Paul’s Sermon to the Greeks

Paul’s Gospel to the Greeks in Athens who knew next to little about Moses, the covenants and the promises is a remarkable sermon. He was speaking to Epicureans and Stoics. Epicureans were derived from a Philosopher named, Epicurus (340-270 BCE). Epicurus wrote, “Accustom thyself to believe that death is nothing to us, for good and evil imply sentience, and death is the privation of all sentience;… Death, therefore, the most awful of evils, is nothing to us, seeing that, when we are, death is not come, and, when death is come, we are not.” There is no afterlife.

The Stoics, on the other hand, was a rival philosophy.  Zeno of Citium (on the Island of Cyprus) taught in the fourth century BCE.  He eventually found his way to Athens and his followers gathered on the “painted porch” (Greek, stoa, or ‘porch’, from stoa poikile or ‘painted porch’ located in Athens), from whence the named, Stoicism is derived.  Paul’s Aereopagite Sermon (Acts 17.22-ff) is directed to them.  By the time of Paul, both Epicureanism and Stoicism were well developed and well known philosophies.  Although rival philosophies, which is not the subject of this paper, they did stand in agreement that there was no afterlife in terms of individuals.  For the Stoics, “nature” is God itself.  Time has neither a beginning nor an end.  There is no “history” since it is “infinite” and “cyclical”.  There is no beginning, there is no end. Epicureanism and Stoicism were well developed and well known philosophies.  Although rival philosophies, which is not the subject of this paper, they did stand in agreement that there was no afterlife in terms of individuals.  For the Stoics, “nature” is God itself.  Time has neither a beginning nor an end.  There is no “history” since it is “infinite” and “cyclical”.  There is no beginning, there is no end.

So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’;1 as even some of your own poets have said, “‘ For we are indeed his offspring.’ 29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead” (English Standard Version, Acts 17.22-31). 

Paul first confronts them with terms they would know.  The idea of the kosmos (world) being made – a cosmogony – was a topic often debated among the Greek elites.  Paul proclaims the worldview of the Hebrews: God made the world and all that is in it, and he is the Lord of both heaven and earth since he made them in the beginning.  God is in no need of anything in terms of his “being”.  God is not locally confined to buildings – and whether these philosophers were familiar with Judaism and their temple cult or not, Paul said, “temples” in the plural, and that would include the one in Jerusalem.  God is omnipresent.

Being served “by human hands” is also a nod towards religious offerings.  He doesn’t need them, nor are they required.  What could one offer to God that is not already his, or not already given life to by him?  Every man’s breath is in the operation of God.  Again, Paul is preaching – without quoting any verse – from the Hebrew Scriptures.  Appealing again to Genesis, God made “one man” and from him every nation of all came into being.  He made the world and ‘everything’ in it.  Paul then moves to quote two of their poets.  The first line is a bit fuzzy, but many associate it with the poet, Epimenides. The latter line, “we are his offspring” speaks of Aratus, who lived in the fourth and third centuries BCE:

Let us begin with Zeus, whom we mortals never leave unspoken. 
For every street, every market-place is full of Zeus. 
Even the sea and the harbour are full of this deity. 
Everywhere everyone is indebted to Zeus. 
For we are indeed his offspring … 
— Phaenomena 1–5 

What was directed to Zeus, Paul reinterprets to speak of the God of Genesis.  Paul incorporated pagan themes which could be restructured with his own Hebrew religion and demonstrates what is today called, “cross cultural communication.”  After all, God made Aratus and Epimenides, too.

“God is not far from each one of us” is simply another way of saying, “The Lord is near”.  And, it is here that I wish to make the point.  Paul’s eschatology is hardly rooted in his knowledge that Jesus spoke of “armies surrounding Jerusalem” at some point.  This he knew.  Here, to these Greeks, he utterly fails to mention it.  Instead, God has fixed “a day” in which he will “judge the world” (the world he made and everything in it) through “a man”.  The man, Messiah Yeshua.  The world is going to be judged on a day by a human being: the son of man.  And God has demonstrated this fact by raising this human being up from the dead.  This man, still very much alive, will (in the future) judge the world on a fixed day.  Now, remember, this is the same world that God made, and everything in it.  The world God made that came “from one man” and the “nations” that came from him.  Paul has incorporated the entire history of the world up to this fixed, certain “day” in which a risen human being will judge it.  That’s what he is saying.  The “world” will end.  This was entirely foreign to these Greeks.  They had no final “end”.  They had an infinite, cyclical recurrence/rebirth of the Cosmic Nature (for the Stoics, that was Reason, which was material, and for the Epicureans, there wasn’t really anything).  Paul’s view of History, with a Beginning and an End was entirely foreign to the Greeks.  The idea that “history” was “progressing” to a “fixed day” or point in which all things within history would reach their zenith in perfection (for those who believe), and an eternal judgment for those who did not was Jewish, not Greek.  It gave “purpose” to history, and, thus, “history” as we know it was born into the modern era.

Now, it is an interesting point in grammar that Paul mentioned only the resurrection (anastasis) of Jesus.  In fact, the Greek is emphatic: having raised him out of the dead ones (plural).  Only one previously dead man has been “raised out of the dead ones”: Jesus.  Yet, “when they heard ‘resurrection of dead ones’, they scoffed”.  The phrasing for the singular resurrection of Jesus “out of” the dead ones was combined in the minds of these Greeks with ‘he will judge the world’.  How will this man, Jesus, “judge the world” that has been long dead for thousands of years in many cases, “from the beginning” when all things were made until this “fixed day”?  If this man is going to judge the world – the inhabitants of the world (Greek) – then it follows by strong logic that he has to raise them: there will be a resurrection of the dead (plural).  The resurrection of the dead occurs on the “day” when this man, Christ Jesus, who is now risen from the dead (the dead were not risen when Paul preached this) will judge them.  He cannot judge “the nations” that have come “from one man” thousands of years ago (who are well dead) unless he raises them so that they will “stand in judgment”.  These Greeks got the message.  They scoffed at such an idea.  It was entirely foreign to them.

Now, what would such a ‘resurrection of dead ones’ look like?  “[A]nd he has provided confirmation for all by raising him from the dead.”  Confirmation of what?  Resurrection and judgment.  For who?  “All.”  Now, if Jesus is described here as a human being who died, was buried and is now alive, risen from the dead, who will judge the world (the inhabitants of the world) from Adam onward, then “the dead” who are to be raised must be the same inhabitants of the world from the beginning until then.  The “dead” are not “raised” until the “fixed day”.  They are not “raised” in any piece meal fashion.  They are not “raised” when they happen to expire.  They are raised on the day when they are judged; all of them at once.  What started with “one man” ends with the Judgment of One Man.  This “one man” was created on a day.  This other One Man will raise all that came from him on a day.  The last day.

Such is Paul’s Eschatology in a nutshell.  It does not include 70 AD.  It nowhere even hints at the coming catastrophe of wars (66-70 AD; 115 AD; 135 AD) to befall the Jewish people.  It does not mention anything at all but the fact that there is coming a day in which a human being who has been raised from the dead and is still very much alive in his risen-from-the-dead-state will judge all mankind at once.

John 11.25-26

By Samuel M. Frost, Th.M.

John 11.25-26 reads as follows: Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and I am the life. The one who is believing in me, though he die, he will live again. Everyone who is living and believing in me shall never die in the age. Are you believing this?”


First off, we need to look at the grammatical aspects (syntax). The first sentence is emphatic, “I” used with the predicate “I am” in the Present Indicative. The articles (“the”) equally place emphasis on what Jesus is saying he “is”. He is “the resurrection” and he is “the life.” John’s Gospel places great stress on “life” in his Gospel. Jesus is not “just” spiritual life, or physical life, or the life of God’s creation. He is all of those. He is the “source” of all life, whether it be a bird flying in the noon wind, or a leaflet sprouting anew. This is an astounding statement and claim. It is exhaustive of all that these terms mean. Jesus is the author of life and as such, gives life.

The second sentence is what we call a ‘conditional clause.’ The first verb is a participle in the Present Active form. A participle is a verbal adjective describing a subject. In this case, a believer. The person who is believing. The “time” of the participle is determined by the context, not the form. It is plain that Jesus is speaking of those who are currently believing, or whoever, past, present or future, can be described as a “believing one”. “In me” is the object in who this action of believing is directed. Everyone believes in something or someone, but not everyone believes in Jesus.

The conditional part starts (Protasis) with “though he die”.  Here the Subjunctive Mood is used in the Aorist form.  The Greek has kan, which is a combination of the conjunction, kai, and ean (if, though, when, even if, even though).  The condition is that even if a person dies (as a matter of fact), they will live again.  The final (Apodosis) part is Future Indicative.  This is a typical form of a condition stated with a future result.  The person that believes in Jesus, though he will die indeed, will certainly live again.  The verb “live” or “live again” is implied by the Protasis which states that he or she will die.  Another more modern way of saying this is, “in spite of the fact that you will die, you will live again afterwards.”  In the manner that a person “dies” (which is, in this case, actual death) will be the manner in which a person “will live” (will be raised from the death they died).  It makes no sense to interpret “die” as physical death, but the Future “will live” as current spiritual life.

Broadening the range of those who are believing, John wrote “whosoever lives” or all who live, anyone who is a living one.  This is the Present participle form we have already seen above for the one who believes.  Added to this by the conjunction, kai, is the same form above for a “believing one”.  Whoever is a living being and is a believing one at that shall not ever die, or shall never die.  The Greek here is a strong double-negative, hence the translation “never”.  It is emphatic.  To conclude, Jesus asks in essence whether or not Martha is a believing one.  “Do you believe this?”  “Are you a believer in what I am saying to you?”

With syntax, we may also note the placement of the words in the written text.  “Believing” (the verb is, pisteuo) occurs in two forms.  The first is in the participle form which is used twice.  The second is in the Present Active Indicative used once at the end, “do you believe?”  We may infer from this that John’s emphasis is on belief, or in what (or who) one believes.  In fact, the condition of living again and never dying is based in what (or who) a person believes.  It’s important to get that right!

Also to be noted is that we see what is called a Chiasm.  Spotting this may help in defining what Jesus means by these words.  The chiastic structure is formed by placing “believing” and “living again” in the first part followed by “living and believing”.  Thus, “believing” (A) and “living again” (B); “living” (B`) and “believing” (A`).  ABB`A`.  This is a classic and often used literary unit.  There is also “die” (A) and “never die” (A`). 

The second part of dissecting any given passage in the Scriptures (or in any literary work for that matter) is to note the context.  In this passage, the context is the death of Lazarus, the despair of Martha, and the proclamation of Jesus in light of this.  Lazarus was a true believer in Jesus, as was Martha.  Martha expresses her faith in saying, “I know he will live again in the resurrection in the last day”.  This is an extraordinary phrasing on John’s part.  “I know he will live again (anistemi in the Future Indicative, literally, stand again) in the resurrection (anastasis) in the last day.”  Jesus then says, “I am the Anastasis.”  That there is to be “the resurrection” in the last day is made plain in John 6.39-ff, where Jesus states that all shall be raised.  The same participlian form “the one who believes” (6.40) is promised to be resurrected “in the last day”.  Martha is affirming what she heard the Master already teach.  Since Lazarus was dead, he would stand again in the resurrection in the last day because he believed when he was living.

The context, then, should inform us as to the meaning of these words before us.  Jesus, in fact, said to Martha, “Your brother will rise again” (11.23).  These were words of comfort.  When informed that Lazarus was ill, Jesus replied, “this illness is not for the purpose of death (pros thanaton), but for the glory of God” (11.4).  Later, Jesus realized that Lazarus had “fallen asleep” (11.11), a euphemism for the recline of the dead body, or “laying to rest” of the body.  “Lazarus is dead” (where the verb, apothnesko is used).  We can be informed from the context, then, that “die” in the phrase “though he die” means actual death.

When Jesus said he is The Resurrection and the The Life and that the death of Lazarus was not for death (though death happened), but for the glory of God, the raising of Lazarus from the dead is meant to illustrate the power of Jesus to the glory of his father.  Jesus had not yet died, either, but yet had power to raise the dead.  In the exchange with Martha, however, it is “the resurrection in the last day” that comes into focus.  The resurrection of Lazarus, which was now to occur, was not “the last day”.  “All” that are given to the Son shall be raised on that day (6.39).  Lazarus’ resurrection, then, is meant to illustrate something else.  We may also note that Lazarus had been dead for four days (11.17).  He was not “raised” in his final or last day (some think the resurrection occurs when a person dies and their soul goes to heaven.  But, that is not what resurrection means).  Lazarus will be raised with the “all” who are given to the Son “in the last day”, and clearly, the day that Jesus raised him was not that day.  Martha affirmed such.  Jesus acknowledges her faith (belief) and proclaims to her, “I am the resurrection, Martha.”

We are now prepared for the final analysis of our passage.  Speaking to Martha, Jesus said, ‘those who believe me in, that is, believe in me before they die (like Lazarus here before us), even though they die, will live again.  Whoever is now living and believes in me before they die, they, when raised again, shall not ever die, ever.  Do you believe in this, Martha?’  We know the answer.

Believing must occur before a person dies.  It is no contention that “though he dies” means actual death.  The Future Indicative “he will live” refers to the anastasis (stand again) which will happen “in the last day.”  This is made plain in the chiasm that “will live again” (Future) is followed by the Present participle, “the one who is living”.  The Present participle  for those who now believe is the same application to those presently alive before they die.  “The one who lives” is contrasted with “though he die”.  Right now, as living ones, be also believing ones and if you are believing ones, though you will die (and not be “living” any more), you will be raised and live again and you will never die again.  Unlike Lazarus who, even though raised from the dead, died again later on (and this is the point), there is coming the time, the last day, when I will raise up those who believed in me before they died, and these shall not ever die again.  If you believe in Jesus, you believe in the Resurrection, the One who will raise the dead unto immortal life, eternal life.  When asked if Martha believed this, she answers, “Yes, Lord!  I have believed and still do (Perfect Indicative of pisteuo) that you are Messiah, the Son of God, the Coming One who comes (Present participle) in the world.”

The contrast in this passage is on those “living” (“the living”) and the fact that Lazarus is not living.  “Lazarus is dead.”  Yet, because we know that Lazarus was a “believer” he is promised to be raised “in the last day” together with “all those who believe in me.”  Martha affirms this doctrine.  This affirmation – her faith in the Messiah, the Coming One (who has come and is before her) – is displayed in what she knows Jesus will do (raise the dead in the last day).  Since she is utterly convinced that He is the One who will do this in the last day, then he can demonstrate even raising Lazarus from the dead, even though such a miracle is temporary, for Lazarus will die again.  “Even now (nun) I know that God will give you whatever you ask” (11.22).  Before the time of the last day when the dead are raised, even now – before that time – Jesus can raise Lazarus so that they may be with him among “the living” for a little more time.  More or less, Martha is saying, “I know that he will be raised to immortality in the last day, but can I see him again right now, because I know who you are, and what you can do, and what you will do on the last day.”  Martha’s faith is wondrous.

John has given us a glimpse of what resurrection is.  “Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice” (5.28).  When? “In the last day” (6.39-ff).  Thus, before that hour comes, the “living and believing”, those who not just live their lives until death, but who live their lives believing in Him, will also die.  But, they will be raised immortal.  If “living” means bodily life in the here and now, then bodily life is what is to be expected when finally raised to life immortal.

 

The Mueller Report: The First 100 Pages.

By Samuel M. Frost, Th. M.


The Mueller Report: The First 100 Pages.


“…the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

“ We applied the term coordination in that sense when stating in the report that the investigation did not establish that the Trump Campaign coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

“The investigation did not identify evidence that any U.S. persons conspired or coordinated with the IRA” (Definition: “The IRA was based in St. Petersburg, Russia, and received funding from Russian oligarch Yevgeniy Prigozhin and companies he controlled. “).

“In March 2016, the GRU began hacking the email accounts of Clinton Campaign volunteers and employees, including campaign chairman John Podesta. In April 2016, the GRU hacked into the computer networks of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The GRU stole hundreds of thousands of documents from the compromised email accounts and networks. “  One wonders why, then, we do not allow – BY LAW – emails sent over unverified servers.  It’s simple: vulnerability of sensitive materials.  Duh.

They did find that the Trump Campaign was interested in the emails hacked by IRA and produced by WikiLeaks.  Again, another “duh” moment.  Every Campaign since Campaigns have been Campaigns have “looked for dirt”.  No crime there, just politics.  Second, the Wikileaks Documents came as a result – not from Julian Assange, but from Bradley Manning – now Chelsea Manning – a disgraced Army Intelligence Analyst.  Newsweek recently reported, “In the court filings, the U.S. alleges that intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning helped Assange through the process of attempting to breach the government’s database—even providing him a partial password—but Assange appeared to still get stumped” (Newsweek.com.  4-11-19).   Now, get this, President Obama commuted the sentence of Manning. “President Obama has commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning, the Army private serving a 35-year sentence for leaking classified military secrets to Wikileaks, the White House said Tuesday” (USA Today.com.  January 17, 2017).

But, after reading more, the conclusion finally comes: “The Office investigated whether those contacts reflected or resulted in the Campaign conspiring or coordinating with Russia in its election-interference activities. Although the investigation established that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome, and that the Campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, the investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”  Yup.

“Among other things, the evidence was not sufficient to charge any Campaign official as an unregistered agent of the Russian government or other Russian principal. And our evidence about the June 9, 2016 meeting and WikiLeaks’s releases of hacked materials was not sufficient to charge a criminal campaign-finance violation.”  Not Sufficient.  If you were investigated and the result of the Agency’s conclusions were “not sufficient” and yet, your opponents still wanted further investigations – still wanted in the air the idea that you are guilty – we just can’t prove it – wouldn’t you be a little….pissed?  I would.  And, you, the reader, would be, too.

Keep in mind while reading this:During its investigation the Office issued more than 2,800 subpoenas under the auspices of a grand jury sitting in the District of Columbia; executed nearly 500 search-and-seizure warrants; obtained more than 230 orders for communications records under 18 U.S.C. § 2703(d); obtained almost 50 orders authorizing use of pen registers; made 13 requests to foreign governments pursuant to Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties; and interviewed approximately 500 witnesses, including almost 80 before a grand jury.”  That’s a load of resources on an investigation.  And – after all of this – found no sufficient evidence to convict or pursue.  Let that sink in.

After these first sections of Volume 1, the material becomes blacked out (redacted – a term I learned in Seminary concerning what Bible Scholars refer to as Bible Editing.  Bible Editing is the idea that some hokey Jewish Scribes slapped together materials to pass off what we now call the Bible – thinking that no one would notice until the brilliance of Enlightenment Scholars’ “discoveries”).  A lot of this Section is focused on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like.  So, yes, since the Internet is, well, the Internet (it’s an open forum, silly), anyone can start a false account and “campaign” for their favorite subject and dole out misinformation on the subjects they hate.  It’s called, Facebook.  But, being an historian, it’s called, “Society and Culture”.  Read Proverbs.  Nothing new here.  And, it will not stop –unless the Government gets involved and begins to pass Bills that limit what you can and can’t say on the Internet…or in your neighborhood…or your home, or Church, or local meeting of the “We Hate American Capitalism Socialism Now Club”.  At the bottom of this, for me, is that the American people, by and large, are easily duped – at least that’s the fear and impression I get from certain sectors of our beloved Rulers.  And, I believe, to some extent, that is true.  People do not read anymore.  They “see” five minute segments on You Tube, hear drive by excerpts on the TV (sound bites), read loaded Headlines (instead of the actual article in full).  Second, they do not read any responses from “the other side”.  My professors taught me –hammered in me – that if I were to ever study Atheism in order to refute Atheism, then I must absorb Atheist works and sound like a convinced Atheist – empathizing with their arguments.  So, I started reading Lucretius, Voltaire, Nielsen, Dawkins, Sagan, Hitchens, Russell and the like.  Good stuff…if you like Atheism (Voltaire’s actual name was  Francois Marie Arouet – and yes, he was an atheist).

After reading through yet more pages what emerges from between the blacked out content is that IRA organizers attempted to dupe the public through a variety of means.  I have no need to write further on this than to say this: do not believe everything you see and hear and read.  Investigate, research and investigate and research again what you have investigated and researched,  And, when you are done with that, investigate it further.  The Mueller Report did just that.  It’s 400 pages long. 

Now, I stopped reading on page 95, where Carter Page is entered with lettered points and numbered sub points.  I stopped there and will continue tomorrow.

Response to Preston’s New You Tube Series

By Samuel M. Frost, Th.M.

The first five minutes of this new series of Preston’s on yours truly – on my book, The Parousia of the Son of Man – is a downright vicious attack.  Basically, according to Preston, I am not just a liar, but am a bald face liar.  I say things that I know are not true and say them anyway.  That’s the definition of a liar.  Preston spends almost five minutes in the opening of this new series basically telling his devoted followers (who take every word of his as Gospel) that I am a con, a cheat, a liar, and that I abuse every known tool of exegesis and research.  Folks, this is called “poisoning the well” before one even begins to get into the actual material.  It is deceptive.  But, then again, so is Full Preterism.

Now, Preston does actually quote a line from the book, page 3, wherein I wrote, “It is a bodily presence, an arrival of somebody that is present and accounted for”.  And, Preston admits that this is a meaning of the term (he cannot escape that).  In fact, at the 4.11 mark in the video he states that if this is the meaning of the term, then I “might have a case”.  Interesting.  Let that sink in.

Preston then goes into creating a smokescreen by “quoting” from several works of scholars (Colin Brown, Deismann, Kittel’s Dictionary, Dunn).  What I never tire of pointing out is that none of these scholars would come close to affirming Full Preterism as Preston defines it!  Preston goes on to say that “presence” is used of God – who is without a body – by Josephus (Antiquities) – giving the impression that I do not source Josephus (I do, page 9).  However, I only quote where that first century historian used the term in reference to actual people.  Preston’s point – what he wants his devotees to “get” – is that I am being misleading.  I’m not.  I, too, have the sources (and have read them) that he quotes.  Josephus does indeed use the term “parousia” for God’s “manifestation.”  God is without a body.  Therefore, so Preston’s presupposition wants you to think, Jesus’ parousia in 70 AD is invisible.  Preston, however, fails to note that the use of parousia for God’s presence highlights my point. 

God is omnipresent – everywhere always at all times.  This presence of Him is sometimes visibly manifested – noting the fact of His presence (which always is).  When we speak of God “coming down” or “going up” we scholars know – and even have invented a term – that this is speaking anthropomorphically – speaking of God – who has no shape, no form, no eyes, and is not an old man “up there” in heaven.  Now, Preston knows all of this (or he should).  Thus, when Paul speaks of Jesus as being “in the form (morphe in Greek) of God” – every NT scholar notes the meaning of the word morphe cannot mean that God has a form in terms of a shape.  The other meaning of morphe is nature, essence – and hence, Paul’s assertion is that the Son – the Divine Logos – is of the essence of God prior to his becoming human schema (Philippians 2.7).  Now, this word, schema, speak of the actual outer form of the man, Christ Jesus.  Schema is not used of God – who has no schema.  Keep this in mind because it is devastating to Preston’s admission.

Preston also states that I nowhere include references or mention that parousia is used for “gods” and “dignitaries” – which is simply false (or he did not read the fine print).  On page 8 I wrote, “Many other examples can be shown designating the arrival of a King, dignitary, a god, and such.  The point of this part of the study is to demonstrate that parousia and its verbal cognate pareimi are in reference to an advent of a person, or that a person is now present (wherever they are).”  Preston merely takes one slice of a several page study on the word, parousia, and that is all.  Deceptive.

Now, Preston’s view admits that Jesus returned in 70 AD, that is, the son of man came on the clouds of judgment to Jerusalem in 70 AD.  However, Preston does not believe Jesus ascended as a son of man in heaven.  Jesus, upon his ascension, “divested and destroyed” his schema  as a man!  He is no longer a man as we think of being a man.  Rather, the Logos is God who “retains the memory of” of once being a man when he was a man “in the days of his flesh.”  So, I ask (and have asked), if Jesus is no longer a man – a son of man – then how can the son of man appear in 70 AD without being a full man?  One of those “duh” moments.

Hopefully, Preston, in this series, will actually deal with the material in the book, which is having great success by the accounts I receive.  Preston says this book is a “response to Full Preterism” – it’s not.  I never mention any Full Preterist arguments, never quote a Full Preterist, nor had any intention of defeating Full Preterism in terms of writing this book.  It’s a study based on Lexical entries, semantics, and the usage of the term and idea concerning the parousia of the son of man.

Aside from Preston’s admitting that parousia is used of God’s specific manifestation of His Omnipresence – did anyone in the examples of Josephus, flee?  Did God manifest himself to Moses and the 70 elders?  When God showed up to Elijah, did Elijah flee?  If Jesus was going to appear “in the glory of his Father” (Preston’s strange twist on what that meant), why would Jesus tell them to flee where he was to appear?  In fact, Paul spoke of Jesus’ parousia in terms of believers being right there when he descends!  Was Paul telling the Thessalonians to flee?  If Jesus appeared in Jerusalem invisibly, locally, in terms of a manifestation (phanoo – Greek) in 70 AD, then when did he descend and appear to the Thessalonians located hundreds of miles in Asia Minor?

I greatly look forward to Preston’s new series about my book, which can be found here

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.

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 yet is also “coming down out of (ek) heaven” to a new earth (since the previous earth is described as no more).  The participle (“coming down”) is not a time indicator, but a stress on the continuous action describing the New Jerusalem.

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.  It is in this visual aspect that the New Jerusalem is described as “coming down” in the waters and in its healing power whose source is the City itself which is “in heaven”.  Ultimately the whole city comes down.

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 upon death.  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 (“faithful unto death”), they are promised entrance into the New Jerusalem above.  To enter the City in the afterlife means that one is drinking from the waters that flow down and out of the City in heaven to earth.  One is washing themselves in the blood of the Lamb down here so that upon death they “enter the gates” up there.

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 worshipers (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 worshiping 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 worshipers (the souls of the righteous dead, those fallen asleep in faith, the martyrs), 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.