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.