By Samuel M. Frost, Th.M.
It often boggles my mind how I can read a translation of a verse or two and simply take for granted my own interpretation. However, upon closer, critical analysis, what I thought was there is not there at all.
A recent brother from Italy was asking me some questions concerning 2 Thessalonians 1.7,8 and wondering if this was in reference to 70 AD and the war of the Romans against Judea. First off, let’s read a sampling of translations:
“And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (King James Version).
“and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (English Standard Version).
“and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels” (New International Version).
“and to you who are troubled — rest with us in the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven, with messengers of his power” (Young’s Literal).
“and to grant rest along with us to you who are undergoing afflictions, at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his mighty angels” (New American Bible).
This is enough to show me, as one that reads Greek, that something is going on. So upon reading the Greek text Paul is not saying anything that relates to 70 AD, a Second Coming, or anything like that at all.
First, the Thessalonikans were undergoing “persecution and affliction” from their “fellow country men” as Paul noted. This is a “judgment of God” (1.5) in that those who are being troubled for the Gospel of Jesus are being “counted worthy” of the Kingdom (1.5). They are not being judged, but, instead, are being refined. Those troubling them, however, are being judged.
“For it is a righteous thing with God to repay…” (1.6). Repay who? The Dative Case follows, “to the ones afflicting you” (1.6). Now, God’s “repayment” does not stop with them. Rather, the Dative Case also includes the Thessalonikans: “and to you (1.7) the ones being afflicted, rest…” In other words, God is repaying those who are doing the afflicting, and he is repaying those who are being afflicted with rest (anesis in Greek, and here in the Accusative Case, the object of the Infinitive, “to repay”). This is not something that is going to happen, but is happening.
Now, the text does not stop with anesis, but describes the source of this rest that they have. “And to you, the ones being afflicted, rest with us in the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with angels of his power in flaming fire.” Now, this is where the translations get sideways. “en te apokalupsei” is translated, amazingly, as “when the Lord Jesus is revealed.” But, as one can see, “in the revelation of the Lord Jesus” is a prepositional phrase. There is no verb here. Jesus has already been revealed as to Who He Is. They are to find “rest” and “comfort” in the fact of the revelation of Jesus Christ from heaven, who is with his angels in flaming fire!
Now, in my studies in Daniel, that phrase “flaming fire” caught my eye, because I have seen it before. In Daniel 7.10 the Ancient of Days’ throne is described in the Greek Version of the Hebrew Bible (the Septuagint, used by the Apostles) as “a flaming fire”. The words there are the same here. In Daniel 7.13-14 we have been noting that the son of man, the Lord Jesus Christ, with the angels, is presented “with them” before the Ancient of days. It is now revealed who this son of man person is. This is the One that made the Gospel they preached, and the Thessalonikans believed, liable to suffering and persecution.
Jesus, the son of man, is “in heaven”, and “from heaven” it has been revealed (“revelation”) that he is with the angels in flaming fire. Paul is saying to them, “yes, you are being troubled for this revelation. But, this is a judgment from the Throne to them, and to you, find rest in that you know the revelation of Jesus Christ who among the angels in flames of fire.” Jaw dropping.
But, we are not finished. Jesus, in heaven with the angels in flaming fire, “is giving full vengeance to the ones not knowing God and to the ones not obeying the Gospel” (1.8). This is not someting going to happen. It was happening (and still does, for the Lord Jesus repays from heaven from heaven those who trouble his people – marking them, while all they yet refining through tribulation those that are his: conforming them to his image).
What is the future of those who do not repent at his repayments of judgment? “…who, justice, they will suffer, eternal destruction from the face of the Lord…” (1.9). And when is this? Well, the indefinite subjunctive is used with an aorist subjunctive: “when he comes to be glorified in his saints, to be adored in all the ones who have believed the testimony of us to you – in that day” (1.10). That is, when “all” stand before Him in that day, the last day. Paul gives no hint at all as to “when” – in calendar times – that happens. It wasn’t 70 AD.
Therefore, Paul is saying to those being persecuted, and to us as well, that Jesus, the son of man in heaven with the angels in fiery flames, before the throne of God, repays those who persecute the faithful in all generations. That, as believers in the revelation of Jesus Christ, that he is before the Father, that he is the Son of Man, the Son of God in heaven, we should find rest and comfort in this, knowing that if those who create trouble for the Church do not repent, they will be judged when Jesus comes to be glorified in all the saints who have believed, ever. On that day they will be given eternal destruction, but the saints will be glorified in Him, eternal life. Such wonderful encouragement to the faithful who still believes the Gospel of the Apostles.
Author: Samuel M. Frost, Th.D.
Samuel M. Frost has gained the recognition of his family, peers, colleagues, church members, and local community as a teacher and leader. Samuel was raised in the Foursquare Gospel tradition and continued in the rising Charismatic Movement of the early 1980’s. While serving in local congregations he was admitted to Liberty Christian College in Pensacola, Florida where he lived on campus for four years earning his Bachelor’s of Theology degree. It was there under the tutelage of Dr. Dow Robinson (Summer Institutes of Linguistics), and Dr. Frank Longino (Dallas Theological Seminary) that he was motivated to pursue a career in Theology. Dr. Robinson wrote two books on Linguistics, Workbook on Phonological Analysis (SIL, 1970) and Manuel for Bilingual Dictionaries: Textbook (SIL, 1969). It was under these teachers’ guidance that Frost entered into his Master’s studies, being granted a scholarship for Greek I and II at Pentecostal Theological Seminary, accredited, in Cleveland, Tennessee (adjunct of Lee University). Frost completed his study under Dr. French Arrington (The Ministry of Reconciliation, Baker Books, 1980), who used the text of J. Gresham Machen, New Testament Greek for Beginners.
Frost studied Hebrew for two years under Dr. Mark Futato (author, Beginning Biblical Hebrew, Eisenbrauns, 2003) and Dr. Bruce K. Waltke (author, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax, Eisenbrauns, 1990) at Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, Florida. With combined credits from PTS and RTS, Samuel completed his Master of Arts in Christian Studies and Master of Arts in Religion from Whitefield Theological Seminary in Lakeland, Florida under the direct tutelage of Dr. Kenneth G. Talbot, co-author of the well reviewed work, Hyper-Calvinism and Arminianism (Whitefield Media, 2005) with Dr. Gary Crampton (and Foreword by the late, Dr. D. James Kennedy). Dr. Talbot also oversaw Samuel’s Dissertation, From the First Adam to the Second and Last Adam (2012) earning him the Magister Theologiae (Th.M.) degree. He also helped put together A Student’s Hebrew Primer for WTS, designed and graded exams for their Hebrew Languages course.
Samuel’s studies lead him into an issue in the field of Eschatology where his scholarship and unique approach in Hermeneutics garnered him recognition. Because of the controversial nature of some of his conclusions, scholars were sharp in their disagreement with him. Frost’s initial work, Misplaced Hope: The Origins of First and Second Century Eschatology (2002, Second Edition, 2006 Bi-Millennial Publishing), sold over four thousand units. While arguing for the Reformation understanding of sola Scriptura as defined by the Westminster Confession of Faith, Frost’s book launched a heavily footnoted argument for a total reassessment of the doctrine known as the Second Coming of Christ. The conclusion was that the events of the war of the Jewish nation against their Roman overlords in 66-70 C.E. formed the New Testament authors’ eschatological outlook, and went no further than their own first century generation; a view otherwise known as “full” or "hyper" Preterism. Internationally recognized Evangelical author and speaker, Steve Wohlberg remarked, ‘On the “preterist” side today…we have such influential leaders as Gary DeMar, Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., David Chilton, R.C. Sproul, Max King, James Stuart Russell, Samuel M. Frost, and John Noe. To these scholars…the beast is not on the horizon, he’s dead” (Italics, his)” (End Time Delusions, Destiny Image Publishers, 2004, page 133). It should be noted that only Noe, King and Frost supported the “full” Preterist position.
Thomas Ice and co-author of the best selling Left Behind series, Tim LaHaye, quote Frost’s work, Misplaced Hope, as well in their book, The End Times Controversy: The Second Coming under Attack (Harvest House Publishers, 2003, page 40). Dr. Jay E. Adams, who single handedly launched “a revolution” in Christian Counseling with his work, Competent to Counsel: An Introduction to Nouthetic Counseling, (1970, Zondervan), also wrote an analysis of Frost’s work in Preterism: Orthodox or Unorthodox? (Ministry Monographs for Modern Times, INS Publishing, 2004). Adams wrote of Misplaced Hope as a "useful, scholarly work" (p.6 - though he disagreed with the overall thesis). Dr. Charles E. Hill, Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, wrote of Misplaced Hope that Frost, “attacks the problem of the early church in a much more thoroughgoing way than I have seen” (When Shall These Things Be? A Reformed Response to Hyper Preterism, Ed. Keith Mathison, Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing, 2003, ‘Eschatology in the Wake of Jerusalem’s Fall’ p. 110-ff.). There were several other works as well that took the scholarship of Frost seriously, like Ergun Caner in The Return of Christ: A Premillennial Perspective, Eds., Steve W. Lemke and David L. Allen (B&H Publishing, 2011).
Because of the controversial nature of Frost’s conclusions on these matters, it was difficult to find a denomination within the Church-at-Large to work in terms of pastoral ministry. That situation changed when Samuel was called by a Bible study group in Saint Petersburg, Florida to found a congregation. Christ Covenant Church was established in 2002 operating under the principles outlined by Presbyterian historian James Bannerman’s work, The Church of Christ: A Treatise on the Nature, Powers, Ordinances, Discipline, and Government of the Christian Church (Banner of Truth Trust, 1974, original, 1869). By-Laws and a Constitution were drawn up in the strictest manner for what was considered an “Independent” establishment of a Presbyterian Church, granted that a “call” was received and recognized by Presiding Elders duly ordained from existing and recognized denominations. Two Elders, one ordained in the Reformed Presbyterian Church (Mike Delores), and another ordained in the Presbyterian Church of America (Dr. Kelly N. Birks, now deceased) tested and reviewed the call, ordaining Samuel on October 20th, 2002, the Twenty Second Sunday after Trinity. Proper forms were submitted to Tallahassee, Florida with the stamp of a Notary Public Witness. Christ Covenant Church (CCC) functioned as a local church for five years with a congregation as large as 30 members. Frost was gaining recognition after Misplaced Hope had been published in January of that year, and conferences were hosted that included debates with another prominent "full" Preterist educator, Don K. Preston. CCC hosted best-selling authors, Thomas Ice, and Mark Hitchcock from Dallas Theological Seminary; and Dr. James B. Jordan (Westminster Theological Seminary), well-known author/pastor in Reformed theological circles. Frost was invited for the next several years to speak at over 25 conferences nation-wide, was featured in articles and an appearance on local news in Tampa for one of CCC’s conferences. The Evangelical Theological Society also invited Samuel to speak at the Philadelphia conference (Frost is currently a Member of ETS as well as Society of Biblical Literature).
During this time Samuel had submitted one more book, Exegetical Essays on the Resurrection of the Dead (TruthVoice, 2008; repr. JaDon Publishing, 2010); and co-wrote, House Divided: A Reformed Response to When Shall These Things Be? (Vision International, 2010). Frost also wrote several Forewords for up and coming authors who were influenced by his teaching materials, as well as cited many times in books, lectures and academic papers. However, because of certain aspects of Hermeneutics and Frost’s undaunted commitment to scholarship (with always a strong emphasis on the personal nature of devotional living to Christ), several challenges to the "hyper" Preterist view he espoused finally gave way, largely due to the unwavering commitment to Samuel by the Dean of Whitefield Theological Seminary, Dr. Kenneth G. Talbot, who continually challenged him. In what shocked the "hyper" Preterist world, Samuel announced after the Summer of 2010 that he was in serious error, and departed the movement as a whole, along with Jason Bradfield, now Assistant Pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church, Lakeland, Florida . Christ Covenant Church had dissolved after 2007 while Samuel continued as a public speaker and writer, largely due to reasons that would unravel Frost’s commitment to "hyper" Preterism as a whole.
The documentation of Frost’s departure was published by American Vision’s Founder, Gary DeMar, with a Foreword by Dr. Kenneth L. Gentry. Why I Left Full Preterism (AV Publishing, 2012) quickly ran through its first run. The book was later republished under the arm of Dr. Kenneth L. Gentry and is sold today (GoodBirth Ministries Publishing, 2019; though still available in Kindle form from American Vision). Dr. Gentry also gave mention to Frost in his book, Have We Missed the Second Coming: A Critique of Hyper Preterism (Victorious Hope Publishing, 2016), noting him as "one of the most prominent" teachers within Full Preterism (135). Dr. Keith Mathison, Professor of Systematic Theology at Reformation Bible College in Sanford, Florida, endorsed the book as well. Samuel has gone on to write, Daniel: Unplugged (McGahan Publishing House, 2021); The Parousia of the Son of Man (Lulu Publishing, 2019); God: As Bill Wilson Understood Him, A Theological Analysis of Alcoholics Anonymous (Lulu Publishing, 2017). He is also active as a certified Chaplain with the Henry County Sheriff’s Department, Indiana, and enrolled with ICAADA (Indiana Counselor’s Association on Alcohol and Drug Abuse), and worked directly under Dr. Dennis Greene, Founder of Christian Counseling and Addictions Services, Inc., for a year. Frost’s passion is in the education of the local church on various issues and occasionally works with Pastor Alan McCraine with the First Presbyterian Church in Lewisville, Indiana, and Bethel Presbyterian Church, Knightstown, Indiana, where he periodically is called upon to give the sermon. Samuel, with his wife, Kimberly, helped to establish Heaven’s Bread Basket food pantry that donates food items to local families in need once a month – a ministry of the Session of First Presbyterian Church, Lewisville, Indiana.
Samuel also works part time at Ace Hardware in New Castle, Indiana for several years. He has a solid, family reputation in the community, and has performed local marriages and funerals. He also sits on the Board of the Historical Preservation Committee in New Castle. Recently, he has completed his two year quest for a Th.D from Christian Life School of Theology Global, Georgia.
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2 thoughts on “Fiery Flames”
How do you see Jesus delivering up (giving up) the kingdom to the Father after he has abolished all rule and all authority and power (1Co 15:24)?
The image in Daniel 7.13,14 is that the son of man is “given” a kingdom. In 1 Corinthians 15 he, the son of man, “delivers” a kingdom. For me, this is the new heavens and new earth, wherein the son of man reigns forever in subjection to God (Father, Son and Spirit).