By Samuel M. Frost, Th.M.
“Sam Frost, will you ever stop misrepresenting what I have said?
Did I say that the promises would come through obedience to the Law of Moses? Not a word, and you know full well that I do not believe that.
Did I say that the setting aside of the Mosaic Covenant was the setting aside of the promises? Not a hint of that, and you know full well that I do not believe that.
Did I suggest that righteousness came through Torah observance? Not a keystroke, and you know I do not believe that.
So, when you build your straw man here, it is pretty easy to knock it down and burn it, right? Trouble is that you know full well that I do not teach any of that, so why in the world do you make it out that I do?
Is your reading comprehension ability that bad?
Here is the issue:
Jesus said not one jot or one tittle of “the law” could pass until it was all fulfilled. Undeniably true– and it haunts you.
In Jesus’ discussion in Matthew 5, ‘the law” was patently the law of Moses.
But, the law of Moses– the covenant of Moses- contained within it, the eschatological promises of the final resurrection.
The Abrahamic Covenant promises were assimilated into and became “the hope of Israel.” This is the continuity of the covenant– right, Sam?
There was not an Abrahamic eschatological hope and a Hope of Israel eschatology. There was but one eschatological hope– not an Adamic eschatology different from the Abrahamic, which was different from the hope of Israel.
This means that the Adamic hope, the Abrahamic hope, and the hope of Israel would be fulfilled, when “the Law” passed away, because, those covenant promises had now become ‘the law” the hope of Israel – Matthew 5.
Paul is clear that the inheritance, i.e. the Abrahamic inheritance, would be given at the end of time of “childhood” the end of servitude under the “guardian” – the Law.
It would be given when the children of the flesh- the children of Torah- were cast out for persecuting the children of promise- Galatians 4. The inheritance is never posited at the end of the (endless) Christian age, or some proposed “end of time.”
All of this means that until every jot and every tittle of “the law” – the Mosaic Covenant which had come to include the Abrahamic and Adamic promise- was fulfilled, not one jot or tittle of that Mosaic Covenant could pass.
Let me state this even more succinctly:
Not one jot or one tittle of the law of Moses (the Mosaic Covenant, inclusive of the prophecies, John Stott) could pass until it was ALL fulfilled.
But, the Law of Moses (the Mosaic Covenant) predicted the eschatological resurrection.
Therefore, not one jot or one tittle of the law of Moses (the Mosaic Covenant, inclusive of the prophecies) could pass until the eschatological resurrection occurs, comes to pass.
Let me expound a bit on this:
The law of Moses– the covenant of Moses- contained within it, the eschatological promises of the final resurrection. The feast days of Israel, and the seventh day Sabbath foreshadowed the resurrection. The resurrection promises to Israel- contained in her Feast days, as well as in the overt prophecies (Isaiah 25-27 / Daniel 12 / Hosea 13) – were not the promises of a different resurrection from that promised to Adam or Abraham. If you say it is, then prove it!
Therefore until every jot and every tittle of “the law” the Mosaic Covenant- was fulfilled, the “the law”– “the Mosaic Covenant” could not be annulled– removed as you claim.
Since the eschatology of the Law of Moses is the same eschatology as Adam and Abraham, that means when God’s covenant promises to Israel were fulfilled, and the Mosaic Covenant was removed, it means that the Adamic promise and the Abrahamic Covenant promises were fulfilled. Not annulled, fulfilled. As just noted, the Inheritance was to be at the end of the Mosaic Law.
So, I reiterate my statement: for your claim that the Law of Moses- the Covenant- could be annulled and yet, there be future eschatological consummation, you have to show that the eschatological promises of the Mosaic Covenant were different from the eschatology of Adam and Abraham– but you can’t do it.
You have to show that “the law” in Matthew 5 could pass without the resurrection taking place- and yet, there be another Old Testament “the law” that contained the hope of another resurrection – that remains valid until your proposed end of the Christian age. I challenge you to set out to prove this. You simply cannot get that from Jesus’ words in Matthew 5.
To prove your case, you must prove that the hope of Adam, Abraham, and Israel, is now continued, unfulfilled, and is to be fulfilled at the end of the endless Christian age– but you can’t do it. After all, when the NT writers spoke of their eschatological hope, they invariably say it was the hope of Israel found in the Law of Moses, God’s Old Covenant promises made to Old Covenant Israel.
As the entire corpus of Scripture shows– as I have proven repeatedly- the one hope of Adam, Abraham, of Israel, was to be realized at the end of the Mosaic Covenant age, when “the sons of the kingdom” were cast out (Matthew 8:11)– and the inheritance given to the children of promise (Galatians 4). It would be at the time of the fulfillment of God’s Old Covenant promises made to Old Covenant Israel (1 Corinthians 15:54-56).” (Complete extract from Don K. Preston)
The following is the complete “response” from Don Preston, for those of you who may have missed it. While Don has been continually hammering away at my own theological musings in paper after paper (and I engaged him for a time with my own responses on this blog), we have been continuing to exchange FaceBook jabs.
So, I am just going to go through this line by line and comment as I go. For me, this latest vociferation from Preston is enough to demonstrate what I have known all along: Preston does not have a clue as to what he is saying, and is so one-sided in his self-created “covenant eschatology” doctrines (which does not have the support from any sector of Christendom, or academia) that it appears to me that whatever I say in response is simply in one ear and out the other. There is absolutely no attempt on Preston’s part to understand what others are saying in disagreement with him. This is where I do have an advantage, for, as I have stated many time, Preston publishes my book when I espoused what he continues to teach. I do understand his view, the Scriptures he uses, why he uses them and where he goes with them in his interpretations of them. His entire reading of the Bible is viewed through the lens of “all prophecy was fulfilled by the time of the Fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.” What is most, extremely important in his view (Covenant Eschatology, which, it must be noted, not all Full Preterists adhere to) is that the covenant made with Moses, what is called “the old covenant” by Paul (2nd Corinthians 3.14), was in full force until AD 70.
Now, I have not traded with Preston every recent article he has written about me. The reason is that I have not heard anything from Preston that would even come close to refuting what I have said. But, I tend to stop responding after I find that I am merely repeating my claims to no avail. I have to rewrite arguments that I have already written.
Let’s take Preston’s line here: “Jesus said not one jot or one tittle of “the law” could pass until it was all fulfilled. Undeniably true– and it haunts you.
In Jesus’ discussion in Matthew 5, ‘the law” was patently the law of Moses.
But, the law of Moses– the covenant of Moses- contained within it, the eschatological promises of the final resurrection.”
It doesn’t “haunt” me at all. Notice what Preston does, what I have called repeatedly, “the shell game” (found here). Preston explicitly agreed with me that the “law and the prophets” refers to the “entirely of the Hebrew Bible.” That is, every jot and tittle from Genesis to Malachi is the “law and the prophets.” From the quote I used from John R.W. Stott, the same idea is made. Stott wrote, “His reference now was only to ‘the law’ rather than to ‘the law and the prophets’, as in the previous verse, but we have no reason to suppose that he was deliberately omitting the prophets; ‘the law’ was a comprehensive term for the total divine revelation of the Old Testament.” I have said this over and over again, consistently, explicitly. Yet, Preston, who initially agreed with me on this point, now says, “the law” in Matthew 5.18 is exclusively and only the “law of Moses”, or “the covenant of Moses.” Folks, this is called the ole’ shell game. It may be missed by those who fawn all over Preston’s every word, but not to the many who have seen it with a critical eye. So, let me say it again: the covenant made with Moses is in the Hebrew Bible, but is not the entirety of the Hebrew Bible. Preston speaks from both sides of his mouth.
Now, Preston wants to connect the Promises to the old covenant itself. That is, the promises cannot be fulfilled unless the old covenant is valid. If the old covenant is rendered invalid, the promises cannot be fulfilled. Yet, he writes, “This means that the Adamic hope, the Abrahamic hope, and the hope of Israel would be fulfilled, when “the Law” passed away, because, those covenant promises had now become ‘the law” the hope of Israel – Matthew 5. Now, notice here that he equates the Promises with “the law”, or “the old covenant.” If the old covenant was dissolved, or abrogated in one jot or tittle, then the Promises could not be fulfilled. Each jot and tittle had to be in full force. Not one single jot or tittle of the covenant law of Moses could pass away until all of it did in AD 70. The problem here is countered with one simple mention of the Apostle Paul: he did not circumcise his Gentile converts. The Jewish believers, some of them anyway, preached, “unless the Gentiles are circumcised and obey the law of Moses, they cannot be saved” (Acts 15). They preached what Preston preaches! Well, at least they understood the matter better than Preston. The Law demanded, explicitly, that anyone who assimilated into the commonwealth of Israel must be circumcised. Paul explicitly taught against this. This one jot of the Law must have “passed away.”
Now, Preston wants us to believe that the Promises are not based upon the old covenant. In fact, her writes, “Did I say that the setting aside of the Mosaic Covenant was the setting aside of the promises? Well, yes. He just did in the quote above! If the Promises “has now become the law”, then the setting aside of the Mosaic Covenant (which is the Law, for Preston) would be the setting aside of the Promises! The Promise of the resurrection of the dead, for Preston, “had now become the law”. Therefore, if the Law is set aside, then so are the Promises. I argued, and argue, that the old covenant was set aside at the Cross, but the Promises are fulfilled (are being fulfilled and will be fulfilled) in the New Covenant, the better covenant. Preston so ties them together that the Promises made while the old covenant was ratified with Moses, could not be fulfilled unless the old covenant made with Moses was legitimate. Quite simply, logically, if the old covenant, in any jot and tittle, were set aside (which it most explicitly was, as anyone can see in Hebrews), then the Promises, according to Preston, cannot be fulfilled. So, when Preston says I misrepresent him, it is plain that I do not. Preston says that he does not teach that the setting aside of the Mosaic Covenant means the setting aside of the Promises. Yet, he also says, the Promises “had now become the law”! Well, if you set aside the law, you set aside the promises! This is a flat out contradiction on Preston’s part.
Let Preston state in his own words what I am saying he says, “All of this means that until every jot and every tittle of “the law” – the Mosaic Covenant which had come to include the Abrahamic and Adamic promise- was fulfilled, not one jot or tittle of that Mosaic Covenant could pass. Now, it is plain from these words that “not one jot or tittle” of the Mosaic Covenant could pass. Yet, the Letter to the Hebrews explicitly says that the Levitical Priesthood was “set aside.” That there must be “a change in the Law.” The High Priesthood of Christ superceded, and set aside, the earthly priesthood. The assemblies of God were called, “a nation of priests.” What, are their two legitimate priesthoods going on in that era? This is patently absurd. Yet, “not one jot or tittle” could be set aside according to Preston. This is double-speak, for Preston also argues that the New Covenant had indeed come in Christ. He must, therefore, argue that two competing covenants, each ordained of God, were going on at the same time! So, how does he “get around” this? Well, if a Jew, born under the law, came to be “in Christ”, then that Jew, obligated as he was to every jot and tittle of the Mosaic Covenant, “died” to that very covenant, and was no longer under those jots and tittles! This is his explanation for Paul’s clear break with the strict, legal, jots and tittles stipulations required by the law for the Gentiles. However, if the Promises “have now become the law”, then any break with the Mosaic Covenant would be a break with the Promises! Yet, the Promises, which have “now become the law”, are said to be fulfilled in the New Covenant! How can the Promises be fulfilled in the New Covenant, when, according to Preston, the Promises “have now become the law” or “the Mosaic Covenant”?
Listen to Preston again, “It would be at the time of the fulfillment of God’s Old Covenant promises made to Old Covenant Israel.”Folks, notice what is going on here. The Promises are not New Covenant promises, but Old Covenant promises! Yet, the New Covenant is the fulfillment of the Old! It is in the New Covenant that the Promises made under the Old Covenant are fulfilled, but, if that is the case, then the New Covenant, “which is not like the covenant I made with your forefathers” (the old), then in order for the New Covenant Promises to be realized at all, the old covenant has to be set aside! That is the whole point of the Letter to the Hebrews, and Paul’s, and all the Apostles’ ministries! The Spirit of the Lord, poured out on all flesh (not just the Jews), is a New Covenant Promise. The forgiveness of sins is a New Covenant Promise (Jeremiah 31.34). If the forgiveness of sins is required before one could be raised from the dead, and the forgiveness of sins is a New Covenant Promise, then, logically, the resurrection of the dead, the hope of Israel, is to be realized in the New Covenant, not the Old! Yet, for Preston, the old covenant, the promises made under the old covenant, can only be realized when the old covenant was set aside in AD 70. The resurrection of the dead, then, was fulfilled under the old covenant! Keep in mind, “the promises had now become the law” and “the resurrection” was exclusively “contained within” the old covenant, not the new.
Folks, this is a mess. An absolute mess. The old covenant made with Moses was a temporary covenant. It was meant to point out the weakness of the flesh, that in, by, through, and of the flesh the kingdom of God cannot be realized. God had to become flesh in order to redeem flesh. God had to, by his own oath to himself, make a new covenant wherein the Promises can now be applied to his people. By making a new covenant, the first covenant became obsolete, old, so brittle that it was ready to vanish away with a blow of breath. Poof. It would not be the covenant through which the Promises were fulfilled. If it was, then Christ died for nothing. Righteousness is a requirement, a prerequisite to resurrection. If righteousness came by the law, the old covenant, then Christ died for nothing. If resurrection comes by the law, the old covenant, then Christ died for nothing. Rather, what Paul preached is a “righteousness that comes by faith, APART FROM LAW, to which the Law and the Prophets testify!” Now, this means that the Hebrew Scriptures, which contain within it the covenant of Moses, ALSO teaches “apart” from that covenant, apart from law, that righteousness comes by faith. It teaches a new covenant, the eternal covenant that was always unfolding through the other covenants until Christ ratified it with his blood, setting aside all of those elements and commands which stood against mankind, nailing them to the cross. This new covenant is the one through which all the Promises are “yes and amen” in Christ. It brings us a righteousness that is by faith. A righteousness that is required in order to be raised in glory at the last day. If this righteousness, apart from the old covenant, the law, is the pre-requisite for resurrection, and this righteousness comes in the New Covenant, and not the old, rather, apart from the old, then Preston is sadly mistaken. The Old Covenant reveals, testifies to, teaches, proclaims, as well as the Prophets, that righteousness comes APART FROM the old covenant laws, and if this is the case, then the Promises are fulfilled APART FROM the old covenant. The New Covenant is “not like” the old. The old was made weak through the flesh. It could not bring about the Promises, nor the Fulfillments. Yet, God swore on oath to himself, to Him who does not change, that “a change in the law” would come “so that” the Promises could be realized for all, and not just old covenant Israel. If the Promises “have now become the law”, and the law, or “Mosiac Covenant”, “could perfect no one, then we are all most miserable people.