This is a response to comments left for me in the combox at this post about Sam Storms’s views on eschatology. I appreciate the brother bringing them to my attention. I am responding mainly to this:
Thanks for the post. I am not sure the last section really represents Sam’s view. He would say that Paul and Peter leave no room for a milennium since Paul has the last enemy death defeated at the parousia in 1Cor 15:24ff, 50 therefore death will not exist after Jesus returns and Peter has Jesus returning and then begins the renovation of heaven and earth by fire without a milennium. Since the thrones in Revelation are always in heaven and when they are setup for those who reign on them it could be that their reign is in heaven. He does admit difficulty with anastasis so he defaults to the fact that Paul and Peter are clearer than Revelation therefore he is inclined to be amillennial. This is Storms’ view summarized.
Comment by Rick Tatina | July 7, 2013 |
Just in case, the passage concerning Peter was from 2 Peter 3:9-12.
Here’s a brief response.
Let me address these texts 1 Cor. 15:20-28 first:
“But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. 21 For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, 24 then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be abolished is death. 27 For HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. 28 When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.”
Okay, let’s examine this, beginning in v.23:
This passage is dealing with physical resurrection (anastasis). Christ is raised first, in expectation of more to come. V.24 then speaks of “the end, when Christ hands over the kingdom to the Father.” Is that it? No. V.25 says “He must reign until He has put all enemies under his feet.” So the question is, “Is Christ reigning now?” “Yes” says Storms. Does the Bible say He is? No! Not unless He reigns over the “principalities and powers” of Eph. 6:10ff. Not unless He is reigning over the countless tragedies and acts of wickedness which continue day in day out since He rose again. If so, He would be the worse ruler imaginable. The buck would stop at Him.
In Matt. 19:28 Jesus looks forward to sitting “on the throne of his glory” at “the regeneration” (palingenesia). This coincides with the “times of refreshing” and “times of restoration” of Acts 3:19 & 21, which Acts 3:20 tells us occur when Jesus returns. In Lk. 19:12-15 Jesus makes it clear that He (the nobleman) would go away and only reign once He returned. In Rev. 3:21 we’re told that Jesus sat down on His Father’s throne. 1 Cor. 15:20ff. could support amillennialism, but only if we are prepared to spiritualize a whole bunch of other verses.
Here I should like to quote from my “Parameters of Meaning” series (which I have neglected):
“Parameters of Meaning – Rule 9: If a literal interpretation leads you into wholesale allegorizing, or causes head-on conflicts with other clear texts, which then have to be creatively reinterpreted, it is an illegitimate use of “literal”. There will always be another literal meaning available which preserves the plain-sense of the rest of the passage in its context.”
Well, is Christ subduing all things now? Look around. Of course not. Does the Bible say He is? No. Romans 8:19-23 places this at the time of our resurrection (“the redemption of our body”). When will that happen? 1 John 3:2 & Phil 3:20-21 answer, at the Second Coming. So at Christ’s second advent this world will be “regenerated” or “delivered” or “refreshed” or “subdued” and not before. Christ shall reign (Lk. 1:31-33; cf. Rev. 20:4 & 6) just as the Prophets said He would. He will rule with a rod of iron after the second coming as Rev. 19:15 makes quite clear (see also Rev. 2:27; 12:3 which make it future). Psalm 2:6-9 refer to this subduing when Christ reigns. See also this: https://drreluctant.wordpress.com/2013/01/17/christ-at-the-center-pt-6a/
I really don’t know what Storms is thinking with 1 Cor. 15:50. But it seems He is just equating the kingdom of God with heaven. And, as I said above, this thinking of New Heavens and Earth after the coming of Christ is a big problem for amillennialism, because it discards THIS earth as useless after the Second Advent. No dominion for the second Adam on this earth in successful completion of Adam’s failed dominion! It is easy to fit the literal Millennium in 1 Cor. 15 without having to revise our reading of all the plain verses which speak of an actual reign of Christ on this earth after the second advent.
Storms’ stuff about the “thrones” which were kindly quoted for me in the combox is an utterly question-begging assertion. Simply doing a word study on “throne” in the NT does not lead to solid conclusions. Text in context! I would like to say more but will have to stop there.
Now for the 2 Peter passage:
2 Peter 3:9-12 is a better passage for Storms because it certainly could be construed as teaching the destruction of this planet after Christ comes. But keep in mind what I said above about choosing a literal meaning which forces you to spiritualize a host of other passages!
All I would say here is that verse 6 is speaking of destruction by the global flood, which destroyed “the world that once was.” If the destruction of the earth was uppermost in Peter’s mind here then it is quite possible that he is looking past “the times of restoration” which he himself spoke of to the end of the Millennial reign, when Satan is finally released (though Storms has him at large on a meaninglessly long chain) and he is destroyed (Christ crushes his head – Gen. 3:15b).
Please notice here that unless one adopts this position you have Peter contradicting himself. In Acts 3:19-21 Peter tells the “men of Israel” that “the times of refreshing/restoration” will come after God sends Christ Jesus. Thus, this earth is to be (to use Paul’s language) “delivered from the bondage of corruption” when Jesus returns. But Storms has Peter tell us that this earth will be dissolved in fervent heat right after the second coming! Something which Revelation puts a thousand years after the coming. Which is it Peter?
You see, in some amillennialists’ fervor for no future earthly reign they make the Bible ridiculous. They make it make promises it then changes and then declares fulfilled (which conman can’t do that?). They make this world, which is Christ’s, something which in their worldview has no intrinsic value other than as a vehicle for the ingathering of the elect. They interpret one or two verses in order that they can spiritualize a thousand. And they force the Bible into talking nonsense (those beheaded who come back to life depict people being born-again), or else contradicting itself (When Jesus returns this world will be beautified and destroyed by fire at the same time: Satan is bound and imprisoned but goes about as a roaring lion!).
As I have said before, the basic problem of amillennialism is disbelief. These verses can be interpreted at face value without resorting to typology, spiritualization, or pitting one passage against another. It means we must humbly tell our unaided reason to keep quiet while God is speaking, and then study to show ourselves approved unto the God who spoke the words!