This is the final installment of my review of this book
As he moves through the Book of Acts the author addresses the main kingdom passages only. An author must be selective with his material, so the relatively brief look at Acts is no mark against the book. In fact, due to his ability to sum things up quickly and accurately Vlach can pinpoint the salient passages and continue into the Pauline corpus.
That said, he manages to dwell on the really crucial texts. He says, for instance, “Acts 3:19-26 is a strategic passage for the kingdom program.” (421). And he has spent 7 pages getting to that conclusion. He not only exegetes Acts 3:19-21, he demonstrates Peter’s compliance with expectations raised by the Old Testament. He then mentions how Acts 3:25 cites Genesis 12:3 and 22:18 to prove that Israel – representatives of which the Apostle is speaking to – is still the same national entity as was envisaged in the Abrahamic covenant (420-421).
Any worthwhile account of the kingdom in the New Testament has to tackle James’s use of Amos 9 in Acts 15:16-18. Does James reinterpret the prophet the way amillennialists insist he does? Vlach says there is a partial fulfillment of Amos because now Christ has come Gentiles are invited to God through Him. “The point of Amos 9:11-12 is this – a restored kingdom of Israel under the Messiah results in blessings to Gentiles.” (424 italics original). However, Amos 9:13-15, which refers to the restoration of Israel in the future, are not quoted by James (425). Partial fulfillments of OT prophecies ought to be expected because of the space between the two comings – something which was far from clear in the OT.
Entering upon Paul’s epistles, the first thing Vlach does is to set out the fourteen references to the kingdom. In dealing with each one the constant theme is the futurity of the kingdom (433). A crucial passage is 1 Corinthians 15:20-28, and Vlach pays ample attention to it (436-444). Here the author’s exegetical and analytical skills are fully utilized to prove, I think conclusively, that Paul assumes an intermediate kingdom reign of Christ on earth before He delivers up the kingdom to the Father. I shall not go into detail here, but his handling of the epeita… eita formula (with reference to 15:5-8), the use of Psalms 110 and 8, and the fact that Christ must reign “until” show the necessity of the premillennial view.
When coming to the great eschatological section in Romans 9 through 11, one could have wished that more space had been allotted to the Apostle’s argument. Three pages is not enough, and it amounts to the most disappointing part of an otherwise excellent book. This was surprising to come across, and perhaps a second edition could improve on the deficiency? What is said is right enough, but since the Olive Tree metaphor especially is subjected to inattention and misreading I really hoped for a thorough analysis of the passage.
The chapter which follows (ch. 30) deals with “The Kingdom in Hebrews”. The Book of Hebrews is turned this way and that depending on the propensities of interpreters. But just read “on its own” so to speak, it is an exceedingly prophetic type of literature.
In his handling of the epistle Vlach investigates two questions: the kingdom passages and the use of Psalm 110:1, 4. He concludes that,
Christians currently are looking for the world to come (2:5) and the city to come (13:14). Jesus is currently exercising His priestly role from the right hand of God but is waiting for the day when He will reign as messianic King, putting His enemies under His feet (Heb 10:12-13). The kingdom has not arrived yet but it will come in connection with divine judgments to come (12:26, 28). But like Abraham, Christians are looking for the coming heavenly Jerusalem, a literal city that will exist on the earth. (467)
Whether one agrees entirely with the author’s understanding of “the heavenly Jerusalem” the chapter is well argued.