was wrong and through reading Eldon Ladd I embraced premillenialism. I kind of still am a premillenialist. A premillenialist, however, drawn to amillenialism.

    The weakness in your argument is that the OT is a field of partial revelation whereas the NT presents itself as fulfilment. It is like a mystery reaching a denouement. This makes the idea of yet further denouement highly improbable.

    For me the dilemma is Revelation 20 (and Gog Magaog Ezekiel passages) most naturally read premillenially whereas as JT points out the rest of Scripture most naturally reads amillenially.

  19. Stephen October 8, 2009 at 6:42 pm #

    Touche!

  20. JohnGreenview October 9, 2009 at 3:20 am #

    Oh dear, my spelling of premillennialist etc is consistently wrong in above blog. My excuse is it was late at night over here.

  21. Ted Bigelow October 7, 2009 at 8:26 am #

    I think Jim has put his finger on it –> allowing each text to speak for itself, instead of making some texts “rule over” other texts. One approach that yields satisfactory information on this is to make a list of the passages that refer to the “Day of the Lord” and all that is included in that eschatological topic. One will find warfare, judgment, blessing, earthly prosperity, righteousness, etc. all included in that Day.

    For a good resource, I recommend “Maranatha Our Lord, Come!” by Renald Showers.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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