Quick Guide to Four Views of the End Times

[Articles in the Multiple Views series are intended to present various views held by Christians, in an objective and unbiased manner]

Amillennialism Postmillennialism  Dispensational Premillennialism Historical Premillennialism

What is ammillennialism?

  • The view that the millennium is the spiritual reign of Jesus in the hearts of his followers
  • The first resurrection in Revelation 20:5 is not a physical restoration from the dead but is either
  1. the spiritual resurrection, also known as regeneration, OR
  2. the life that believers experience with God between their deaths and their final resurrection
  • Christ’s triumph over Satan through his death and resurrection around AD 30 restrained the power of Satan on earth (Revelation 20:1-3).
  • Persecution of Christians (tribulation) will occur until Jesus comes again, as will the expansion of God’s kingdom (the millennium).
  • When Christ returns, he will immediately defeat the power of evil, resurrect the saved and unsaved, judge them, and deliver them to their eternal destinies.
 What is postmillennialism?

  • The view that believes that the coming of Christ will occur after the millennium.
  • The millennium reign in Revelation 20:1-6 represents a long time period when, through the preaching of the gospel, most of the world will submit to Jesus Christ.
  • During this time, Satan will have no power over the earth and regimes will collapse (Revelation 19:19 – 20:3).
  • A period of great tribulation may precede the millennium.

What is dispensational premillennialism?

  • The view that Jesus will come back to earth after a seven-year tribulation and will rule during a thousand-year millennium of peace on earth.
  • In addition, God will still give to the nation of Israel the land described in Genesis 15:18 (from the river of Egypt to the river Euphrates – the full extent of King Soloman’s kingdom).

What is historical premillennialism?

  • This view believes that Christians will remain on the earth during the great tribulation.
  • The tribulation will purify the churches by rooting out false believers, and the second coming of Christ will precede the millennium.
  • Like dispensational premillennialists, historical premillennialists see the millennium – the thousand-year reign of Jesus – as a literal, future event.

What do amillennialists emphasize?

  • Many amillennialists believe that the book of Revelation consists of seven sections. Instead of dealing with successive time periods, these seven sections use apocalyptic language to describe the entire time from Jesus’ first coming until his second coming in seven different ways.
  • Amillennialists tend to emphasize the historical context of Revelation and what the book meant to first-century readers.

What do postmillennialists emphasize?

  • Postmillennialists place great confidence in the preaching of the gospel; they contend that the gospel will eventually spread in such a way that nearly everyone in the world will turn to Jesus Christ.
  • One Scripture cited in favor of this view is Mark 3:27. Augustine understood this verse to mean that before Jesus can claim his kingdom, those that are lost (the “possessions” of Satan, “the strong man”) must come under the control of Jesus.
  • Postmillennialists believe that this golden age is described in such Scriptures as Psalm 2:8, Isaiah 2:2-4, Jeremiah 31:34, Daniel 2:35, and Micah 4:1-4.
  • Postmillennialists tend to emphasize the power of the gospel to transform societies and individual lives.

What do dispensational premillennialists emphasize?

  • Dispensational premillennialists believe the rapture and the second coming of Jesus are two separate events. The rapture comes before the great tribulation, and the second coming occurs after it.
  • During the seven years of tribulation, natural disasters and wars will occur on earth, and people who are faithful to Jesus will suffer intense persecution.
  • Dispensational premillennialists emphasize literal interpretations of Revelation.

What do historical premillennialists emphasize?

  • Historical premillennialists try to balance symbolic and literal interpretations of Revelation, emphasizing both what the book meant to first-century readers and how it might apply to people’s lives today.

According to amillennialists …

  • The great tribulation represents disasters, wars, and persecutions that have occurred throughout church history.
  • Most references to “Israel” in Revelation are symbolic references to the people of God on earth (compare Romans 9:6-8 and Galatians 6:16).
  • In apocalyptic literature, numbers represent concepts, not literal statistics. For example, six represents incompleteness, seven represents completeness, ten indicates something that is extreme but limited, twelve represents the perfection of God’s people, and 1,000 symbolizes a great amount or long period of time.
According to postmillennialists …

  • During the millennium, Christ will rule the earth through the gospel, through his Spirit, and through the church. He will not, however, be physically present on earth.
  • The resurrection depicted in Revelation 20:4 represents the spiritual regeneration of people who trust Jesus Christ.
  • The second coming of Christ, the final conflict between good and evil, the defeat of Satan, the physical resurrection of all people, and the final judgement will occur together, immediately after the millennium (Revelation 20:7-15).

 

According to dispensational premillennialists …

  • During the great tribulation, many Jews will turn to Jesus Christ.
  • God’s promises to Abraham and his offspring were unconditional; therefore the Jews will still receive the land described in Genesis 15:18. The establishment of the modern state of Israel in 1948 fulfilled a key end times prophecy.
  • All references to Israel in Revelation refer to the nation of Israel.

According to historical premillennialists …

  • God’s promise to give Abraham all the land from the Nile River to the Euphrates River (Genesis 15:18) was made to the “offspring” of Abraham – one, particular offspring whose name is Jesus (Galatians 3:16).
  • During the millennium, Jesus will reign from Jerusalem not only over the land promised to Abraham but also over the whole earth. In this way, Jesus will completely fulfill God’s promise that Abraham’s “offspring” would gain the land from the Nile to the Euphrates.
  • The true Israelites in every age have been those who trust in Jesus as the divine Messiah-King (Romans 9:6-8; Galatians 6:16). Before Jesus arrived on earth, people trusted in Jesus by looking expectantly for a Messiah who was yet to come (Hebrews 11:13, 39-40). Most references to “Israel” in Revelation refer symbolically to the church.

What Scriptures seem to support amillennialism?

  • The Bible frequently uses the number 1,000 figuratively (Psalm 50:10; 90:4; 105:8; 2 Peter 3:8).
  • The first resurrection (Revelation 20:4) could refer to the spiritual resurrection (the regeneration or new birth) of persons who trust Christ (Romans 11:13-15; Ephesians 2:1-4). The first resurrection could also refer to a Christian’s life with Jesus after death (2 Corinthians 5:6-8).
  • The second coming of Christ and the resurrection of the saved and unsaved will occur at the same time (Daniel 12:2-3; John 5:28-29).
  • The saints are on earth during the tribulation (Revelation 13:7).

What Scriptures seem to support postmillennialism?

  • Every ethnic group will receive the gospel before the second coming (Matthew 24:14; Mark 13:10).
  • The first resurrection (Revelation 20:4) could refer to the spiritual resurrection (the regeneration or new birth)
  • of persons who trust Christ (Romans 11:13-15; Ephesians 2:1-4). The first resurrection could also refer to a Christian’s life with Jesus after death (2 Corinthians 5:6-8).
  • The second coming of Christ and the resurrection of the saved and unsaved will occur at the same time (Daniel 12:2-3; John 5:28-29).

What Scriptures seem to support dispensational premillennialism?

  • God will remove Christians before the outpouring of his wrath during the tribulation (1 Thessalonians 5:9; Revelation 3:10).
  • God’s promises to Abraham and his offspring were unconditional (Genesis 15:7-21).
  • The church is not specifically mentioned between Revelation 4 and 19.

 What Scriptures seem to support historical premillennialism?

  • The revealing of the Antichrist precedes Christ’s return (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).
  • The tribulation will root out false members from the churches (Revelation 2:22-23).
  • The saints are on earth during the tribulation (Revelation 13:7).
  • God’s promises to Abraham and his offspring were conditional (Genesis 22:18; 2 Chronicles 33:8; Isaiah 1:19-20; Jeremiah 7:6-7).
  • The New Testament frequently uses “Israel” and “the twelve tribes” to refer to Christians (Matthew 19:28-29; Romans 9:6-8).

When has amillennialism been popular?

  • Amillennialism became popular in the 5th century. It has remained widespread throughout church history.

 When has postmillennialism been popular?

  • The earliest writer who was clearly postmillennialist was Joachim of Fiore (1135 – 1202), although many historians believe that early church leaders such as Eusebius of Caesarea, Athanasius of Alexandria, and Augustine of Hippo leaned toward postmillennialism.
  • During the 1800s, postmillennialism increased in popularity. Some Christians even believed that the increased work of missionaries throughout the world represented the beginning of the millennium.
  • During the early 1900s, a world war and an economic depression raised questions in many people’s minds about whether the world was actually becoming a better place, and postmillennialism diminished in popularity.

When has dispensational premillennialism been popular?

  • This view emerged in the 1800s among the Plymouth Brethren (group of fundamental Bible Churches founded in the 1820s).
  • Dispensational premillennialism increased in popularity in the late 1800s and remains widespread today.

When has historical premillennialism been popular?

  • Historical premillennialism seems to have been the earliest view of end times among Christians who lived just after the apostles.

Who are some prominent amillennialists?

  • Martin Luther, John Calvin, E.Y. Mullins, Abraham Kuyper, G.C. Berkouwer, Herschel Hobbs, Stanley Grenz, and J.I. Packer.
  • Many students of early church history believe that the church father Augustine of Hippo (AD 354 – 430) was an early amillennialist. He once said, “During the thousand years when the devil is bound, the saints also reign for a thousand years. Without any doubt, these two time-periods are identical and point to the time between the first and second coming of Christ.” [Augustine, The City of God, 20:9]

Who are some prominent postmillennialists?

  • Jonathan Edwards, B.B. Warfield, Augustus H. Strong, Charles Hodge, R.L. Dabney, Loraine Boettner, and R.C. Sproul.

Who are some prominent dispensational premillennialists?

  • J. Nelson Darby, C.I. Scofield, Harry A. Ironside, Gleason Archer, Donald G. Barnhouse, Hal Lindsey, Chuck Smith, John MacArthur, Charles Ryrie, Charles Stanley,Norman L. Geisler, and Tim LaHaye.

Who are some prominent historical premillennialists?

  • Many early church fathers – including Lactantius (240-320), Irenaeus (130-200), Justin Martyr (100-165), and probably Papias (60-130), a disciple of the apostle John.
  • David Dockery, John Warwick Montgomery, George R. Beasley-Murray, Robert Gundry, George E. Ladd, R. Albert Mohler, and Russell Moore.

Source: Rose Guide to End-Times Prophecy (2011)

Three Views of Rapture and Return

[Articles in the Multiple Views series are intended to present various views held by Christians, in an objective and unbiased manner]

“The word “rapture” does not appear in most English translations of the New Testament. Still, “rapture” is a thoroughly biblical term.” [1] “Rapture” (the verb rapiemur, from the noun raptus) basically means “being caught up”. [2]

1 Thessalonians 4:17 talks about believers who are still alive during the return of Christ, being “caught up together with them [the dead in Christ] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air …” (NASB). The Greek word used for “caught up” is ἁρπάζω (harpazō). Strong defines it as, “catch (away, up), pluck, pull, take (by force).” [3]

It is not disputed whether or not there will be a rapture. Rather, the disagreement stems from the question of when the rapture will take place in light of the return of Jesus. Below are the simplified views of a few schools of thought:

Dispensational Premillennialism  Amillennialism and

Postmillennialism

Historical Premillennialism
 The rapture of the church and the return of Jesus occur at different times. They are separated by 7 years or more. The rapture of the church and the return of Jesus to earth happen together. This event will occur at the end of the millennium. The rapture of the church and the return of Jesus to earth happen together. This event will occur immediately before the millennium.
  •  The return of Jesus to earth will occur some time after the rapture of the church.
  • Most dispensationalists place the rapture before the tribulation and the return at the end of the tribulation, immediately before the millennium.
  • The church will be caught up to meet Jesus (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 4:1-2); the church will return to earth after the tribulation as part of the Messiah’s royal retinue (Revelation 19:14).
  •  The return of Jesus to earth will occur immediately after the rapture of the church
  • The rapture will occur at the end of the millennium.
  • The church will be caught up to meet Jesus (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 19:7-9) and will then return to earth as part of the Messiah’s royal retinue (Revelation 19:14).
  • The return of Jesus to earth will occur immediately after the rapture of the church
  • The rapture will occur after the tribulation and before the millennium.
  • The church will be caught up to meet Jesus (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 19:7-9) and will then return to earth as part of the Messiah’s royal retinue (Revelation 19:14).

Source: Rose Guide to End-Times Prophecy (2011)

[1] Rose Guide to End-Times Prophecy (2011), p.304

[2] Ibid.

[3] Strong, James. “Harpazo.” Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. Accessed November 16, 2017. http://biblehub.com/greek/726.htm

The Harlot of Revelation 17

[Articles in the Multiple Views series are intended to present various views held by Christians, in an objective and unbiased manner]

In Revelation 17, we see the Apostle John mention “a woman sitting on a scarlet beast” (Revelation 17:3). This woman “is drunk – but her inebriation does not flow from any typical liquors. Her drink of choice is the blood of the saints [seen in v.6]. She is wrapped in a harlot’s robes, and this inscription is found scrawled across her forehead: “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND THE ABOMINATION OF THE EARTH” (Revelation 17:5) …

An angel unravels the mystery of this woman’s identity. As it turns out, this scene is not about a woman at all. The woman symbolizes a city, “the great city that rules over the kings of the earth” (Revelation 17:18). But this city’s rule does not last forever. “In one day, her plagues will overtake her: death, mourning, and famine, for mighty is the Lord God who judges her” (18:8).

But what city could this woman possibly be? And when does she fall? Or could it be that she has already fallen? Here are the three possibilities for the city symbolized by the woman on the beast” [1], which has been postulated:

 What city could the harlot symbolise? When does the city fall?
  • Jerusalem – judged because of their rejection of Jesus as Messiah
  • In AD 70 when TItus beseiged the city and destroyed the temple.
  • While the defenders of Jerusalem split into three factions (Revelation 16:19), the Roman armies passed easily over the Euphrates River (Revelation 16:12).
  • During the siege, Roman catapults hurled massive white stones into the city (Revelation 16:21).
  • Rome & any other regime like ancient Rome – judged because of their exploitation and persecution for the sake of luxury and gain
  • They collapse will collapse upon themselves (Revelation 17:16-17)
  • When Jesus returns, he will destroy all such powers once and for all
  • Babylon (thought to be rebuilt in the future along the Euphrates River in Iraq)
  •  Near the end of the future seven-year tribulation.
  • This fall of Babylon is also described in Isaiah 13-14 and Jeremiah 50-51


Source
: Rose Guide to End-Times Prophecy (2011)

[1] Rose Guide to End-Times Prophecy (2011), p.261

Revelation 12

[Articles in the Multiple Views series are intended to present various views held by Christians, in an objective and unbiased manner]

Revelation 12:1-4 says the following:

1 A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars;

2 and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth.

3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems.

4 And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.

5 And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.

6 Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.

7 And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war,

8 and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven.

9 And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying,

“Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.

11 And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.

12 For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.”

13 And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child.

14 But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she *was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.

15 And the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood.

16 But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and drank up the river which the dragon poured out of his mouth.

17 So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

Today we will be examining the different ways this particular chapter has been interpreted.

 Timeframe  Description
 1) Flashback to Bethlehem + Flash forward to end times
  • The woman is seen as ethnic Israel and so the birth of the child is a flashback to the incarnation of Jesus.
  • After the Messiah is born, the scene immediately flashes forward to a time after the rapture, halfway through the seven year tribulation.
  • That’s when Satan will renew his assault on the modern nation of Israel. This assault will result in cosmic war between the angels of God and the dragon.
  • Defeated by the archangel Michael, the dragon will try to destroy the Jewish believers in Jesus but the earth itself will rise up to protect them (Revelation 12:13-17).
  • Bottom line: Satan will be thrown down to this earth; this will happen during a future time of tribulation.
 2) Flashback to Bethlehem + Flash forward to AD70
  • The woman represents heavenly Jerusalem.
  • During the Jewish-Roman War, Roman legions swept through the land like a destructive deluge (Daniel 9:26; Revelation 12:15-16), but believers in Jesus left Jerusalem before the worst of Rome’s wrath (Revelation 12:14-17).
  • Bottom line: Satan was thrown down to earth; this happened in AD70
 3) Victory in Jesus from heaven’s point of view
  • This chapter is seen as an apocalyptic recounting of all that Jesus accomplished through his life, death, and resurrection.
  • The woman is the Virgin Mary (Revelation 12:12, 6).
  • Jesus died, and God the Father raised him to life and enthroned him in the heavens (Revelation 12:5).
  • Satan tried many tactics to disrupt the Messiah’s genealogy and destroy the long promised king (Revelation 12:3-6; see Matthew 2:16-18; 4:1-11; Luke 4:29-30), but Jesus triumphed and crushed the serpent (Revelation 12:9; see Genesis 3:15).
  • Bottom line: Satan was thrown down to earth; this happened through the sacrificial death and the third-day triumph of Jesus.

Source: Rose Guide to End-Times Prophecy (2011)

When did John write Revelation

[Articles in the Multiple Views series are intended to present various views held by Christians, in an objective and unbiased manner]

“Who wrote Revelation is relatively certain. Although not everyone agrees, the most ancient evidence points to the Apostle John. When the apostle John wrote Revelation is far less certain. Unlike books today, no one placed copyright dates in copies of biblical texts! To decide the approximate date when this biblical text was written, scholars compare what’s inside the book with what was happening in the world outside the book. In the case of Revelation, that process results in two primary possibilities.” [1]

 During the reign of Emperor Nero  During the reign of Emperor Domitian
  • Ruled the Roman Empire, AD 54-68.
  • After a fire in Rome, a rumor circulated that Nero had started the fire.
  • According to the ancient historian Tacitus, “To get rid of this report, Nero accused and inflicted exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, the ones called Christians.”
  • This persecution seems to have been limited to the regions around Rome, but it likely affected attitudes toward Christians beyond Rome.
  • Ruled the Roman Empire, AD 81-96
  • Domitian reportedly declared himself to be divine during his lifetime.
  • According to the ancient historian Suetonius, “Domitian issued an encyclical in the name of his governors that declared ‘Our Master and our God bids that this be done.’”
Evidence 1: An ancient inscription

  • A fifth century version of Revelation in the Syriac language refers to the book as “the Revelation given by God to John the Gospel-writer, on the island of Patmos where he was banished by Emperor Nero.” It is possible that this ascription preserves an earlier tradition.
Evidence 1: The testimony of Irenaeus

  • The second-century writer Irenaeus of Lyons – a student of Polycarp, who knew the apostle John – reported that John wrote Revelation while in exile during Domitian’s reign.
Evidence 2: Persecution of Christians

  • It seems that Christians may have been in the early stages of a time of persecution when John wrote Revelation (1:9; 2:2-3; 2:9-10; 2:13; 3:8-10).
  • Nero instigated the first imperial persecution of Christians in AD 64; this persecution lasted until Nero’s death in 68.
Evidence 2: Worship of the Roman emperor

  • Hints can be found throughout Revelation that Christians may have been coerced to worship the emperor (13:4; 13:14-17; 14:9; 15:2; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4).
  • Nero was never worshipped as divine in his lifetime.
  • Worship of the emperor does seem to have occurred during Domitian’s reign, in the AD 80s and 90s.
  • Coins from Domitian’s reign refer to Domitian as “father of the gods.” An idol of Domitian may have been constructed in the city of Ephesus.
Evidence 3: The temple in Jerusalem

  • If Revelation had been written in the AD 90s, it seems that John might have mentioned the fall of the Jewish temple that occurred in AD 70.
  • The wording of Revelation 11:1-2 suggests to some scholars that the temple of Jerusalem was still standing when John wrote this book.
Evidence 3: The church of Laodicea

  • The description of Laodicea’s self-sufficiency may reflect a time in the AD 80s when the Laodiceans rebuilt their city with no outside assistance after an earthquake (Revelation 3:17).

 

Source: Rose Guide to End-Times Prophecy (2011)

[1] Rose Guide to End-Times Prophecy (2011), p.225

Four Ways Revelation is Viewed

[Articles in the Multiple Views series are intended to present various views held by Christians, in an objective and unbiased manner]

“The Book of Revelation takes its name from the Greek word found in 1:1, apokalypsis (637), an unveiling, uncovering, or disclosure … Written largely in what has been termed apocalyptic genre, not surprisingly Revelation has yielded the greatest number of divergent interpretations of any NT book.” [1] Today, this article will present an overview of four of the most predominant views which have cropped up.

 Perspectives How Revelation is Viewed
A) Futurist
  •  Revelation is a prophecy primarily about the future end of the world and years leading immediately to the end
  • All or nearly all of Revelation is yet to occur
  • Held to by dispensational premillennialists and some historic premillennialists
B) Historicist
  •  Revelation is a prophecy about church history from the time of John to the end of the world
  • The events in Revelation are viewed as symbolic descriptions of historical events throughout church history

Note: Some futurists understand the Seven Churches (Revelation 1-3) in a historic manner, treating each church as descriptive of a particular era of church history

C) Idealist
  • Revelation is a non-historical and non-prophetic drama about spiritual realities
  • Revelation is viewed as “… hyper-allegories or esoteric parables designed to simply illustrate the ongoing conflict between God and Satan, good and evil, the Church and the world.” [1]
  • Seemed to have originated among ancient Alexandrian theologians, who frequently spiritualised and allegorised biblical text
D) Preterist 
  • Revelation is a prophecy which was fulfilled primarily in the first century AD
  • This view “stresses the immediacy of the book’s message.”
  • Strand #1: Partial Preterism – views most of Revelation as fulfilled in the first century although the final chapters of Revelation describe future events to occur at the end of time
  • Strand #2: Full Preterism – views the return of Jesus described in Revelation 19 as spiritual and occurred in AD 70 when the temple of Jerusalem was destroyed.
  • Typically held to by amillennialists or postmillennialists

Note: Christians throughout church history have understood full preterism to be a heresy

 

Source: Rose Guide to End-Times Prophecy (2011)

[1] Hebrew Greek Key Word Study Bible NIV (1996), p.1447

Four Perspectives on Phrases In Daniel 9:26-27

[Articles in the Multiple Views series are intended to present various views held by Christians, in an objective and unbiased manner]

All the four perspectives that we will examine later, agree that the Anointed One in Daniel 9:25-26 is Jesus. “He was “cut off but not for himself,” indicating that he was a sacrifice for the sins of his people.” [1] Now, let us look at Daniel 9:26-27 (New International Version) before seeing how certain phrases in those verses have been interpreted.

26 After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.

27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him. [2] 

 Perspectives Who is the “ruler who is to come”? (Daniel 9:26)
A)  Jesus was the ruler or prince who was :yet to come” when Daniel wrote these words. By rejecting Jesus, the Jewish people – “the people of the ruler who is yet to come” – brought about the destruction of their temple in AD 70.
B)  The Roman general Titus was the ruler who was “yet to come”
C)  The ruler “yet to come” is a future Antichrist who will appear at the end of time to deceive and to destroy
D)  The ruler “yet to come” is a future Antichrist who will appear in the end ties to deceive the Jewish people

 

 Perspectives  How will “sacrifice and offering” come to an end? (Daniel 9:27)
A)  Halfway through the seventieth seven (or perhaps at the end of the seventieth seven), Jesus was crucified. Jesus’ perfect life and atoning death marked the end of any need for sacrifices and offerings. His death also brought about a new covenant “with many.”
B)  The Roman army, under the command of Titus, ended sacrifices and offerings through the destruction of the temple in AD 70
C)  After the first half of the seventieth seven, Jesus was crucified. Jesus’ perfect life and atoning death marked the end of any need for sacrifices and offerings. The second half of the seventieth seven will occur when the Antichrist appear near the end of time
D)  The entire seventieth seven is the time of the future “great tribulation.” A “great parenthesis” of time stands between the sixty-ninth and seventieth sevens. Before of during the first part of the seventieth “week,” a new temple will be built. The Antichrist will make a covenant with the nation of Israel guaranteeing safety and security. In the middle of the final “week,” the Antichrist will break his pact and end sacrifices and offerings.

 

 Perspectives  What is the “abomination that causes desolation”? (Daniel 9:27)
A)  The Jewish religious leaders rejected Jesus, the true temple of God (see John 2:19-21). In the years following the seventieth seven, certain Jewish leaders rebelled against the Romans, fought among themselves and turned their own people against one another. All of these deeds, beginning with the abomination of rejecting Jesus, resulted in the desolating destruction of the Jewish temple.
B)  Titus and his soldiers defiled the Jewish temple, looted the treasury, and placed the Roman eagle in front of the temple.
C)  The Antichrist will persecute God’s people and deal falsely with them.
D)  The Antichrist will present himself in the temple as divine.

Source: Rose Guide to End-Times Prophecy (2011)

[1] Rose Guide to End-Times Prophecy (2011), p.170

[2] https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Daniel+9%3A26-27&version=NIV

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Four Views of the Kingdom of God

[Articles in the Multiple Views series are intended to present various views held by Christians, in an objective and unbiased manner]

“When Jesus arrived on the scene, he immediately began proclaiming the message of a new kingdom: “The time has come … The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15) …

They [the religious leaders] feared that, if Jesus continued to proclaim this royal domain, the Romans would destroy their temple and any hope for a kingdom (John 11:47-48).

But this kingdom was different. He [Jesus] never provided a detailed verbal definition of his kingdom. Instead, he told stories – and his parables rarely included the typical trappings of kingship. There were no horses or chariots or battles in these stories. Instead, Jesus told about a woman who was kneading some dough, a farmer whose neighbor mixed weeds with his wheat, and a man who planted some mustard seeds (Matthew 24:24-33).” [1]

We will now consider four of the popularly advocated and held to views of the kingdom of God

  1. Amillennialism
  2. Postmillennialism
  3. Historical Premillennialism
  4. Dispensational Premillennialism

 

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[1] Rose Guide to End-Times Prophecy (2011), p.113

Sources:

  • Rose Guide to End-Times Prophecy (2011)

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How God Will Fulfill His Promises to Abraham and Israel

[Articles in the Multiple Views series are intended to present various views held by Christians, in an objective and unbiased manner]

What were God’s promises to Abraham?

  1. To make a great nation from Abraham’s descendants (Genesis 12:1-3)
  2. To give to Abraham’s descendants all the land of Canaan (Genesis 15:18-21)
  3. To make Abraham a father of many nations (Genesis 17:2-9)
 Perspective
A) Dispensational i) Quick Summary: God has two plans with two people, the church and Israel. God will fulfill His promises to Abraham and Israel by giving to ethnic Jews the land that He promised to Abraham

“Throughout the ages God is pursuing two distinct purposes: one related to the earth with earthly people and earthly objectives involved, which is Judaism; while the other is related to heaven with heavenly people and heavenly objectives involved, which is Christianity.” [1]

ii) Specifics

  1. Fulfillment in the future through the nation of Israel: At some point in the future, physical descendants of the ancient Israelite people will possess the land God promised to Abraham

iii) Different ways someone can be a child of Abraham [2]

  1. Through physical descent: The Jewish people are children of Abraham through natural lineage from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
  2. Through spiritual adoption: Believers in Jesus Christ are children to Abraham through a spiritual lineage. God’s purpose in the spiritual lineage is separate from His purpose and work with the nation of Israel.

The offer of grace to Gentiles was “an unexpected and unpredicted” spiritual parenthesis within God’s work with the physical descendants of Abraham. [3]

B) Covenantal   i) Quick Summary: God has one plan with one people, with one covenant of grace which extends from the fall of humanity to the end of time. God’s work with Israel was preparatory for His work with the church

ii) Differing opinions amongst covenantal theologians on the specifics:

  1. Fulfillment during King Soloman’s reign: According to 1 Kings 4:21, Solomon ruled all the kingdoms from the Euphrates River to the border of Egypt. This fulfilled God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 15:18
  2. A promise with a condition: God promised that the descendants of Abraham would receive the land regardless of their deeds (Deuteronomy 9:5) but would retain the land only if they remained faithful to their God (Joshua 23:15-16). When the Israelites turned to other gods, they lost this aspect of God’s blessing (Deuteronomy 4:26)
  3. Fulfillment through the church:  The church has superseded Israel as God’s people. God is fulfilling His promises to the Jewish people through the church. Verse referred to include Galatians 6:16, James 1:1, Matthew 21:43)

Because the Jewish people had not               turned to Jesus, “God changed his                 covenant – that is, he bestowed the               inheritance of eternal life on foreign           nations – and collected to himself a               more faithful people.” [4]

C) New Covenantal  i) Quick Summary: God has one purpose that He has worked out through multiple covenants. God’s work with Abraham and Israel was a temporary picture of what God has already purposed to do in Jesus. God’s promises to Abraham find their fulfillment in Jesus

“The [Old Testament] law was a parable, a sketch. The gospel became the explanation of the law and its fulfillment.” [5]

ii) Specifics

  1. Old covenant as a temporary picture of the new covenant: The covenant with Abraham and Israel was intended to be fulfilled in Jesus and then to pass away (Hebrews 3:5, 8:5-13, 9:8-10, 10:9). The present and future reign of Jesus over all the earth fulfills God’s promise to Abraham.
  2. Fulfillment in Jesus Christ: God’s promise was made primarily to one offspring of Abraham, Jesus the Messiah (Genesis 12:7; Galatians 3:16). The present and future reign of Jesus over all the earth fulfills God’s promise to Abraham.

[1] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Dispensationalism (1951), p.107

[2] John F. Walvoord, The Millennial Kingdom (2010), p.145

[3] John F. Walvoord, The Rapture Question (2010)

[4] Lactanius, Divinarum Institutionum, 4:11

[5] Melito of Sardis, Peri Pascha, pp. 39-45

Source: Rose Guide to End-Times Prophecy (2011), pp.54, 57-63

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Views on Divine Providence

[Articles in the Multiple Views series are intended to present various views held by Christians, in an objective and unbiased manner]

This article is a summary of the four views on divine providence which are expressed in Zondervan’s Four Views on Divine Providence (2011). The four views presented & interacted with are as follows:

  1. God Causes All Things
  2. God Directs All Things
  3. God Controls By Liberating
  4. God Limits His Control
Perspective  Proponent & Overview
 A) God Causes All Things  i) Proponent

Paul Kjoss Helseth

ii) Overview

Dennis W. Jowers: “… God exercises comprehensive control over even the minutest aspects of his creatures’ activities” [1]

The Westminster Confession of Faith: “God, the great Creator of all things, doth uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by his most wise and holy providence, according to his infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of his own will, to the praise of the glory of his wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy” [2]

B.B. Warfield: “There is nothing that is, and nothing that comes to pass, that [God] has not first decreed and then brought to pass by His creation or providence” [3]

Paul Kjoss Helseth: “… particular evils happen because he [God] ordained that they would, and he did so for reasons that, while ultimately inscrutable, nevertheless serve to conform believers more and more to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:28-30) and, in the process, to cultivate in them the Christian virtues of perseverance, proven character, and hope (Rom. 5:1-5)” [4]

B) God Directs All Things  i) Proponent

William Lane Craig

ii) Overview

Dennis W. Jowers: “… God employs “middle knowledge”, his knowledge of what human beings would decide to do under any conceivable set of circumstances, to control creaturely affairs without depriving human beings of libertarian freedom.” [1], or

William Lane Craig: “… by employing his hypothetical knowledge, God can plan a world down to the last detail and yet do so without annihilating creaturely freedom, since God already factored into the equation what people would do freely under various circumstances.” [5]

William Lane Craig: “We may formulate this argument as follows:

  1. If there are counterfactuals of creaturely freedom, then God knows these truths
  2. There are true counterfactuals of creaturely freedom
  3. If God know true counterfactuals of creaturely freedom, God knows them either logically prior to the divine creative decree or only logically posterior to the divine creative decree
  4. Counterfactuals of creaturely freedom cannot be known only logically posterior to the divine creative decree

From premises 1 and 2, it follows logically that

  1. Therefore, God knows true counterfactuals of creaturely freedom

From premises 3 and 5, it follows that

  1. Therefore, God knows true counterfactuals of creaturely divine freedom either logically prior to the divine creative decree or only logically posterior to the divine creative decree

And from premises 4 and 6, it follows that

  1. Therefore, God knows true counterfactuals of creaturely freedom logically prior to the divine creative decree” [6]

William Lane Craig: “… the Molinists, by placing God’s hypothetical knowledge of creaturely freedom by exempting counterfactual truths about creaturely choices from God’s decree. In the same way the necessary truths like 2 + 2 = 4 are prior to and therefore independent of God’s decree, so counterfactual truths about how creatures would freely choose under various circumstances are prior to and independent of God’s decree.” [5]

William Lane Craig: “He [God] is thus like a Grand Master who is playing an opponent whom he knows so well that he knows every move his opponent would make in response to his own moves. Such a chess player could not actualize just any possible match, given his opponent’s freedom, but he could actualize any feasible match.” [7]

William Lane Craig: “Via his middle knowledge, then, God can have complete knowledge of both conditional future contingents and absolute future contingents. Such knowledge gives him sweeping sovereignty over the affairs of men. Yet such an account of God’s knowledge is wholly compatible with human freedom, since the circumstances envisioned in counterfactuals of creaturely freedom are nondetermining and, hence, freedom-preserving.” [8]

C) God Controls By Liberating  i) Proponent

Ron Highfield

ii) Overview

a) By Ron Highfield

“Through the Word and the Spirit, God gives real and lasting efficacy to human action by empowering and directing all things, including human freedom, to their God-appointed end … God frees human freedom from the futility of its blind groping and enables it to achieve its end.” [9]

“In the explicit teaching of the New Testament, the fullness of freedom is not the beginning but the goal, of human life. It is not the power to choose between this and that or between good and evil; it is the power for, and the actual state of, loving God perfectly and willing his will invariably.” [10]

God’s providential and saving actions – even when they overrule and defeat our misguided and sinful intentions – are designed to liberate us from sin and death. Even if we cannot explain how God works in providence to accomplish his will perfectly, we can now see that the objection that such a view of providence contradicts human freedom and responsibility – however enticing to philosophical intuition – possesses no biblical warrant.” [10]

“… God does not do evil when he works in and through and after stupid, ignorant, and evil human acts. God overcomes the stupidity, ignorance, and evil to accomplish his good will perfectly.” [11]

 D) God Limits His Control  i) Proponent

Gregory Boyd

ii) Overview

a) By Gregory Boyd

“While there is never a question whether these foes [the forces of evil] will be ultimately vanquished by the work of Christ, it is also perfectly clear in the Gospels, as throughout the entire Bible, that these cosmic foes genuinely resist the reign of God and exercise a formidable destructive influence in the world today.” [12]

“… Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane … asked if it was possible for the Father to alter the divine plan to accomplish the mission in some way that avoided the hellish spiritual and physical agony of the cross (Matt. 26:39). In this particular instance, of course, it was not possible. Yet this prayer – by the only one who truly knows the Father (Matt. 11:27) – reveals that God is in principle open to modifying his plans in response to human input, as we find him doing throughout the biblical narrative (e.g., Ex. 32:12-14)” [13]

“God’s decision to create a cosmos that was capable of love and that was, therefore, populated with free agents was also a decision to create and govern a world he could not unilaterally control.” [14]

“To the extent that God gives an agent free will, he cannot meticulously control what that agent does. Yet the “cannot” in this statement is not a matter of insufficient power, for God remains all-powerful. It rather is simply a matter of definition. Just as God cannot create a round triangle or a married bachelor, so too he cannot meticulously control free agents.” [15]

“God’s knowledge of what will come to pass in the future is incomprehensibly superior to ours, simply because he perfectly knows all past and present variables that effect what comes to pass, including his own will. Yet, amid all the things we do not have say-so over, the open view holds that free agents have (or at least had) some degree of say-so, however slight it may be in the total scheme of things.” [16]

“In contrast to the classical view that assumed the future could be exhaustively described by propositions asserting what will or will not come to pass, the open view holds that, insofar as agents face ontological possibilities, the future must be described by propositions asserting what might and might not come to pass.” [17]

“Since an omniscient God must know the truth-value of all propositions, in other words, he must know the truth value of “might” propositions as well as “will” propositions.” [17]

“… what it is about divine omniscience that renders it metaphysically impossible for God ever to create a world in which the future was causally open to alternate possibilities and therefore known by God as such?” [18]

“While Scripture certainly depicts aspects of the future as settled either in God’s mind (foreknowledge) or by God’s will (predestination), no Scripture forces the conclusion that the future is exhaustively settled, let alone necessarily settled from all eternity.” [19]

“The very fact that Jesus inquired [in Matt. 26:39, 42] about this possibility presumes that it is in principle possible for God to change his mind in response to prayer. Yet it is hard to see how God could ever modify his plans in the flow of history if every one of his plans had been unalterably settled from all eternity.” [20]

“Similarly, if the future is eternally settled in God’s mind and/or by God’s will, it is challenging to see how God could genuinely regret some of his decisions in light of how events played themselves out (Gen. 6:6-7; 1 Sam 15:11, 35)” [21]

“… if the future is eternally settled, it is difficult to see how God could express surprise over how humans behave, and even confess several times that he expected people to act differently (e.g., Jer. 3:7, 19; Isa. 5:1-5).” [21]

“Along the same lines, it is quite hard to understand why Scripture on numerous occasions would depict God as testing people to see how they would choose if their choices were settled in eternity before their testing (e.g., Deut. 8:2; 13:1-3)” [21]

“So too, it is not clear how Scripture could encourage us to speed up the time of the Lord’s return by how we live if the exact time of his return was eternally set in stone (2 Peter 3:11-12).” [21]

“God, the author of the adventure of creation, as it were, predetermines the overall structure of the adventure as well as all the possible story lines and all the possible endings within this adventure. Moreover, if God predestines certain events to take place if certain story lines are chosen and other events to take place regardless of what story lines are chosen. Yet within this predetermined structure, free agents  are empowered with a certain amount of say-so as to which of the many possible story lines is actualised.” [22]

“… an infinitely intelligent God is as prepared for every one of any number of possible future events as he would be for a single future event that was certain to take place.” [23]

“While not everything happens for a divine purpose, in the open view, everything happens with a divine purpose, for God from eternity has been preparing a response to each and every possible event in case it takes place. It is evident, then, that the God of open theism knows the future just as effectively as the God of classical theism, who faces an eternally settled future.” [24]

Continue reading “Views on Divine Providence”