What About the Time Texts? Part 3

By Samuel M. Frost, Th.M.

The first two parts of this series are found here and here.  To this day they have not been thoroughly rebutted.  It is often assumed by many that John’s Revelation is speaking of things that would happen, all of them, in 70 AD.   They assume this on the basis that John noted “the time is at hand” (1.3; 22.10).  I used to assume the same thing.  In fact, I took it for granted that this is what was meant by the phrase.  The “time” here was assumed to be the time of the coming of Jesus in the near future to John.

Upon, however, an actual investigation – one that is not trying to prove 70 AD – this idea simply falls apart.  First off, let us look at the phrase itself in the Greek text: yar ho kairos enggus.  That is, “for the time near”, literally.  There is no verb.  The verb is supplied by translators.  Second, this is a Purpose Clause, “for” the time is near.  The RSV has “Blessed is he who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written therein; for the time is near.”  The reason for keeping, reading and hearing is “because” the time is near.  No one would disagree with that.

First, when on consults the “scholars” one will find on this certain phrase a wide variety of interpretations.  I stopped quoting scholars.  I have not stopped reading them (by the tank loads – and since my son lives with me while completing his Bachelor’s, I have access to all kinds of books on campus, Go Ball State Cardinals!).  One of the common things in any Introduction to Revelation is that the author of the book is identified with the same author of John’s Gospel (and letters).  I accept this on the basis of stylistics – that is, there are many, many phrasings in Revelation that are only found in both the Gospel and Revelation.  Scholars have argued, then, that the author is the same (and for various other reasons).  I accept this.

Second, the phrase “ho kairos enggus” is simply two nouns without a verb,  This is unusual.  For, we have this very phrase (in meaning) often repeated in both the OT and NT.  In Mark 1.15 for example, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”  Here the verb “fulfilled” is in the Perfect Tense (has come, and is now).  The word “near” is also a verb form of enggus, and in the Perfect Tense as well.  In Luke 21.8 we find an interesting saying, “He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them.”  Now, the phrasing here, “the time is come” is ho kairos enggiken where “near” is a verb in the Perfect Tense.  Yet, this is precisely what we find in the NT proclamation: the time has come.  Apparently, then, there would be a false message of announcing “the time is near” and a true message of announcing the “time is near.”  Jesus announced that the time has come.  Paul equally announced that “now is the Day of salvation”.  The Latter Times had indeed come upon them as announced (Acts 2).  Nowhere in the NT is it stated that the time is coming somewhere out in the future.  The NT message is clear from the very first arrival of Jesus on the scene: the time has been fulfilled.  The Kingdom of God has come.  Therefore, anyone expressing the idea that this time had not yet come, but would be saying later on in the future, “the time has come” would mean that Jesus was wrong.  Jesus said at the time he began to minister that the time had come.  If someone else was saying a few decades later “the time has come” they were off.  Therefore, we must conclude that the time that had come was the same time mentioned by Jesus when he began his ministry.  And, not only that, but had come in terms of his Incarnation.  This was the coming of the Righteous One.

Now, what is interesting about John and his phrase, “the time near” is that he does not use the verb enggizo, but prefers (always) to use the noun, enggus.  That is, he uses a Predicate instead of a verb.  “And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem” (John 2.13).  Here, “at hand” is expressed with a Predicate and Noun, enngus (the same is found in John 3.23; 6.4; 6.19; 7.2; 11.18; 11.55; 19.20; 19.42).  The Predicate is in the Imperfect Tense.  However, in another Gospel, repeating the same phrase, “And the feast of the unleavened food was coming nigh, that is called Passover” (Luke 22.1).  Here, Luke uses “enggizen” (had draw near) with the Perfect Tense.  John used a Predicate, Luke used the verb.  Both express the same idea in Greek.  “He said, “Go into the city to a certain one, and say to him, `The Teacher says, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at your house with my disciples'” (Matthew 26.18).  Here Matthew uses the noun (enggus) with the Predicate in the Present Indicative.  This is clear demonstration of the phrase “the time is at hand” being referenced to something that would happen in two days time.  That is the normal understanding of the term “near” when used in contexts of time.  “Near” does not ever mean something 20, 30 or 40 years from now in any context!

Thus, when Jesus referred to his time being at hand to celebrate the Passover, it was within a couple of days upon his arrival to Jerusalem, using a Present Tense.  When, however, Jesus was expressing the arrival of The Time of his Coming and the Promised Salvation, it is expressed using a Perfect Tense: the time has now come and is now here. The Perfect tense captures both the Present and the Past (in John’s case, using the Imperfect past Tense in predicate form).

In fact, we find the NT authors using the Perfect Tense consistently and constantly.  The time has come upon us.  The Day has come upon us.  The ends of the ages have come upon us.  The arrival of Jesus was the arrival of the Day and the Time: “now is the Day of Salvation”.

Therefore, in keeping with the consistency of this analysis, when John announced in Revelation 1.3 that the “time is near” he is not saying this detached from the time when Jesus first announced it upon the dawn of his ministry.  That would make John one of the false prophets saying, “the time has come!  Here he is!”  Jesus flatly said to avoid such a one.  Rather, in Jesus Christ, John was announcing the same thing: the time has come with the ministry, suffering, death, resurrection and ascension of the son of man to the throne of David in heaven.  This is not a future time.  This is a now time.

And, we find this confirmed in our analysis in that John’s first vision in the Revelation is of the Exalted Christ, “who was, is, and now comes” (Present Active Indicative, not Future).  John sees “the son of man” (Revelation 1.13), who is reflecting the image of the Ancient of Days (vv.13-ff), Who is the One the son of man is “before” – where he is in heaven, before the throne of the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7.9-14).  John is not waiting for the time.  The time has come.  Jesus is Lord.  “From him who is and who was and who comes; and from the seven Spirits that are before his throneand from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 1.8-ff).

This is why the Revelation is given to us: for the time is come, the Reign of Messiah as prophesied and promised in the Prophets has come.  Salvation is in the right hand of God, and he dispenses it to each according to his deeds.  There is so much more here that can be said, and I suggest the other articles on this site on the Body of Christ and his Parousia.

Nero Revived? Another Look

By Samuel M. Frost, Th. M.

It is not hard to find a commentary on Revelation, liberal or conservative, that mentions the so called Nero Redivivus myth.  This idea, briefly, is that Nero Caesar would be raised from the dead, or would come alive again in the future.  Following a paper by Sigve Tonstad of Loma Linda University, this idea and how it has played in the history of interpreting John’s Revelation  is, however, coming under attack (see Tonstad, “Appraising the Myth of Nero Redivivus in the Interpretation of Revelation” – Andrews University Seminary Studies, Vol. 46, No. 2, pp. 175-199).  Citing Gerhard Maier’s, Die Johannesoffenbarung und die Kirche, WUNT 25 (Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr,1981), Tonstad offers several other sources for rejecting this view including, Paul S. Minear, I Saw Heaven Opened (1969).  In my own readings, Alan James Beagley’s The Sitz-im-Leben of the Apocalypse with Particular Reference to the Role of the Churches Enemies (Walter De Gruyter, Berlin, 1987) equally takes aim.  Several others could be quoted (Robert Mounce, G.K. Beale, J.P.M. Sweet, and others).  Mounce’s view is most attractive at this point and although he does not elucidate on the matter in terms of the Greek text, it is brought out, as I will show, that there is no resurrection of the beast or its head mentioned.

The texts in question all come from Revelation 13, and there we find, “And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads.”  Now, “beast” in Greek is Neuter (that is, its grammatical designation is Neuter in form).  “Head” is Feminine in form.  “And the dragon gave him his power, and his throne, and great authority” – where “dragon” is Masculine in form.  It is the Beast that has ten horns and seven heads.

Now, in Greek the “forms” of a noun must agree with its pronouns.  That is, if “beast” is Neuter, then any pronoun standing for it (or modifying it) would also be Neuter in form.  This is an iron-clad, standard Greek grammatical fact.  “One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast.”  “One” and “heads” are both Feminine (“one” is an adjective of “head” and thus they agree).  But, “its” is Neuter.  It is in agreement with the “beast”.  One of the Beasts heads was as slain (having been slain).  The Beast is not slain, only one of its heads is.  “Its” mortal wound was healed.  Again, the Beast is healed, not the head.  The Beast has seven heads (not including its own head), and when one is slain, another one takes its place.  It is the Beast itself that remains alive.  The Beast itself does not die.  Only one of its many heads does, and this head is not said to recover.  It is the Beast itself that recovers, unphased by the slain head.

“And he maketh the earth and them dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose death-stroke was healed.”  Here we are told again that the Beast is worshipped, who (Neuter) had been healed – not the head.  There is no resurrection of the Beast, and there certainly is no idea here of one of its heads being revised to live again.  “That they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.”  The Beast (Neuter) receives a stroke and one its heads dies as a result, but the Beast itself remains alive.  The word here denotes the contrast of the fact that the Beast itself did not die – “it lives” – and the verb here simply means that, not “lives (again)”, but simply “and it lives.”  The subject of the verb is the Neuter (Beast) not the Feminine (“head”)!  It is the Beast itself that remains alive in spite of the fact that one of its heads was slain.  That’s all that is being said here.

Mounce, then, is entirely correct on this point.  From a purely grammatical analysis, the Beast is not killed.  One of its heads is killed.  But, since it has seven heads, another one crops up and takes its place.  The Beast, therefore, remains alive and recovers from the death of its heads.  Indeed, we find the same idea in Revelation 17.10 that the “seven heads are seven kings. Five are fallen, one is, and the other is not yet come: and when he is come, he must remain a short time.”  Well, if five have “fallen” (they are dead), and one “is” (alive), yet in spite of the fact that five have passed on, the Beast Itself remains alive.  There is no resurrection here.  There is no Antichrist Raised from the Dead, and equally the Nero Redivivus Myth is entirely shot down.

Although I have not offered any “interpretation” of what or who the Beast is, or who the heads are, it matters not.  This consideration – that “one of the heads” of the Beast is raised from the dead, or that the Beast itself is slain and rises again – must be factored into any interpretation one suggests.

Daniel Unplugged

Daniel Unplugged

This is Daniel as you have never read him before. Frost offers a fresh translation and commentary in a literary fashion, presenting a challenging interpretation to the book.

$9.99

This PDF download is available by the click WITHOUT having to pay for it.  If you do this, that would be called stealing.  This is copyrighted material.  It’s mine.  Not yours.  It’s yours when you purchase it.  It is not yours to distribute (that would be called “stealing”).  I am offering this in good faith.  I am offering this in good faith until I see any abuse.  I can calculate the Downloads and the Paypal exchanges.  If there are more Downloads than Paypal exchanges, well, I pull the plug.  Simple.  “You shall not steal.”  It’s a sin.  One that if you do, you have entered into knowingly and with compliance to sin and before God.

Up is Down or is Down Up: Revelation 21-22

By Samuel M. Frost

Reading the end of Revelation may cause the appearance of confusion.  Reading Revelation under literary criticism, however,  reduces the text to a form that is derived from the text itself – offering pointers in the text so that it is rightly understood.  It is well accepted that John saw and heard these visions over a span of time (days or months we are not told) and that upon the completion of seeing and hearing them, he edited the material into the form as we now have it.

For example, John writes an Introduction (1.1-8) that was placed as such after he had already heard and seen these visions.  This same format in Revelation 21-22 is seen where he adds an Epilogue (22.17-21).  The last vision John saw was the New Jerusalem’s advent to earth in a new heavens and new earth.  All throughout the compilation, the New Jerusalem is described (using a participlian phrase, “coming down out of heaven”, 3.12; 21.2; 21.10).  It is called both the “bride” (nymphe) and “wife” (gune) of the Lord (21.9), functioning in both roles from beginning to consummation.  All throughout the work, however, the New Jerusalem is in heaven.  It remains in heaven until it finally comes down out of (ek) heaven to a new earth (since the previous earth is described as no more).

This is a critical detail for the vision relates that its gates are now open (at the time John saw the vision, 21.26).  The river of the water of life, which contains healing for the nations (22.2), flowing down from the throne in heaven to the inhabitants on the earth.  The offer to “drink” from this water is the invitation given (21.6; 22.17).  This obviously is in reference to the Gospel message, the “testimony of Jesus”, given to those who receive the Spirit. However, since the New Jerusalem is pictured as being in heaven (up there), the waters and the ability to drink is now given down here.  The waters flow from up there to down here. Those who are overcoming in this life do so because they drink from the springs of water.

The message of Revelation is to those who overcome to the end of their lives as a faithful witness of the testimony of Jesus.  It is a warning against those who may start out with good intentions, but because of the trials and temptations fall from the calling of the Lord and simply do not finish the race.  “To him who overcomes and does my will to the end” (2.26) is in reference to the end of one’s life, dying in the faith.  These upon death enter into the gates of the New Jerusalem in heaven.  That is what is promised throughout and specifically to the “churches” throughout the world (Revelation 2-3).  These, upon entrance into heaven, enter the gates of the New Jerusalem, are made a pillar, are given access to the Tree of Life, are made rulers (given thrones), are given a new name, are guided, covered, provided for and lack nothing.  What is more striking is that the New Jerusalem in heaven shall encompass kings of the earth (21.24) which implies the sheer volume of the New Jerusalem to hold the nations who walk by its light, those that are called into it.

What emerges, then, is a picture of “going to heaven” upon the event of dying on earth, having drank of the living water, and having overcome by the blood of the Lamb, washing the robes that are already now given to the saints.  The saints on earth are pictured as having robes, washing them in the blood of the Lamb, keeping them from being soiled (22.14) so that upon death they may “enter” the New Jerusalem.  16.15 intimates this, as well as 3.4-5, where the churches are addressed as keeping their robes pure.  When the Devil is seen as hurled “out of” heaven, the saints “overcame him by the blood of the Lamb” – they “endured” and “did not love their lives as to shrink from death” (12.11); they endured to the end of their lives.  These saints drink from the waters that flow from above, wash the robes given to them in the blood, remain unpolluted in that blood, and upon death, enter into the New Jerusalem in heaven….the one described as eventually “coming down out of heaven” to a new earth.

It is in the vein that we recognize in the Revelation that the word, “temple” (naos) is mentioned 16 times and is exclusively for the temple in heaven.  The temple in heaven contains the throne room and the altar.  It is within the temple that the activities of the angels are sent out to do their commissioned work.  The “churches” are promised to enter the temple upon death (3.12; 7.15) and there serve the Lord “day and night” (7.15).  What is fascinating is that when the New Jerusalem finally does come down out of heaven, there is no more night (21.25; 22.8).  More strikingly, there is no more temple, “for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb is its temple” (21.22).  There is no mistake in the singularity of the verb “is” (where one would expect “are” for the two subjects, the Lord God and the Lamb).  God Himself is the temple when the New Jerusalem finally comes down out of heaven.  This is closely followed with the removal of “the curse” (22.3).  While the curse is to be found, the temple remains in heaven, indicating that “up there” is still “up there” and “down here” is still “down here.”  The curse brought about a separation between the full presence of God with mankind and the temple signifies this curse.  In the new heavens and new earth there will no more “up there” and “down here”.  All will be one, holy dwelling.

Since these images are visibly demonstrating the relationship of the Gospel, one final passage marks the fact that since the New Jerusalem is still “up there”, then those “down here” must enter inside the gates upon death.  “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter into the city into the gates.  The dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood remain outside” (22.14,15).  The washing of the robes are those who live among the dogs and evildoers on earth – down here.  By washing their robes in the blood, enduring to the end of their lives, they enter into the gates of the city in heaven.  One description, already mentioned, is that the saints are to keep their robes from being soiled (3.6), which makes sense since they are in the world with the dogs down here.  Secondly, Jesus blesses those who keep their robes, so that they are not found “naked” (16.15).  From this we can infer that faith in the testimony of Jesus enables the Spirit to clothe the believer in a robe (which is symbolized as “righteousness” in 19.8).  These robes are made white in the blood of the lamb.  Or, another way of seeing it is that those who come to believe in Jesus already have soiled robes, and upon faith these are made white “in the blood of the Lamb” and are to be continually washed in the blood (“overcoming”) throughout their lifetime – avoiding soiling them (and when they are soiled, they are washed in the forgiving blood of the Lamb).  Either way, the imagery is made plain: the saints live in a world of dogs, sorcerers, murderers and all sorts of evil people.  If they maintain the faith in the testimony of Jesus, they are promised entrance into the New Jerusalem above.

Since we have noticed that the 16 times the word “temple” is used, it is always used for the temple in heaven, then this has implications for 11.1 where John is told to measure the temple and its worshippers (by which we assume to mean followers of Jesus, who “worship” him in heaven, in the temple – 7.15).  He is then told not the measure “the outside” for it has been given to the nations, and has been “cast out” (11.2).  The term “outside” we have already encountered in 22.15.  The outer courts, away from the temple in heaven, is cast out, outside, and given to the nations of the earth.  Among these nations are those who proclaim the faith of Jesus, who wash their robes in the blood in a world entirely antagonistic to them.  What confirms this reading is that “the temple” that John is told to measure is seen as remaining open in 11.19 of the same vision.  The fact that he is told to measure the temple and those worshipping in it (Greek) means that is was opened.  This has further implications, but one we cannot explore at the moment.

In conclusion, a clear picture emerges: the temple in the New Jerusalem, wherein are the throne, the ark, the worshippers, the thrones, the angels, the censors, the altar and the like are pictured as “up there” in heaven.  The activity of judgments occur “down here” – things are hurled “down” from “above.”  The saints are “down here” during this time (and the dead saints are up there; 6.9) and have to “overcome” by continually washing their robes in the blood til the end of their lives.  “This requires great patience on behalf of the saints” – which is a main theme of the book, for the turmoil of the world and its kings, people, leaders and presidents can cause a great deal of stress – not to mention the false religions, false doctrines, cultural pressures to conform to the world – and even further those who deliberately seek the death of those who hold to the testimony of Jesus – can cause many to doubt their commitment to Jesus in a world gone mad.  But, that’s the point: when we understand whats going on down here, and what awaits for us up there, the task at hand is made brighter in a dark place.  And, ultimately, knowing that what’s up there is promised to finally come down here, places us in the whole purpose of it all.  Each, individual saint plays a role, has a part, is issued a task, and each part hastens together with all the parts – one, big symphony of God – the arrival of the New Jerusalem out heaven to earth – where death will be no more.

Review of J. A. Hardgrave’s, Jesus Wins

J. A. Hardgrave is someone that I have just met about a year ago on Facebook.  There was an immediate attraction to his personality and faith.  Here was a person that is looking into matters and is willing to change his own views if the text demands it.  There is an honesty there that also realizes, “we ain’t all arrived, yet” – and that is rewarding to meet in this age where everyone is just so certain about what cannot be certain, yet uncertain about what can.  Topsy turvy.

Needless to say, I was approached by him on matters of Eschatology, and we both shared our disdain for what has come to be known as Full Preterism: everything is fulfilled.  Hardgrave writes, “In this book, I am going to give you simple tools that anyone can start using today to finally understand Bible prophecy and grasp what the future holds” (p. 13 – my copy – sent before publication, so there might be page differences).

“Jesus wants to work with you to transform your city, state, and the nations of the world by advancing His Kingdom and picking up where He left off in His ministry. He promised us that even greater works are available to us now that He has ascended to the Father and sent His Spirit to us, and I believe it’s time to see that promise come to pass. God has given you dreams deep within your heart that are worth investing your life in, and I believe a Biblical end-time view is crucial to seeing those dreams come to pass” (14).  My readers might immediately recognize a triumphant-in-culture view here.  They would be right.  Hardgrave exudes a contagious sense of optimism in his words – and regardless of not seeing eye to eye on every matter – that is worthy in and of itself.

J.A. starts the book off noting his being influenced by the popular Left Behind series of Tim LaHaye, thinking that the rapture might occur at any moment because the “signs” of the times were obviously pointing to the end of the world in his own day.  I was raised in the same fashion, circa 1976, when Orson Wells narrated The Late, Great Planet Earth – a movie that scared the hell out of me at church when I was nine years old. That’s not all bad, since, after all, the fear of the LORD never hurt anyone, and is the beginning of wisdom.  But, upon study, Hardgrave noticed that virtually every generation faced an “apocalyptic” scenario.  The pattern seemed to repeat itself – and there was no return of Jesus, and there was no resurrection of the dead (two Doctrines Mr. Hardgrave adamantly supports and believes in).

The book then moves to consider, step by step, how the first century would have possibly heard Jesus in their time.  They had catastrophes, too.  By relating much detail to their own time, this helps us navigate in our own.  The focus of Christianity is not looking for the end of time (although this is affirmed), but serving God in his Kingdom in the here and now.

“I don’t believe Jesus is coming soon, because His bodily return is determined by how much the Kingdom has advanced in the earth, and there’s still way too much advancement to be done” (114).  In other words, Hardgrave is advancing a Postmillennial worldview.  His last chapters on statistics concerning the influence of Christianity on culture in history is a valuable, quick go-to source for such information (all footnoted for further study).

“Prophecy is very important and should be studied and talked about, but what’s most important is people entering into a relationship with Jesus Christ by hearing the gospel and seeing that love demonstrated through us. No matter what subject we talk about, we should talk about it with love and humility because we are always growing” (119).  This is why, while not agreeing with everything in the book, the author himself should be read, for the nuggets, the humility, and the passion concerning the Kingdom of God is there – and that’s  far more important to generating a conversation about the son of man at the right hand of the Father than what we think we know about these things.  That comes through the book more than anything else – at least to me it did.  J.A. strikes me as a person that can have disagreements on issues here and there – but whoever disagrees with him will know that they both talked about the same Jesus in heaven.  The focus is on Jesus and the power of the Spirit today exemplified in holding ones own in these matters, yet knowing that essential things are of far more importance.  There is an enthusiasm here that I missed in the days of being a Full Preterist (which appears more concerned with building a doctrine than in building anything else).  Hardgrave certainly builds his case, but he builds it on the foundation of the man, Christ Jesus, who has given us His Spirit to fulfill the Commission to the world until he comes again.  He connects us to the ongoing, biblical Story that started back then, and ends up when, but is going on now.  We can toss the details about here and there, and we can also speculate on the end and the last day.  But if these conversations are taking away from the here and the now and dynamics of the never-passing-away words of Jesus, then something isn’t right.

With that, I heartily endorse this book, and I know….I have a hunch….it will not be the last book I endorse from this author.

Two Links:

https://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Wins-Times-Better-Think/dp/1641916737/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1536026343&sr=8-1&keywords=j.a.+hardgrave+jesus+wins

and: https://www.preteristarchive.com/2017_hardgrave_i-believe-partial-preterism-and-not-full-heres-why/

What About the Time Texts? (Part 2)

By Samuel M. Frost, Th. M.

In Part 1 we barely heard a peep from those who worship at the altar of the so called, “time texts.”  The first article conclusively demonstrated that what many think are “time texts” that prove that Jesus was “coming again” in 70 AD, are simply not that at all.  That they can be and have been read in another far more viable way than either the critics of Christianity want (so that they can say the Bible is false), or those who think they mean all things ended in 70 AD (both camps are simply wrong).

In this second part I want to point out a glaring problem: if we take some of these time texts the way the two camps above do (and many so called, “partial preterists”) then the NT message on this matter is deeply confused.

First off, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (enggus – Greek) (Matthew 3.2, and all like passages), is supposed to mean that 70 AD, the destruction of Jerusalem, was “at hand.”  Now, in Matthew 3.2, Jesus said this in the budding of his ministry- 31 AD.  That puts the Roman War with the Zealots (66-70AD) about 35 years off.  Keep this in mind.

Now, when Jesus was actually dealing with matters that had to do with the Fall of Judea, he said this, “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near (enggus)” (Matthew 24.32); “So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates” (24.33).  So, here we are told that “when you see these things know that it is near” – whereas before it was near when Jesus came on the scene preaching, “the kingdom of God is near”.  Well.  Wait.  How could it near in 31 AD, with signs to come 30 years from then, so that then when they saw “these things”, then they could know, “it is near”?

Secondly, who uses the language of “near” for something 35 years off?  I know I don’t.  The Super Bowl Championship of the Cleveland Browns is near!  Heck, I would cover that spread if I had to 35 years to claim it! (Well, maybe not the Cleveland Browns, but you get the point).

“He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand (enggus). I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples'” (Matthew 26.16).  Now, here, we can see that Jesus is referring to his time of suffering, the cross and the resurrection.  And, in the context, that was certainly near…just a day away.  Now, that’s just good, proper English.  If I said the Cleveland Browns Super Bowl Championship is near in January 2019 – I would be kicked out of the betting pool as a total idiot.  See where I am getting at here?  “Near” – in the Lexicons – has a couple of uses to it – and also in English, which is what the Lexicons of Koine Greek are using to convey possible meanings in English.  A Lexicographer explained this to me.  An obvious point so obvious it is easy to miss (like looking for Tide in the Laundry Aisle of a store when it is right there in front of your face – missing the forest because of the trees kind of thing).

“Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on.  See, the hour is at hand (enggus), and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners” (Matthew 26.45).  Does this need any explanation?  The verb here is in the perfect tense; “the hour has come – and is here”.  Same verb we find in the verse above (Matthew 3.2).  35 years off…or right now?

Luke is apparently aware of the possible confusion over this, and consistently writes, “Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you'” (perfect, same verb – Luke 10.9).  Not near in terms of time, but near in terms of proximity.  In Matthew 26.45 “near” in terms of time is meant – the hour has come – when Jesus said this, he was being handed over!  These are matters the attentive Bible reader must consider.

“As they heard these things, he proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near (enggus) to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was (mello) to appear immediately” (Luke 19.11).  Here is another term, mello, often abused by folks in the groups mentioned above.  This text in Luke states that the expectation of many was that when Jesus was “near” Jerusalem, the Kingdom would “immediately” (“about to” – mello) appear.  It didn’t.  They were wrong.  It is certainly interesting that Luke uses enggus in this text, almost as if saying, “see, don’t confuse that with this.”  Good job, Luke!

It’s not that mello does not ever have this meaning, or that enggus or enngizo does not have this meaning, sometimes.  It’s that in each and every instance we must interpret the passages in context.  A proof text without a context is no text.  Linguistics 101.

There are literally dozens of examples that can be shown.  If Jesus was saying the Kingdom was at hand, and he meant 70 AD, then he was 35 years off.  If he meant “at hand” in terms of proximity (the verb used with the perfect tense), the problem is at once removed.  It is not a time text.  Jesus could not have been saying he is “about to” (mello) come in 70 AD (Matthew 16.27 – For the Son of Man is going to come (mello) with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done), only to have that contradicted in Luke for those who thought the Kingdom was about to come when he entered Jerusalem.  Either Jesus in Matthew 16.27 is saying that he was about to come in his Father’s Kingdom in heaven – which would make sense if applied to his ascension – or he was 35 years off and mello means nothing at all).  Or, it could mean, as translators have taken it, that mello here (“going to”) simply stresses the certainty of an action in the future – not its time – which is entirely legitimate, too).

If there were things to happen before the 70 AD event happened so that they could “see” these things, and then think, “it is near”, then this again begs the question of why they used “it is near” all they way back in the thirties, forties and fifties of the NT writings.  They could not say, “it is near” until they saw these things first.  In fact, Jesus expressly says this: “And he said, “See that you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is at hand (enggus) !’ Do not go after them” (Luke 21.8)!  In using the Synoptics of the Gospel (Kurt Aland) and noting the parallel statements here of Luke with Matthew and Mark, Luke is the only one that mentions this statement, “the time is at hand, do not go after them.”  Again, this is because Luke is explaining to his readers the difference between time and proximity.  Don’t confuse them!  If Jesus was saying “go, preach, the time is at hand” and saying here, “do not go after those who are saying, the time is at hand,” then we have a massive contradiction here (which many critics of the Bible have noted, falsely – for even their bias to prove the Bible wrong fails to consider the nuances of this term).  If, however, in the same vein some false teachers were saying, “the Christ’s Appearance is over here.  He is here!  The Time of Messiah’s Coming is now!  He is now coming to restore all things” – if that was being said in terms of time, don’t listen to this.  Jesus is not coming in any form of any appearance, nor he is coming in any form of any shape where he could be pointed at and said, “there he is!”  The judgement of Jerusalem was indeed a judgment of the son of man – who judges from heaven where he is at the right hand of God, the one who comes on the clouds of heaven before the Holy Father who is in heaven.  Thus, the son of man is indeed near in terms of proximity (the Spirit reveals Him, and the Spirit is in union with the Son, who is in union with the man, the son of man in heaven), but Luke seems to be going out of way to say the fall of Jerusalem is not when the son of man will appear – don’t confuse them.

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim)” (Romans 10.8).  “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand” (Philippians 4.5).  Now, Jesus said, “if anyone says, he is at hand, do not listen to them.”  Paul is saying that he is at hand.  Don’t listen to Paul!  If you are reading this with any scintilla of an open mind on these matters, you should be starting to get the point.

We have not dealt with all of the so called “time texts” as it regards this matter and the radical claims I formerly made years ago in haste to prove Jesus’ Second Coming was in 70 AD.  I was dead wrong.  The way I handled God’s word was dead wrong.  The way Luke, my brother, has instructed me in his texts, is right.  We have not gone through all of these matters, but these two parts in this series has already begun to unravel the claims.  The cocksuredness of those who claim the “time texts” cannot be overcome is being shown that such a claim is bogus.  J. Stuart Russell, in his book, The Parousia (1878), and heavily used by Milton Terry (1898), was borrowed from critics of the Bible who understood each and every instance of “near” and “mello” as asserting that Jesus believed he would return in that time.  And, since this did not happen, Jesus was wrong, the Bible is not inspired, Christians are idiots.  Russell took up this charge and tried to show that 70 AD was the terminus for all such “time statements” relating to the Second Coming of Christ.  He was mistaken.  His book hardly deals with the ideas mentioned above, or even considers them.  Such an arbitrary use of these texts to force them into a straight-jacket of “they cannot mean anything else” does not reveal an exegete, but someone with an agenda.  The piety of Russell and others like him who want to “rescue” Jesus from the critics is indeed noble and understood.  The heart is in the right place….the texts are not.  This often happens.  We often blend our hearts with our heads thinking the two are the same.  This can be dangerous.  A Christian can be exegetically wrong, yet their heart is in the right place.  It’s a matter of ignorance (which we all have, admittedly).

Two points: “Near” has two relational meanings; one with time, another with proximity (“close”); these terms are translated into English as they would be used in normal English.  I feel that I need to further illustrate this last point.  Let’s take the simple Strong’s Concordance.  There, it says, “near (in place or time).”  That is, the Greek word means in English (how it is used in English) “near (in place or time).”  That’s what a Lexicon is for.  What this word means in our language, today; how we use this word in our language.  “My wife and I are very, very close” (in Greek, I could use the verb enngizo).  “My wife and I are very, very close” (we are about 50 miles from your house).  Never in English would we say, “My wife are close. We will be at your house in about 35 years.”  Understand?  Good.  See you next time for Part 3.

Who Is Jesus, Part 3

By Samuel M. Frost, Th.M.

Allow me again to post one of most greatest pieces of doctrine ever written:

“We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body; consubstantial [co-essential] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ; as the prophets from the beginning [have declared] concerning Him, and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to us” (Chalcedon, 451 AD).

These descriptions of Jesus are all in present tense.  They refer to Him now as He is.  “Perfect in manhood” (ἀνθρωπότητι – Greek, “manhood” – that which consists of “being man” – Chalcedon was written in Greek).  Manhood is defined in the next clause:  “truly man, of a reasonable [rational] soul and body.”  That is, ἐκ ψυχῆς λογικῆς καὶ σώματος, of a rational soul, reasonable soul and body.  The Logos, the Eternal Son of God was not the “soul” of Jesus, nor the “body”.  The man, Christ Jesus, had his own human soul (created) and body (created).  This constitutes, phusis or, as we saw in Part 1, morphe – “nature” – human nature.

“[O]ne and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably.”  Or, “[C]oncurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son.”  So, Two Natures, fully God (of the same Nature as God Himself) and fully man (of the same nature of Man).  One Person, the Eternal Son of God, Two Natures, divine and human.  These Natures are inseparably in union with each other.  They are “inconfusedly” in union, meaning, “not mixed” (ἀσυγχύτως – means “no confusion”).  They are “unchangeably” in union – and this is important.  The union between the Two Natures of the One Person (God the Son) is without change – it is forever a union of Two Natures of Man (rational soul and body) and God (Divine Nature, Essence, Being).  What prompted this series is the denial of such a claim by Mike Sullivan, David Green, Jeff Vaughn, Alan Bondar and Don K. Preston.  They do not believe that the One Person, Jesus Christ, now has a human nature, body and soul.  The human nature of the One Person, Jesus Christ, Eternal Son of God, uncreated, is called in the Bible, “the son of man”.  Son of God (Divine), son of man (human being, body and soul).  Any lessening of this is heresy.

“[I]ndivisibly, inseparably” – these last two further score the idea that the Two Natures of the One Person are, from the time the union was brought together in conception of the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, are now forever “indivisible” and “inseparable.”  The fullness of the “manhood” of the son of man, en toto, cannot ever be “separated” ever again.  If, then, Jesus no longer has his human body in heaven, we have separation.  If Jesus no longer has his human soul in heaven, we have division.  If Jesus no longer has any of that which is “consubstantial” ( ὁμοούσιον homousian -of the same substance) with manhood, then the Gospel is lost.

“[T]he distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved.”  This notes, again, the present understanding (“being preserved” and “concurring” are present tense) of the One Person, Two Natures in heaven.  The “distinction” is preserved, not blended by the union, not con-fused together in union, but “distinct” – Two distinct Natures.  One does not “absorb” the other.  One does not “blend” with the other.  There is no “third hybrid”.  There is One Person with Two Natures, distinct (two), yet with an inseparable union in One Person.  This is further emphasized by saying, “not parted or divided into two persons.”  There is not the person, the son of man on earth, and another person, the Son of God, Eternal, “up there.”

In the Trinity there are Three Persons, Father, Son and Spirit.  One God (one Nature, being, essence).  Do not try and “picture” this, or “image” it.  There are no images.  This is a purely propositional, intellectual statement of Faith.  Remember, it is based on two concerns: does it contradict itself?  Does it contradict the Bible?  By distinguishing the terms, “Person” and “Being” logical contradiction is avoided.  There are not Three Beings.  There is only One God, one being.  Each Person of the Godhead has their “being” in unity as One God.  The Singular Essence of One God is in Three distinct Persons.  Thus, we can say, the Logos is God.  The Spirit is God.  The Father is God.  Three Persons, One Being.  Contradiction avoided.  Mind numbing attempts of picturing or attempting the fathom this Being in His Essence in Three Persons is unfathomable.  Blessed Be His Name forever.

Now, the Son, who is God Eternal, One Person, is the sole person of his own eternal divine Nature (and all essences of God, all that is attributed to God are properties of Him), and the sole Person of the son of man, who was made a soul and body – yet without having his own human, individual person in and of himself.  We say the son of man was fully man, with a full human nature yet impersonal as to individuation, because the Person of the son of man is God, the Son.  The very Person of the soul and body of the son of man expresses himself (without confusion) in the impersonal human nature.  The Logos (The Son, Eternal God) did not possess a body.  A human individual was not made then the Logos took over that individual.  Rather, the conception of the soul and body in the womb of Mary at that instant was the Person of the Son (who is divine) expressed in and in union with the created human being, the son of man, Jesus of Nazareth, the dude.

The reason for this is that the Son Eternal “took to himself” (Part 1) human nature itself – the essence of human nature itself and all that it is and expressed himself in that “form” as a man while never losing His own Divine Attributes.  Every human being is a person (soul and body) – the soul is not the person, the body is not the person.  Soul/body is the person, and as such is entirely unique (individuated, individual).  However, not a single human person demonstrates the whole essence of human nature. There is not a single person that is every person at once.  Human nature is what every person has and is, but not any one person demonstrates all the human nature is.  Not until Jesus.  By taking on human nature, the Son of God took on that which is common to every human being.  If the son of man was a human person, he would be a human person common to himself as a single person.  By taking on human nature and being the Divine Person of that nature, the Son was able to take on all that human nature is in common to every human person.

The Son, the Eternal, expresses his Person in two Natures.  In regards to his Divine Nature, the Son never emptied himself, nor ever forfeited, nor relinquished any of the attributes of God.  In regards to the son of man, the Person of the Eternal Son was limited in that human nature, and so “in union” with that nature that we find human expressions only attributable to human nature: thirst, sleep, ignorance, growing in wisdom, an infant, ate, pooped, got dirty, needed a bath, clipped his nails, burped, etc.  “Yet without sin”.  By taking on the essence of human nature, the Son did not take upon himself fallen human nature.  He was without sin, nor born with any of the fallen propensities of sin that you and I are so easily entangled with.  This is another reason why “impersonal” comes into play.  There was no human being of natural birth between a fallen man and a fallen woman that the Logos could indwell or created.  The son of man was made by the Holy Spirit and the natural means of biological gestation and being formed in Mary’s womb for nine months.  There was an umbilical cord, and his penis was circumcised on the eighth day according to Jewish custom.

We have covered a ton of material.  The One Person of the Son of God, Eternal, Uncreated, took to Himself human nature and made a man in the image of God, image of Adam, without sin.  The man, Christ Jesus, and the Son of God, One Person, from that creation cannot ever be “separated” ever again.  The soul and body of Jesus was separated at the cross, and he died (though this did not at all separate the union of the two natures in One Person, and we cannot say the Divine Nature died – an absurdity in itself).  He was raised from the dead, with his same soul and his same body, and was glorified and entered heaven, soul and body, the son of man; human nature forever in union with Divine Nature in One Person, Jesus (the Eternal Son) Christ (the Messiah, annointed son of man).  Any denial of this fact is egregious error that absolutely destroys the Christian Faith.  For, if God and Man are not in all ways in union by human nature and divine nature in One Person forever, then man is lost and has zero hope of ever being eternally with God.  For, it is by this Holy Union of the Two Natures in One Person forever that man can comes and dwells with God in all holiness, with all righteousness with God in Jesus.  Any doctrine or teaching that takes away any nth degree of this union of the human nature (body and soul) and the divine nature in One Person is to be shunned and deemed heretical; a doctrine of demons; a conjuring up from the mere mind of man; feeble and good only for the trash can.