Search This Blog

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Refuting Robert Pike's God's Promise of Redemption

Refuting Robert Pike’s God’s Promise of Redemption
In this article, we shall be reviewing and refuting D. Robert Pike’s God’s Promise of Redemption. Pike is a full preterist and believer of universal reconciliation. In his Promise of Redemption book he first gives testimony of his former life he lived as a Jehovah Witness and shares how his journey out of that and into Dispensationalism Premillennialism led him ultimately into Full Preterism or Fulfilled Eschatology. This is not shocking in the least that someone who was in a cult would leave it just to be led into a heresy like dispensationalism and then get led into another heresy like Full Preterism. When your foundations are off from the beginning you are always going to be on shaky grounds until you fix your foundations which during this review and refutation it will be clear he has not done so.

He, from the beginning, argues that Christ came back in AD70. It is clear he is a full preterist and that he has the 2nd Coming taking place in 70AD[1]. He goes on a long tale about his days as a Jehovah Witness youth and being scared to death of God as a child because of all the apocalyptic things his mother would say to him. I absolutely sympathize with him for all that as that cult is evil and satanic. That cult teaches a false Christ and many more heresies within it and its false teachers and anyone who gets out of it I can only say God bless them and hope they come to the true faith of Christianity that is most certainly NOT Jehovah Witness’ nonsense. He speaks about how they claimed Jesus would return in 1975 and that he did not come as they said they would and then later on he would learn that they had given more failed predictions. He was also taught that Jesus was merely a man and this too is grave error. The poor man left the Jehovah Witness cult when he was in his early 30s and even claims he still feels the effects today. It is obvious as well when we learn that he was a Dispensationalist.[2]

I am glad to note that for all his mistakes, Pike does seem to believe Christ is at least Deity and God, the Son as far as I am aware[3]. Unfortunately however, as we will show, it doesn’t seem to occur to Pike that his upbringing has led him still influenced and down the wrong path. Just as the Jehovah Witness distort the Bible with their New World Translations and fake lexicons and pseudo-scholarship with the Greek language, Pike finds himself doing this all too often. Given his history, it is not all too surprising that Pike would become a full preterist. He just can’t seem to, on his journey, escape heresy.

To start off, Pike claims that in Genesis 2:15 that “God was not speaking of physical death here. He was speaking of spiritual death. They died in the sense of being separated from God, and they knew it”.[4] From the beginning, Pike is making false claims already.

In Genesis 2:17, God tells Adam about the tree of knowledge of good and evil that “in the day you eat from it you shall surely become mortal.” Did Adam die physically the moment he ate from the tree? Is the bible in error since Adam it says died physically 930 years later? Should this be seen as spiritual death instead? No. It should probably be seen as both. Adam and Eve had eternal life being in full communion with God. They were in a state of theosis. Through the Fall, they both lost and broke off communion, so spiritually they did die in that sense, which led to their physical death as they became mortal. The moment they were sinning was the moment they both physically began the process of dying biologically - becoming mortal - and then, ultimately, did biologically die. The phrase “you shall surely die” if translated from Hebrew literally would read as “dying you shall die” or “you shall die dying” and “you shall become mortal” seems to fit the best. Either way it uses the imperfect form of the Hebrew verb for “you shall die” with the infinitive absolute form of the same verb “dying”. You can find it too that it is the case because in the New Testament, St. Paul does not bring any other indication in Romans or 1 Corinthians that Adam’s death is anything more than biological death. Digging deeper into it however we know that there is obviously a spiritual death of sorts and we do know this because they broke off communion and theosis with God in their sinful acts against Him. One can look at Numbers 26:65 where it is used in the same fashion as Genesis 2:17. 

Larchet notes: “In Paradise, as we have seen, Adam was united to God with his whole being. Transparent to God’s energies, he was radiant with grace in both soul and body… Ceasing to fulfill God’s will and turning aside from him, by his own fault he lost the grace he had been receiving and the good things associated with it. The Fathers call this ‘the ancestral sin’ – a sin that was to have a decisive influence on the history of humanity, and whose nature, significance, and consequences enable us to understand much of our present situation, in particular, the condition of the body as it is today… In this sin, the principle role was played by Adam’s spirit… [In the] personal sin of Adam all of his soul’s faculties played a part: his memory no longer remembered God, his imagination imagined that which was evil, his appetitive or desiring power coveted false goods, and his irascible power began to struggle to obtain and hold on to them, whilst opposing and resisting God’s will… Adam turned away from God, and as a result, of his own free will, he deprived himself of God’s grace, and so he found himself to be deprived also of the blessings he owed to that grace. Consequently (since evil results from the privation of good), he introduced into himself, into the world, and into all his descendants ‘a like number of opposite evils’. In the first instance, these evils affected the soul, which became passible, experienced sorrow and suffering, became corrupt, and died a spiritual death through being separated from God and deprived of divine life. They then spread to the body where they manifested themselves in the most sensible manner. From then on, the body became subject to suffering, sickness, corruption, and eventually death”.[5]

Another thing to note: He never fully confirms this but it can be assumed that Pike, since he does quote Preston and others like him, believes Adam and Eve were already mortal beings, which is false as they were in fact immortal pre-Fall. Of the more modern translation scholars, we have Robert Alter, who translates Genesis 2:16-17 as “From every fruit of the garden you may surely eat. But from the tree of knowledge, good and evil, you shall not eat, for on the day you eat from it, you are doomed to die”. Altar says of vv. 16-17: ‘surely eat…doomed to die’. The form of the Hebrew in both instances is what grammarians call the infinitive absolute: the infinitive immediately followed by a conjugated form of the same verb. The general effect of this repetition is to add emphasis on the verb, but because in the case of the verb ‘to die’ it is the pattern regularly used in the Bible for the issuing of death sentences, ‘doomed to die’ is an appropriate equivalent”[6]. The sentence of death is immediate but the sentence is that Adam is “doomed to die” or “become mortal and die”. It’s really quite simple.

We have a plethora of rabbinical writers, not just Christians, who have commentaries on Genesis 2:16-17. Here are four:

In the commentary of Sforno - Rabbi Obadiah ben Jacob Sforno (1475-1550) on 2:17, he states: “the tree in the middle of the garden, in close proximity to the tree of life mentioned previously (v. 9). The meaning of ‘life’ is in connection with that tree is equivalent to the meaning of the words in Deuteronomy 30:19 ‘I have placed life and death (to choose) before you’ [we may understand this to mean that the tree of life, if its fruit were eaten, would result in life of infinite duration, whereas eating from the tree next to it would result in life being shortened (being made mortal)[7].

In Rabbi Jacob ben Asher (1269-1343)’s commentary the Tur Ha Aroch, he states: “’For on the day you eat from it you will surely become mortal’: This is not a warning of immediate death (as it would have been equivalent to the dying out of the human species) but a warning not to forfeit eternal life on earth… The belief in the mortality (eventual metamorphosis [he means the belief that Adam would die even had he not eaten the fruit]) of all phenomena which consist of more than one raw material, is held only by people who lack in true faith and believe the existence of the universe is not due to God’s free will, but was the result of an immutable law of nature, long preceding the existence of any God. For true believers who know in their deepest heart the universe is the result of the will of a totally free Creator, the continued existence of anything this Creator has initiated, does not pose a problem. The only thing that would put an end to the absolute life expectancy of man was the fact that he violated the commandment and ignored the warning of what would follow”[8].

In Scholar and Rabbi Nachmanides’ Ramban Commentary (1194-1270) he states: “’For on the day you eat from it you will certainly die’. That is, you will have incurred the death penalty, not that you will die immediately. A similar usage appears in 1 Melachim 2:42. According to the Sages… if Adam had not sinned he would have indeed been immortal, for the soul is capable of sustaining the body forever and this is what the Creator originally intended”[9].

Finally, Rabbi Hezekiah ben Manoah’s commentary (1210-1310) the Chizkuni states: “’for on the day you would eat from it you would surely become mortal’. Man had not been created as a mortal body, but after having sinned he was punished by becoming mortal. God’s warning did not mean he would die immediately. He only had warned him he would his entitlement to infinite life. At some time in the future he would not be able to escape the need to die. This is why he had to be separated from proximity to the tree of life, so that he would not be able to regain the immortality he had now lost”[10].

In the end, there is no case to be made for this argument that it was just spiritual death. It is blatantly dishonest to the core, to be frank, as it is nothing more than the failed attempt to push a false narrative to boost the eschatological agenda named full preterism.

Another question to ask. If they were already mortal and would die, does that mean they experience pain already pre-Fall? If so, why does God punish and sentence them with “spiritual death” and then for some reason He sentences the woman with “I will greatly multiply your pain and your groaning, and in pain you shall bring forth children” (Gen. 3:16)? Why is a spiritual judgment of death bringing something physical that they already apparently are supposed to be experiencing since they’re mortals? Does this make any sense? Is the ground the same today as it was Pre-Fall? The question arises as to why God would bother cursing the ground if the creation was subject to bondage to corruption as it’s always been. Is the ground spiritually subjected to bondage since Paul says in Romans 8:21 that it is to be freed from bondage to corruption? What is the curse on the ground supposed to mean if this is all spiritual? Why does God give Adam toil if he already would have had toil to deal with? Something just is not adding up here obviously and as has been clearly shown, the traditional views stand up to the test and Pike does not.

He quotes Luke 17:20-21 out of context[11] to try and make it out to be all spiritual but this chapter and verse are pretty clear that it’s saying that there will be no announcements or ambassadors to show when Christ’s arrival will be. He's just going to come in the 2nd Coming and won't need an earthly Roman Army or etc. to come as His entourage. Pike foolishly misinterprets Isaiah 65:20’s poetic mention of the New Covenant with its words on 100 year old infants[12]. Probably because of his dispensationalist background, Pike doesn’t grasp literary context. Isaiah is preaching a message to the people of Israel and is telling them what a great thing the heavens and new earth will be when this event takes place. He is being poetic here in the literary context. Isaiah is relaying to the Israeli people that the New Heavens and New Earth will be great for the saints when it is brought into the fullness promised at the 2nd Coming, like a river of life. Isaiah uses human terms that they experience in his day and we still do today to explain how great the New Heavens and New Earth will be. Isaiah is preaching, not just writing this message down. His people see babies die every day in their world and time. There are many tears from the sufferings of illness and death in his world, as well as ours today. What he's saying is in the new heavens and new earth it will be like babies are still babies even after 100 years. You have never seen a hundred year old baby have you? He's clearly using literary devices with his prophecy here to speak of the greatness of the new heavens and new earth to come. Is 65:18-20 is in relation to hope as from verse 1-17 the people have no hope as they are not seeking God even though He made Himself available to save them. Verse 18-20 is a promise of what is to come not of what is now. His usage of poetic language in his prophecy is to convey a real event that he prophesies will take place, not just some beautiful literature to express the glory of heaven.

Pike takes Eusebius out of context.[13] It’s clear that Eusebius saw the 2nd Coming as future event as well as the Resurrection of the dead as he signed the Nicene Creed in the Nicene Council. Simple as that. He saw AD70 as a judgment but that was all he saw it as. He did not see it as the 2nd Coming. You can find this attested to by numerous Church Fathers as well like St. Jerome and St. John Chrysostom to name a few. He speaks on Daniel but many in Jesus’ own time saw it to be fulfilled already, mostly through Antiochus IV’s reign and persecution on the Jews and the Maccabean Revolt, but the New Testament writers as they are oft to do, repurpose the Old Testament sometimes even in scriptures they would have found to be fulfilled, [Isaiah 7 for example is done in this manner] in order to show that Christ is the truest fulfillment of it.

Pike decides to redefine death into merely spiritual death just as he did with Genesis 2:17 later in this book and claims that “sin still does exist. Those who claim that someday sin will be abolished do not understand the nature of the redemption. As such, it is very doubtful they understand the nature of death. Jesus repeatedly [he asserts] told his disciples if they trusted him, they would not die at all! …Does this mean they would never leave their physical bodies? Of course not! But it does mean they would immediately be in the presence of the Lord”.[14] To prove his point and deny the resurrection of the dead, he quotes Phil. 3:20-21 taking it entirely out of context. He then foolishly claims yet again that Genesis 2:17 “was spiritual death”[15] and claims John 11:25-26 “makes it crystal clear that when Jesus said everyone who believes in him would never die, he was not speaking of the physical death of the body. Physical death for the believer is just a step into the life Jesus promised to those who have been redeemed”[16]. However, 1 Cor. 15 makes it absolutely clear that the biologically dead will literally rise from literal graves at the 2nd Coming.

Let us get this out of the way first. Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 is dealing with and correcting a heresy that has been spread in the Church of Corinth. Some were claiming that there was no resurrection of the dead. “It would appear that some among them were saying that there was no final resurrection of the dead (see v.12). They were not denying, of course, that Christ had been raised – only that we were destined to be raised as well…The concept of the resurrection of the flesh was incompatible with Greek philosophical thinking and appeared to them to be both repulsive and ridiculous. Indeed, when St. Paul was debating on Mars Hill in Athens, his audience listened to his philosophy attentively right up to the point when he asserted that the dead would be raised, at which time they began to hoot derisively and to sneer (Acts 17:32). For them, the body was a hindrance to spirituality. They had a proverb: ‘The body is a tomb’. The realm of the spiritual gloried in oneness, not multiplicity; in the liberated and bodiless mind, not the enshackled existence of the senses. Having escaped from the mucky and unspiritual world of the bodily senses and attained to the pure world of the mind among the gods, they thought it perverse to suggest that one would return once more to this world of bodily existence. The Hebrew idea of the resurrection of the flesh seemed to them preposterous, unnecessary, and disastrous. It is no wonder some among them denied that it is to be a part of our salvation! In response, the apostle reminds them of the original Gospel Tradition that they have received, and how the promise of our own resurrection is a part of that. His concern is not simply to correct a mistaken idea in the name of theological precision. Rather, his concern is that their mistaken idea will have harmful consequences for their practical lives…The apostle’s concern throughout is not simply to have them maintain the correct view. It is also for them to ‘sober up’, to awaken from their moral stupor and ‘not sin’, since some are ‘ignorant of God’ (15:34). His final aim is for them to recover their moral zeal and ‘abound in the work of the Lord’ (15:58).[17] The Christians must hold fast to the message they had once been given. Otherwise, all their belief would prove to be “in vain”.

Some in Corinth were denying resurrection from biological death. This is a fact. As we have shared, St. Paul is in a very Greek community of Christians here. They have very likely been influenced by Greek philosophical thought when it comes to the doctrine of the Resurrection of the dead. Paul writes to correct them in this matter because the Greek idea at the time was completely foreign to any Hebrew thoughts on the Resurrection that one like St. Paul would have or be teaching. “[There] is the message of Resurrection in glorified but real flesh, a thought which could only frighten the Greeks who lived in the hope of a future dematerialization of the spirit”.[18] There should be no doubts that St. Paul is clearly talking about the resurrection from biological death. There definitely is not a denial of the resurrection of Christ here, as far as we can tell. There is however a resurrection of the dead, that is, the biological body of the deceased rising from the grave like Christ did, as He did rise from the grave physically.

As Florovsky notes: “’The WORD BECAME FLESH’: in this is the ultimate joy of the Christian faith. In this is the fullness of revelation. The same Incarnate Lord is both perfect God and perfect man. The full significance and the ultimate purpose of human existence is revealed and realized in and through the Incarnation. He came down from Heaven to redeem the earth, to unite man with God forever. ‘And became man’. The new age has been initiated [by the Cross and His Resurrection]… As St. Irenaeus wrote: ‘the Son of God became the Son of Man that man might also become [a] son of God’. Not only is the original fullness of human nature restored or re-established in the Incarnation. Not only does human nature return to its once lost communion with God. The Incarnation is also the new revelation, the new and further step.[19]” They likely did not deny Christ had raised from the dead. They were denying the resurrection of the physical body. Once this is corrected, Phil. 3:20-21 becomes quite clear to be about the resurrection body when one is not trying to manipulate and bend the texts to their own will to justify full preterist paradigms.

1 Corinthians 15:1-12

In 15:1-2, Paul declares to them the Gospel that he preached to them. He reminds them that he preached a message to them which they in turn received and should stand up for this message and hold fast to it and defend it, otherwise all their belief will prove to have been in vain. He summarizes the Gospel to them succinctly when he says “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over 500 brothers at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time” (v. 4-8). As Chrysostom notes on the Scriptures when it says “He was buried”: “This serves to confirm that Christ died a genuine human death and points to the Scripture once more for proof. Nowhere does Scripture mean the death of sin, when it makes mention of our Lord’s death, but only of the death of the body, and a burial and resurrection of that same body”...And this also confirms… that which is buried is doubtless a [physical] body.[20] St. Paul speaks about Christ’s physical body rising from the grave in order to show why we will raise from the grave. “The idea of the resurrection of the flesh is no afterthought. It is not an optional speculation they are free to reject or accept”.[21] Paul shows “the historical factuality of His Resurrection was proven by the great number of legal eyewitnesses…Most of those brethren remained alive until the time of writing and could even then give corroborative testimony. But that is not all. He then was seen by James… Then, after that appearance, the Lord was seen by all the apostles… and not just the Twelve… Then, last of all …Paul himself.”[22] It’s obvious that Paul is starting with Christ’s Resurrection asserting why it is a historical fact in order to show that it is a future and historical fact that those who reject the idea that the dead will raise biologically are wrong and that the dead will biologically rise from the dead. So, to put it in plain and simple terms: Paul in verses 1-11, in order to combat a heresy, begins with Christ and His death, His burial, and His Resurrection in order to show in later verses there is a biological resurrection of the dead to come in the future because Christ raised from biological death.

1 Cor. 15:12-19

“Man became mortal in the Fall, and actually dies. And the death of man becomes a cosmic catastrophe. For in the dying man, nature loses its immortal center, and itself, as it were, dies in man. Man was taken from nature, being made of the dust of the earth. But in a way he was taken out of nature, because God breathed into him the breath of life… Man is a sort of ‘microcosm’, every kind of life is combined in him, and in him only the whole world comes into contact with God. Consequently, man’s apostasy estranges the whole creation from God, devastates it, and, as it were, deprives it of God. The Fall of man shatters the cosmic harmony”.[23] “It is the body that becomes corruptible and liable to death through sin. Only the body can disintegrate. Yet it is not the body that dies, but the whole man. For man is organically composed of body and soul. Neither soul nor body separately represents man. A body without a soul is but a corpse, and a soul without a body is a ghost. Man is not a ghost sans-corpse, and corpse is not a part of man… This organic wholeness of human composition was from the very beginning strongly emphasized by all Christian teachers. That is why the separation of soul and body is the death of the man itself, the discontinuation of his existence, of wholeness, i.e., of his existence as a man. Consequently, death and the corruption of the body are a sort of fading away of the ‘image of God’ in man”.[24] “The destiny of man can be realized only in the resurrection, and in the general resurrection. But only the Resurrection of Our Lord resuscitates human nature and makes the general resurrection possible… Redemption is above all an escape from the ‘bondage of corruption’ [Rom. 8:21], the restoration of the original wholeness and stability of human nature. The fulfillment of redemption is the resurrection. It will be fulfilled when ‘the last enemy shall be abolished, death’ (1 Cor. 15:26)”.[25]

In 1 Corinthians 15:12-19, it is pretty simple. If the resurrection of the dead were not true, then Christ did not raise from the dead, the apostles are all a bunch of lying swindlers, and we are all doomed. As St. Ambrose says: “How grave an offense it is to not believe in the resurrection of the dead. If we do not rise again, Christ died in vain and did not rise again. For if He did not rise for us, he did not rise at all, because there is no reason why he should rise for himself”.[26] What is Christianity without the resurrection of both Christ and ours? Paul shows us quite clearly in verse 12 that the answer is NOTHING!

If we don’t physically raise from the dead, then Christ did not and the hymn that says “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life” are meaningless and we are a race of beings that are doomed.

“The Corinthians, though believing Christ was raised, do not believe that they will be – probably thinking they will continue in a bodiless form of heavenly existence, far from this physical world. On the contrary, says Paul, belief in Christ’s Resurrection involves belief in our own resurrection as well, for the one presupposes the other! The bodily resurrection of Christ from the tomb was not an isolated occurrence. It was the first in a series, the beginning of the final resurrection of us all. Israel expected that, at the end of the ages, God would send the Messiah, and the final resurrection of the dead would occur. Paul says God did send the Messiah, and the expected resurrection has begun! Christ’s Resurrection on the third day is the beginning of this final eschatological resurrection of the whole world. Thus, ‘if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised’, for He was but the beginning of that resurrection… It would also mean that the apostles were ‘false witnesses’ (pseudomartures)… Their whole experience of Christ would then be useless… a meaningless babble. They would be still, like everyone else, ensnared and weighed down in their sins; those who died in faith would not be in joy and felicity of the Kingdom, but rather would have been destroyed, ceasing to exist, even as the pagans said. If there hope in Christ has no relevance beyond this age, they are of all humanity more-pitiable and truly pathetic. For St. Paul, as a Jew and former Pharisee, belief in an afterlife involves belief in the final resurrection. To believe that the departed will survive and that ‘all live to God’ also involves believing that God will one day raise them up once again”[27]

“Cyril of Jerusalem: If the cross is an illusion, the resurrection is an illusion also, and ‘if Christ has not risen, we are still in our sins’. If the cross is an illusion, the ascension is too, and everything, finally becomes unsubstantial. [Catechism Lectures 13]

Chrysostom: If Christ did not rise again, neither was He slain, our sins have not been taken away. If our sins have not been taken, we are still in them, and our entire faith is meaningless. [Homily on the Corinthians 39:4]”

Chrysostom: Even if the soul remains, being infinitively immortal, without the flesh it will not receive those hidden blessings. If the body does not rise again, the soul remains uncrowned with the blessings stored up for it in heaven. In that case, we have nothing to hope for, and our rewards are limited to this life. What could be more wretched than that?” [Homily on the Corinthians 39.4]”.[28]

As if it is not obvious to the reader, “death is a catastrophe for man; this is the basic principle of the whole Christian anthropology. Man is an ‘amphibious’ being, both spiritual and corporeal, and so he was intended and created by God… The preaching of the Resurrection as well as the preaching of the Cross was foolishness and a stumbling-block to the Gentiles. The Greek mind was always rather disgusted by the body. The attitude of an average Greek in early Christian times was strongly influenced by Platonic or Orphic ideas, and it was a common opinion that the body was a kind of ‘prison’, in which the fallen soul was incarcerated and confined. The Greeks dreamt rather of a complete and final disincarnation… The Christian belief in a coming Resurrection could only confuse and frighten the Gentile mind. It meant simply that the prison will be everlasting; that the imprisonment will be renewed again and forever. The expectation of a bodily resurrection would befit rather an earthworm, suggested Celsus, and he jeered in the name of common sense. This nonsense about a future resurrection seemed to him altogether irreverent and irreligious. God would never do things so stupid, would never accomplish desires so criminal and capricious, which are inspired by an impure and fantastic love of the flesh. Celsus nicknames Christians ‘a flesh-loving crew’… Such was the general attitude to the Resurrection… St. Paul was already called a ‘babbler’ by the Athenian philosophers because he preached to them ‘Jesus and the Resurrection’ [Acts 17:18, 32]… In the current opinion of those heathen days, an almost physical disgust of the body was frequently expressed”.[29] The Greeks usually treated the body and the flesh as the source and seats of evil. This is also why, historically speaking, the Gnostic sects came about. “[Man] must forever remain composed of soul and body. And this is impossible, if there is no resurrection. For if there is no resurrection, human nature is no longer human… The resurrection is the true renewal, the transfiguration, the reformation of the whole creation. Not just a return of what has passed away, but a heightening, a fulfillment of something better and more perfect… In the resurrection, human nature will be restored not to its present, but to its normal or ‘original’ condition. Strictly speaking, it will be for the first time brought into that state, in which it ought to have been, had not sin and the Fall entered the world, but which was never realized in the past… Greek philosophy did not know and was in no way prepared to admit any passage from time into eternity… That which is happening can (could) never become everlasting. What has been born must inevitably die. Only what is unborn or unoriginated can persist… For a Greek, time was simply a lower or reduced mode of existence”.[30]            

Christ in His Incarnation is fully God and fully human being. He is in fact the God-Man. He physically rose from the grave. As we explained with verses 1-11, Paul is laying down the foundations that Christ died and rose from the grave physically. In verse 12, “If Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead”, obviously physical given the context of verses 1-11, “how do some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead”? Why would Paul randomly change right there at v. 12? How can he shift anyways when the next verses point right back to Christ’s physical resurrection when it says “if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up – if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” (1 Cor. 15:12-19). At no point does Paul shift the word death to any other meaning here. Christ physically rose from the dead in all these verses. So shall we.

1 Corinthians 15:20-28

We live in the already, not yet principle as Christians. One has to note that not a single time in 1 Corinthians 15 does Paul ever change the meaning of “death” nor does he change the meaning of “the dead”. At no point does the Greek word apethanen (15:3) does it mean anything less than referring to Christ having died a biological death. To further that point, in 15:4 Paul uses the word etaphe to show us that Christ was literally given a burial. Obviously, we put the deceased into graves and give them a burial. Then, to make matters worse, Paul uses the word egegertai which means “risen” or “rose” to show us Christ literally rose from the grave, hence He rose from biological death. He uses this word in 15:4, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, and 20 to cement the point to the readers. Nekron, a word for “the dead” is also used the same way throughout 1 Corinthians 15 and in many of the same sentences we just had egegertai in verses 12, 13, and 20 all in the same fashion. Nekron is also used in v. 21, 29, and 42 the same way. Not a single time is there any indication that Paul intends to shift focus to a “spiritual death” with this resurrection of the dead (anastasis nekron). The word “death” (thanatos) does not see a change either in v. 21, 26, nor verse 54. This is not really rocket science. Paul uses apothnēskousin once in 15:22 for the word “die” when referring to Adam but there is no shift anywhere indicated there either that this all does not refer to biological death. In 15:20, the word kekoimemenon is used in the same exact way that Matthew 27:52 uses it to refer to those who “had fallen asleep” (27:52) or those “who are asleep” (15:20), that is, those who had biologically died. Nowhere is there any spiritual death going on in 1 Corinthians 15.

“The apostles taught the resurrection of the dead, the hope of Israel in Jesus. They did not teach that all things are restored ‘spiritually’ in the here and now, but that all things shall indeed be restored through the man, Christ Jesus, who is at the right hand of the Father. The entire purpose of the exaltation of Christ in the heavenlies is to bring all things under his total dominion (Heb. 10:12-13), and to ultimately ‘destroy him who has the power of death’ (Heb. 2:14). By this destruction of death, he will have perfected or brought His children into the same glory and honor as human beings as he now has (Heb. 2:10)[31]. We live in the promises today. The already, not yet principle. “St. Ignatius of Antioch writes that ‘ignorance has been abolished, the ancient Kingdom [of the Prince of the World] has been destroyed, when God revealed Himself in the shape of man”[32]. “The New Testament speaks of the fulfillment: it has been achieved. The reconciliation has taken place, the abyss is filled up by the condescension of Him who became our Brother (It is consummated – John 19:30)”[33]. “The Christian Gospel proclaimed the breaking through of the Divine Reality into the world and the filling up of the chasm by the coming in flesh, by the death and resurrection of the Son of God[34]. “What are the characteristic features of Christianity? The innermost center and the whole substance of the Christian Good Tidings is the boundless condescension of God, the inrush of God into the world, the concrete, historical, supreme, and unique revelation of God’s infinite love, the Son of God having descended to become one of us and ascended, thus enabling us to ascend with Him… The idea prominent in the whole of the apostolic preaching is fulfillment… The promises of God are being fulfilled now, here, before our eyes. The central event in the history of the world is taking place… Here and now is the Center, the Refuge, the place of Rest, the place of Reunion with God, the entrance to the Kingdom [of God]… The decisive center of history has been attained and revealed, the fullness of times has come. All that had come before was a preparation; now is the plenitude, the fulfillment, the consummation (John 19:30).”[35] While “the world still ‘lies in wickedness’, the victory has been won already. In the final revelation of the power of God, in the Lord’s 2nd and final triumphant coming this will be wholly manifested. However, this victory – through death and resurrection – is already the backbone and substance of the message: ‘Be of good cheer: I have overcome the world’.”[36]

Why is this so important? “The Resurrection is, according to Christian belief, not only the crowning of Christ’s whole work and earthly life, it is not only the great proof, the testimony given by God, it is more than that: it is the very center and the very essence of the Christian Gospel. It is the beginning of a new life, of a new Reality, or rather the inrush, the revelation of Life Eternal. Life Eternal entered into the texture of our life and manifested itself therein and conquered death. The New Reality reveals itself as a transfiguring Power… [Christ] is not a phantasmagoria, not a vision; [He] is concrete, not an abstraction, not an idea; [He] is a higher Reality. He eats before them; He invites Thomas to touch Him; He’s recognized by the two disciples in the breaking of the bread. Not a phantom, not a ghost is speaking to them – He Himself emphasizes that. [He] is a concrete, living Person: the beloved Master. And yet a change has taken place. We breathe in these passages – even more than in other passages – even more than in other passages of the Gospel – the air of Life Eternal: of the Life that has triumphed over death, an air of enhanced Reality, mighty, earnest, and peaceful.[37] “This is the Christian promise, the Christian hope: the finality of deliverance, the final and total triumph of Life Eternal; and this promise and hope is, as we have seen, the necessary consequence, the outcome of the fact that has already taken place, of a victory that has been won already. This is the peculiar feature of the Christian message: its thorough-going hope, its certainty of the coming, the final total Transfiguration… Already now, His Presence has illuminated our outlook and begins to transfigure our life. Already now, there is a change, if we want to accept it (2 Cor. 5:17).”[38] “The reality of death is not yet abolished, but its powerlessness has been revealed. [In Christ] was a healing and renewal of human ‘nature’. [Therefore] all will rise, all will be raised and restored to the fullness of their natural being, yet transformed. From henceforth, every disembodiment is temporary… By faith – in Jesus Christ, the Mediator – one may, already now, ‘participate’ in eternity”.[39]

I think this aptly answers the question over why Christians are still dying. Christ promised to end this at the 2nd Coming. The 2nd Coming has not happened yet. We are waiting for the age to come and currently still in this evil present age. The arguments that death is just sin-death (spiritual death) and that this is the last enemy to be destroyed is ridiculous. Christ is going to come in the future to destroy death entirely. Now as to a proper interpretation for 1 Corinthians 15:20-28, “now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept” (v.20). The words “risen” and “dead” have not changed. They are the same as verses 1-19. “The firstfruits” needs to be discussed. At the harvest time, the Israelites were required to bring an offering from the 1st part of their crop (Lev. 23:10). It was a token of the whole harvest that all belonged to God. Jesus is called “firstfruits” because His resurrection and the resurrection of the saints are related to one another. “Jesus was the first to raise from the dead” (Acts 26:23), rising as our representative. His resurrection caused us to be raised spiritually (Rom. 6:4; Eph. 2:6), and at the same time guarantees we shall be raised physically. Another use of this is found in Romans 8:23.

“Clement of Rome: Let us consider, beloved, how the Lord continually proves to us that there shall be a future resurrection, of which He has rendered the Lord Jesus Christ the first-fruits.

Cyril of Alexandria: For the sake of all He tasted death. Although by nature He was life and was Himself the Resurrection, He surrendered His own body to death. By his ineffable power he trampled upon death in His own flesh that He might become the firstborn from the dead and the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep…”[40]

Verse 21 is a simple reference to Adam bringing the ancestral sin into this world and Christ, the God-Man bringing forth the resurrection of the dead to come. “St. Athanasius the Great states: For by the sacrifice of his own body he both put an end to the law which was against us and made a new beginning of life for us, by the hope of resurrection which he has given us. For since from man it was that death prevailed over man, for this cause conversely, by God’s Word and being made Man has come about the destruction of death and the resurrection of life.

St. Basil the Great states: If the sojourn of the Lord in the flesh did not happen, the Redeemer did not pay to death the price for us. He did not by his own power destroy the dominion of death. If that which is subject to death were one thing and that which was assumed by the Lord another, then death would not have ceased performing its own works, nor would the sufferings of the God-bearing flesh have been our gain. He would not have destroyed sin in the flesh. We who had died in Adam would not have been made alive in Christ.

St. John Chrysostom: The very human nature which was cast down must itself also gain the victory. For it was by this means the reproach was wiped away”.[41]

Verse 22 should be self-explanatory. “For as in Adam all die, even so, in Christ all shall be made alive”. Clearly, all shall be made alive by the Resurrection of the dead. Verse 23 simply shares with us that everyone will raise from biological death, but they will not all enjoy the same benefits. The saint is not the only one to rise. The sinners do as well rise from the dead as all will have to deal with and be confronted by Christ’s Final Judgment. Verses 24-28 clearly teach that Christ will come and “all enemies will be put under his feet” and “the last enemy to be destroyed shall be death”.

It is a matter of fact for St. Paul, “Christ has been raised from the dead! His Resurrection constitutes a kind of firstfruits of the entire eschatological harvest. Even as the first ripened crops were offered to God as a token of the whole and a pledge of the coming crops, so it is with the resurrection of the dead. That is, the resurrection of all men is present in the Resurrection of Christ, since His rising from the dead is the source for all resurrection… Adam’s fall was the fall of all of us, and in his death, we all died, for he was the source of our earthly life… By his sin, Adam experienced the taint of mortality, fallenness, sin, and death. Since all we are was derived from him, we share this inheritance, so that in Adam all die. Christ’s Resurrection is the source of our resurrection, even as Adam’s death was the source of our death. Through His Incarnation, Cross, and Resurrection, the Lord has reconciled and renewed the entire cosmos (see Col. 1:20), so that, potentially and according to the divine plan, all men are in Christ… Christ has united all of human nature to Himself through His Incarnation and brought it back to the Father. Thus His Resurrection is the source for the resurrection of all our race, so that in Christ all shall be made alive. Christ’s Resurrection…reveals the final resurrection of all has actually begun. But we do not yet see this final resurrection of all, because each must go in his own order. The term order (Gr. Taxis) has a military feel to it… Here it refers to the divisions of humanity. All will be raised up now that the final resurrection has come, but none must go out of his proper order. First comes Christ the firstfruits. After that (Gr. epeita) come those who are Christ’s, when we Christians are raised up at the 2nd Coming (see 1 Thess. 4:16-17). Then immediately after that (Gr. eita) comes the end of this age (Gr. to telos), the goal to which all has been straining, when all men will rise to stand before the Lord, some coming forth to a resurrection of life and others to a resurrection of judgement (John 5:29). Thus our Lord’s rising on the 3rd Day signals the beginning of the resurrection of all, but not all will rise at the same time. At that final resurrection at His Coming, all enmity against God will be finally overcome. In this world, all are not in submission to Him, but many have set themselves against His loving will… Christ the King has been exalted to the Father’s right hand to share His paternal authority, reigning as King. He reigns in power, wielding all the authority of the Father, vanquishing all that have set themselves against Him until they’ve been put as conquered enemies under His feet. For all the enemies of God must be abolished, and the last one to be abolished is death. For death is no friend of God, nor is it His creation. It comes as an unwelcome intruder in His world, and God sets Himself against it to destroy it. As Christ the Mediator overcomes all who oppose the will of His Father, He will at the last overcome this foe as well. This is in accordance with the old messianic prophecy in Psalm 8:7: ‘He has put all things in submission under His feet’…In saying that all things will be put in submission under Christ, St. Paul stresses that the ultimate supremacy of the Father is safeguarded… The goal of Christ’s reign is ultimately nothing other than to exalt the Father and to lovingly offer the cosmos back to Him. Christ overcomes all the enemies of God in order to restore the Father’s sovereignty, abolishing all the foes who rise up against Him and delivering up the Kingdom to God the Father. Then the Incarnate Son, who united Himself indissolubly with our nature to become the Head of our redeemed race, will lead us in bowing before the Father, Himself taking His place in submission to the One who submitted all things to Him. Thus His mediator and messianic work will be fulfilled, as God will be all in all. St. Paul’s reason for dwelling on this eschatological work of Christ is to show how His Resurrection is related to our resurrection. The Corinthians may well be thinking there is no relation between the two… On the contrary, St. Paul answers, Christ was raised in order to reign as King and overcome all obstacles to the Father’s sovereignty – including death itself. He was, in fact, raised in order to finally effect our resurrection. His Resurrection therefore has as its final goal our own rising from the dead”[42]

1 Corinthians 15:29-34

Paul “begins by showing their own internal inconsistency. If the dead are not actually raised, why are some among them baptized on their behalf? Thus he points to their own practices as evidences of how their entire orientation presupposes the final resurrection. The Apostle refers to a Corinthian practice, without thereby accepting it as legitimate. The practice of ‘proxy baptism’ for the recently departed was not a part of the apostolic Tradition and was not heard of again in the Church apart from this reference. It appears to have been a practice some invented on their own, perhaps by analogy with certain Jewish ablutions. For it is said that among the Jews there was a practice that if someone died before being purified from a ceremonial uncleanness, one of his friends might perform the purifying ablution for him and the dead man was accounted clean. Some in Corinth perhaps underwent baptism for some of their family members who had died before receiving knowledge of the Gospel, as a way of retroactively commending them to the mercy of God. Whatever the local situation in Corinth, the practice was not heard of again in the Church, though some Church Fathers mention it as being practiced by some early Gnostic sects. St. Paul’s reference to it here does not mean that he approves of it. He only uses it to show the Corinthians how all their life and practice up to now have presupposed the final resurrection”.[43] Paul clearly in 1 Corinthians 15 is talking about the biological body raising from biological death and Romans 8 discusses this briefly too when it says Romans 8:21 “the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of decay [biological decay as in biological death] into the glorious liberty of the children of God." To sum up the rest of the section, verses 1 Corinthians 15:30-34: Paul calls them to sober up and sin not and to steer clear of wicked people.

1 Corinthians 15:35-49

There is no mention of sin-death or spiritual death in 1 Corinthians 15. We have shown consistently that Paul never once shifts from talking about how the biological bodies of the deceased shall be raised from their literal graves just as Christ really did biologically rise from His grave. Literally all Paul is doing in verse 35 is getting ready to discuss the nature of the resurrection since he has just finished establishing the fact of there being most definitely, a final resurrection to take place in the future. Again, Paul is discussing the nature of the resurrection. The question is asked “How are they raised?” “And with what kind of body do they come”? The Corinthians seem to be “denying that the dead will be raised because they [seem to] entertain an overly literal conception of the resurrection. The concept of resurrection seems to involve the dead returning to life in the same form as they once lived, in all its weakness, corruptibility, and dishonor. That seems to them palpably ridiculous – will the resurrected one need to eat and defecate? Will he bruise and bleed after falling down? – and therefore they are prepared to reject the whole concept of resurrection. So it is that the apostle is concerned to dispel such overly literal ideas about the state of the age to come. He first rebukes the skeptic and senseless one for such blockheaded lack of imagination. Surely they can see even in this life that “what you yourself sow does not come-to-life unless it dies” and that “you do not sow the body which is to be, but a naked grain, perhaps of wheat” (v.36-37) or of some other seed. That is, there is, even in the things they can see, a discontinuity between the state before death and that after. Take a grain of wheat for example: Before it dies in the ground, the seed is a naked grain – single, unadorned, quite unimpressive. But what is sown is not what sprouts up to new life. What is sown in the ground is but a seed, small, apparently insignificant; what emerges from the ground after the seed dies is a large stalk of wheat, strong, beautiful as it waves in the wind, a joy to men. That is because God gives it a body just as He wanted, providentially ordering all of His creation. It is so with all of creation. Each has its own body just as all flesh is not the same flesh. Each species has its own assigned body and form of existence: men, beast, birds, and fish all have their own different ways of being and of thus manifesting the divine glory of their Creator. God gives to each of the species and forms of life on earth. Indeed, even within the heavens themselves there is variety, as star differs from star in glory, with some stars being larger and more glorious than others. Each of these heavenly bodies has been given its own unique form. Considering all these examples from creation that can be seen with their own eyes, surely…skeptics can see the form of existence in the resurrection will be different from that on earth now. With such variety even in this age, how foolish to imagine that life in the age to come must be limited to what we now experience. Even as the species are suited to their environment now, so will our future resurrection body be suited to its environment in the age to come… Thus also it will be… with the resurrection of the dead… Our bodily existence now is one of corruption, dishonor, and weakness, for these things characterize this present age. Now, in this vale of tears, all is illness and loss, weakness, failure, and futility, the humiliation of aging and death. We will end our earthly existence, being sown like seeds in the earth, in this state. But it will be otherwise in the age to come. Our bodily existence then will conform to the glory of that coming age and will be one of incorruption, glory, and power, as all these earthly things are swallowed up in the endless triumph of Christ’s Resurrection.[44]

Farley notes: “Now our body and existence is ‘soulish’. The word translated here soulish (Gr. psuchikos) means ‘that which is dominated by the soul’ (Gr. psuche) or the life of this age – hence ‘worldly, unspiritual’… That is, our present bodily existence is characterized by the world of the senses, with all its weaknesses and limitations. In the age to come, our bodily existence will be ‘spiritual’ (Gr. pneumatikos). That is, it will be characterized by the boundless energies of the divine Spirit, being freed from the present limitations of this sensual existence. This humble and earthly (Gr. psuchikos) aspect of our existence is expressed in Scripture by the declaration in Genesis 2:7 (LXX) that ‘the first man, Adam, became a living soul’ (Gr. psuche). Our whole way of life inherited from Adam, the originator of our race, is thus characterized by his limitations. He was ‘from the earth’ and was thus ‘made dust’ (Gr. choikos; see Gen. 2:7 which speaks of our being made from ‘the dust of the earth’), sharing all the humble lowliness of the earth beneath his feet. As his children in this age, we too are lowly, ‘bearing the image of the one made of dust’ and sharing the humiliations of this age. But not forever. For the ‘soulish’ will give place to the ‘spiritual’ in the age to come. Yet we must not expect the spiritual to come first – for that, we must wait. Now is the time of patient waiting. Later will come our eternal triumph. But it will come. Even as ‘the first man, Adam’, was ‘a living soul’, so Christ, the fulfillment of our human nature and ‘the last Adam’, will become ‘a life-giving spirit’. Adam merely had life; Christ is so full of life that He will give it away to all… The life we received from Adam was one of ‘soul’, one of the limitations of the sense-oriented life. The life we receive from Christ will be one of ‘spirit’, of imperishable and limitless eternity… Even as we have shared the lowliness of Adam’s life of ‘dust’, so we shall also share the glory of Christ’s life of ‘heaven’, bearing His celestial ‘image’ at the resurrection”[45].

The truth of the matter is this. We are supposed to be raised like Christ was. By God, our flesh being deified, transformed, partaking in the Divine Nature (the whole man) not just the spirit. The flesh too will be partaking in the Resurrection. Pike is clearly a misguided man who is pushing an eisegetical postmodernist liberal theology and this is illegitimate exegesis. Resurrection from physical death was the issue going on. The concept of resurrection that Pike pushes are similar to the problems many Greek philosophers and Greek religions had with the Hebrew concepts of resurrection of the dead especially those that would become the Christian faith. Christians since the beginning of Christendom have always believed the physically dead will rise from their graves at the 2nd Coming. The Didache, St. Clement of Rome, St. Ignatius of Antioch, and etc. of the Early Church Fathers all unanimously agree that the 2nd Coming is a future event along with the Resurrection of the dead. All agree the biologically dead will rise from their grave. Pike has a complete burden to prove this and will come short as he is arguing from an argument from silence and just pushing eisegesis opinion on scripture after eisegesis.

1 Corinthians 15:50-58

Spiritual death is supposedly what this is all about? Malarkey! The physical part of the Resurrection has been, from the beginning of the Church, there and taught. Furthermore, at no point in the Greek texts of 1 Corinthians 15 does Paul ever shift the meanings of death or the dead. They all refer to biological death! The Cross ended the Old Covenant as well which we will cover with Hebrews. The Old was rendered obsolete at the Cross and Christ’s Resurrection. Not AD 70. The New Covenant was there already and is here today. The saints and sinners both get resurrected. Pomanzansky states: “[The saint] will be transfigured, and first of all, the bodies of the righteous will be incorrupt and immortal, as is evident from the same words of the Apostle. They will be completely free from weakness and from the infirmities of the present life. They will be spiritual, heavenly, not having earthly, bodily needs… As for sinners, their bodies also without any doubt will rise in a new form, but while receiving an incorrupt and spiritual nature, at the same time, they will express in themselves the condition of their souls”.[46] “Man’s body did not possess ‘the impossibility of dying’ but it did possess ‘the possibility of not dying’ which it has now lost. [We] maintained [this] in Paradise by eating the fruit of the Tree of Life, of which our first ancestors were deprived after they were banished from Paradise… [It must be noted Wisdom of Solomon teaches that ‘God did not make death’ (Wis. 1:13)”[47].

Genesis 2:17 “is the answer to the question of the appearance of death in the world, and thus it is in itself an expression of the idea of immortality. The idea that man was fore-ordained to immortality, that immortality is possible, is contained in the words of Eve: [Gen. 3:3]. The same thought is expressed by the Psalmist… [Ps. 81:6-7]… The idea of immortality is present without any doubt in the Old Testament, because there exists an opinion that denies that the Jews had faith in the immortality of the soul… Concerning Enoch, Moses remarks that ‘he was not: for God took him’ – that is, he went to God without undergoing death (Gen. 5:24). From the biblical expressions concerning the deaths of Abraham (Gen. 25:8), Aaron and Moses (Deut. 32:50), ‘and he was gathered to his people’, it is illogical to understand that this means they were placed in the same grace or place, or even in the same land with their people, since each of these Old Testament righteous ones died not in the land of his ancestors but in the new territory of their resettlement (Abraham) or their wandering (Aaron and Moses). Patriarch Jacob having received news his son had been torn to pieces by beasts says: ‘I will go down into hades unto my son, mourning’ (Gen. 37:35 LXX). ‘Hades’ here clearly means… the place where the soul dwells… expressed in the Old Testament as a descent into the underworld, that is, as a joyless condition in a region where even the praise of the Lord is not heard; this is expressed in a number of passages in the book of Job and in the Psalms.. In the Old Testament…[as Christ approaches]… there is heard a hope that the souls of the righteous men will escape this joyless condition. ‘The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God and no torment will ever touch them…The righteous live forever and their reward is with the Lord’ (Wisdom of Solomon 3:2; 5:15). The hope of the future deliverance from hades of the souls of the righteous is more clearly and distinctly expressed in the words of the Psalmist: [Ps. 15:9-10; Ps. 48:16]. [Jesus] accused the Sadducees, who denied immortality. In his farewell conversation with His disciples the Lord told them that He was going to prepare a place for them so they might be where HE Himself would be (John 14:2-3). And to the thief He said: ‘Truly I tell you, today you shall be with me in Paradise’ (Luke 23:43)”[48]. “[Christ’s death] was an ‘incorrupt death’, and therefore corruption and death were overcome in it, and in it begins the resurrection. The very death of the Incarnate reveals the resurrection of human nature”.[49] “One has to distinguish most carefully between the healing of nature and the healing of the will… [In] Christ all human nature is fully and completely cured from un-wholeness and mortality. This restoration will be actualized and revealed to its full extent in the General Resurrection, the resurrection of all, both of the righteous and of the wicked. No one, so far as nature is concerned, can escape Christ’s kingly rule, can alienate himself from the invincible power of the resurrection. But the will of man cannot be cured in the same invincible manner; for the whole meaning of the healing of the will is in its free conversion. The ill of man must turn itself to God; there must be a free and spontaneous response of love and adoration. Only in freedom can men’s will be healed… Christ’s death and resurrection brings immortality and incorruption to all in the same manner, because all have the same nature as the Man Christ Jesus… The fullness of natural powers will be restored in all, and God will be all in all, indeed; but only in the saints will He be present with grace. In the wicked He will be present without grace. No grace will be bestowed upon the wicked, because the ultimate union with God requires the determination of the will.”[50] This answers how the wicked can be included in the resurrection if you’ve ever wondered that.

As for 1 Corinthians 15:50-58, in verse 50, the phrase “flesh and blood” alludes to the weakness of earthly, human existence and is an equivalent to “perishable”. Paul shows we need what is “imperishable” like Christ to enter God’s Kingdom. Flesh is not evil though. Neither is our blood. This is just a phrase that Christ and Paul both use to show our weaknesses because of our sin. Paul affirms “that mere flesh and blood – that is, human nature in its present weakness – is not able to inherit the Kingdom of God. The coming Kingdom is too solidly powerful, too overwhelmingly glorious, to be endured by us in our present state. We could not bear that ‘eternal weight of glory’ (2 Cor. 4:17), but would be crushed beneath the immensity of its power. Our present state is one of ‘corruption’ – and obviously that is incompatible with the ‘incorruption’ and imperishability of the eternal Kingdom. So we must be ‘changed’, exchanging our present bodily state for one that can bear the glory of the age to come. And this is the ‘mystery’ (musterion) (v. 51) – the culmination of human history that has been hidden for ages and has now been revealed to the Christian initiate: ‘we will all be changed’ (v. 51). Life will not go on in an endlessly, in a ceaseless cycle of morality and futility. It will all one day come to its cataclysmic conclusion, at the 2nd Coming, when this age will vanish like a dream and give place to the age to come. Those alive at the time ‘will not sleep’ or die, but will be taken alive into the Kingdom, exchanging their mortal state for an immortal one without ever seeing death (see 1 Thess. 4:17). When the Lord returns in glory, then ‘the last trumpet’ (v. 52) will be blown, announcing the invasion of God into our age and the raising of all the dead… We will be raised to our new state ‘in an instant’ (Gr: en atomo – a word meaning that which is so small as to be indivisible, lit. ‘un-cuttable’; see our English derivative ‘atom’). It shall occur ‘in the movement of an eye’ (v. 52)… We shall then leave behind forever all the corruptibility and mortality of this age, all that we have ever known of death, futility, and tears (v.54). Then the word written in Scripture, the hope of man long desired and never seen, will finally occur, as ‘death is swallowed up in victory’ (v. 55). This word is the promise of eschatological triumph alluded to in many different Old Testament passages. Paul recalls two scriptures, quoting them very loosely: In Isa. 25:8 (Hebrew), God promises He will swallow up death for all time. Hosea 13:14 (LXX) asks, ‘O death, where is your penalty? O Hades, where is your sting?’ The apostles here quotes these as expressive of the hope proclaimed throughout the Scriptures, that one day ‘death’ will be no more…Long the victorious tyrant over man, now death has been reduced to impotent harmlessness. The ‘victory’ (v. 55, 57) is now ours. Death’s ‘sting’ (v. 56) and power to harm us was in our ‘sin’, and that has been taken away by the Lamb of God. Sin’s power and grip on us was in ‘the Law’, and that has been transcended in Christ. That is, just as death used sin to harm us, so sin used the Law (see Romans 7:7-11). All of these realities – death, sin, the Law – belonged to this age and will forever be abolished in the coming resurrection… [Regarding] St. Paul’s word that ‘we will be changed’ (vv.51-52). Some have suggested this meant the apostle himself expected to be still living at the time of the 2nd Coming, since he said ‘we will be changed’ and not ‘they will be changed’. This is a misinterpretation of his meaning. It should be apparent that he is not insisting that he and all his hearers – whatever their advanced age – must still be living at the time of the 2nd Coming and would be changed. Some could die before then. He could die before then. In fact, since he had written to the Thessalonians that the 2nd Coming could not occur before the dissolution of the Roman Empire (2 Thess. 2:1-7), it seems unlikely he expected any of his hearers to be still alive at that time. He simply meant that those living then will be changed without seeing death, and, since he himself was yet alive, he classed himself with those living.”[51] Farley has this as his take on 2 Thess. 2:1-7. We take the opinion that is found in the Jerome Study Bible that “the present conflict goes on in secret, for there’s someone or something impeding the revelation of the Man of Sin. The ‘restrainer’ (neut. Katechon, masc. katechon) is a new element in the drama, of which the Thessalonians are already aware; the word appears without an object and both as a neuter and a masculine singular. The meaning is literally: ‘And now you know that which restrains, until he is revealed in his own time; for the mystery of lawlessness has already been put to work; (it operates in secret) only until he who is at present restraining gets out of the way’. Satan has a secret plan (mysterion) and the Man of Sin will have a Parousia, just as God has a secret plan (mysterion), and Christ will have a Parousia. Among the Church Fathers, the civil order of the Roman Empire was always a favorite candidate for the ‘restrainer’[52]. Note: it doesn’t have to be the Roman Empire. It can and probably is more about civil order that comes with the powers of the world being what restrains currently and foretells of a time when this will cease and one will rise up against the Christ in such a fashion as has not been seen. One way to look at it is that Rome embodies social order. If Rome or whichever Empire (or empires) fell, the Antichrist would come up from the ashes promising things like order, peace, etc. This is what Paul likely does have in mind when he’s talking of the restrainer. Rome did not truly fall until 1453 (and even that is somewhat debatable as Rome still survives in some essence through many of the broken off nations that can claim to be the 3rd Rome like Russia for example or Britain, etc.) as the Byzantine Empire. However, that is a whole topic for a whole other book.

His many quotations of notorious pseudo-scholar Don K Preston should already be a dead giveaway that he is off but I digress. Pike’s take on Matthew 24 is just like every full preterist before him. He makes Matthew 24:14 Jesus’ reference to “the whole world” to be just about the Roman world[53], which is absolutely ridiculous. Just because you can use another definition for a Greek word doesn’t mean you should do it for your translation. If I may be so bold as well, he pulls the same tactics Jehovah Witnesses do here in his redefining terms and things and words to make it fit his narrative he wants it to be for his AD70 doctrine. He does this quite clearly when he butchers the use of mello in Acts 17:31 and Acts 24:25[54]. It is supposed to be translated as “certain” to happen or “will happen”, but in typical full preterist fashion he does not want to allow that for time statements so he makes it have to be “near” to happen.

If it meant about to happen and was imminent like they claim, when did this happen? It is never recorded nor documented anywhere that this took place. The Revelation suggests along with the Gospels that the Final Judgment will be on ALL men from the beginning of humanity to the end of humanity, not just the deceased. Acts 24:15 is right before Acts 24:14 which gives the context: “But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets. I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust” (Acts 24:14-15). It’s used the same way in Acts 17:31 and Acts 24:25.

The reason translators of English do not say “about” with mello and use will or shall is because English is more exacting with the language and so someone reading it as “about to happen” could think that this is fixing to happen pretty quickly within a few days perhaps time. Frost writes on this topic: “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, [which is] often abused... 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.[55]

It is clear that Acts 24:15 clearly establishing a certainty. Paul’s hope is the resurrection of both the just and unjust. “Gentry writes that syntactically when mello appears in the future infinitive (as in Acts 24:15) it indicates certainty. We find samples of this in Josephus, classical Greek, and patristic usage. In the Arndt-Gingrich-Danker Lexicon (p. 500) we read that when mello is used with a future infinitive it ‘denotes certainty that an event will occur in the future.’ That, and nothing more. This is why all the standard translations of the Acts 24:15 do not translate mello as expressing nearness, but simply as a future fact (NIV, NASB, NKJV, NRSV, etc.). The NASB (cited above) has an excellent rendering: ‘having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. Paul’s argument in Acts 24 supports this idiomatic usage: he is on trial for his life, having been brought to court by Jews. His clever maneuver is to divide his opponents against themselves: the Pharisees believe in a resurrection of the dead; the Sadducees do not (Acts 23:6-7). Thus, Paul argues for the certainty of the resurrection (by use of this idiomatic expression) and concludes: ‘For the resurrection of the dead I am on trial before you today” (Acts 24:21). He is not on trial for declaring the resurrection near, but for declaring it at all.’ Acts 24:25 is time indicative, in that the judgement Paul awaited from Felix’.[56]

Did the resurrection happen immediately after Paul claimed it? No. Frost like most who translate the Koine Greek language rightfully show that St. Paul is not saying it will happen immediately. Mello can be translated that way in some contexts, sure, but not here in Acts 24:15. Paul is merely explaining to the governor that he expects there to be a resurrection of the dead, perhaps in his lifetime, but not a certainty on that being the case (he is sure though there shall be one to take place though) that there will be a physical, biological, raising of the dead, and this works with Acts 17:31 and Acts 24:15 as well.

Pike does not at any point of this book address Matthew 24:31 and completely disregards the elect having to be gathered. Not once does he ever explain how he is and can be a part of the elect if the elect were already elected in fullness in AD70. Pike declares the 2nd Coming to be non-literal and some spiritual coming done through the Romans to judge the Jews[57] so I suppose he doesn’t even have a real return of Christ and that he is just a ghost or spirit of some sort without a human body like Preston does. Perhaps he too has Christ divesting of His flesh suit like Preston does in his books since he seems to mirror Preston quite a bit in this book. It seems he does since he foolishly argues that “John did not expect to see the same type of body as he had seen after the resurrection [referring to Christ’s Resurrection]”[58] and clearly denies the biological dead will rise from their literal graves here as well which contradicts Paul in 1 Cor. 15 entirely. Pike has the verses in 1 and 2nd Thessalonians that are about the Resurrection of the dead which is to take place at the 2nd Coming to be about people dying and “spiritually rising” as souls from their graves to meet Christ in Heaven, which is not what that verse is talking about at all as we have shown earlier with 1 Cor. 15. I can’t 100% verify this but it is highly likely since he quotes Preston repeatedly in this book that he denies Jesus still retains His human body since Preston does as well and this seems to be absolutely confirmed when he claims that “Jesus did in fact return in that 1st Century generation… this does not mean he was literally and physically returning to earth in a human body”[59] and claims that “we have a new body awaiting us. It is a spiritual body which will conform to the body of our Lord in His glory”[60] [referring to Phil. 3:20-21 which he took out of context].

Because he seems to mirror Preston, he completely butchers 2 Peter the exact same way that Preston does and argues that Matthew 5:17-18’s reference to “heaven and earth” is merely about the Temple[61] which is absolutely ludicrous and then argues that if this were about a literal heaven and earth being done away with that we must still be under the Law of Moses (the Old Covenant) if this is literal[62] but this is a complete misunderstanding and bad theology going on. There are not two covenants existing side by side and there never was either. This is a Full Preterist invention as the Old Covenant was made void at the Cross through Christ’s Death and Resurrection when the New Covenant was installed. He butchers this because he butchers Hebrews 8:13 because he has the Old Covenant ending at the Parousia rather than at the Cross and makes clear that is what he believes when he states explicitly that the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple was “when the Old Covenant vanished completely”[63]

This needs to be made quite clear. St. Paul in Hebrews 8:13 declares the New Covenant has made the first old, and that it is no longer in effect. Paul sees the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy in the New Covenant and in the Church, where the knowledge of God is experienced, sins are forgiven, and the people participate in the Kingdom of Heaven. Paul declares that the New Covenant has made and rendered the first one old, it is no longer being in effect. He sees the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy [having come to pass now] in the New Covenant and in the Church, where the knowledge of God is experienced, sins are forgiven, and the people participate in the Kingdom of Heaven [thanks to Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross].

Hebrews 8:8-13 quotes from Jeremiah who had proclaimed that a new Covenant was coming into effect one day. Paul is showing us that that day is today, in the present, in Paul’s time right then, not having to wait until AD 70. When the announcement was made it was known and understood that first covenant formerly in effect was OLD when the announcement was made known. This was and is an upgrade, like a new phone and make the old phone obsolete and to be done away with. We have this upgrade today because Christ went to the Cross, died, and resurrected. The wording of Hebrews 8 makes it perfectly clear Paul is speaking about Jeremiah’s announcement being fulfilled today. As soon as it was made known, they were put on notice that the covenant they were under was old and ready to vanish when the new came and Paul is showing them it has already come and making that clear that Christ sealed the New Covenant with His blood and his death, and Resurrection, ushering in the New Covenant.

Hebrews 8:13 cannot and does not mean what Pike misinterprets it to mean. That which was waxing old was doing so after the cross and before 70AD. The context does not allow for the full preterist interpretation whatsoever. The old was already waxing old when Jeremiah made the announcement and was ready to vanish and did vanish when Christ nailed the old to His Cross. Pike has Christ fulfilling and ending the Old Covenant and installing the New Covenant in AD70 when the fact of the matter is that Christ fulfilled and ended the Old Covenant on the Cross with His death and Resurrection and installed the New Covenant then and not AD70. Therefore, the Old Covenant was ended and the New Covenant installed by Christ on the Cross through His death and Resurrection, not AD70. The 2nd Coming did not happen in AD70 and Hebrews 8 clearly has Christ fulfilling and making the Old Covenant obsolete through the Cross and not AD70.

With Matthew 5:17-18 though, Pike misinterprets and thus disregards that Christ installed the New Covenant on the Cross in favor of his own interpretations. Paul is declaring the Old Covenant was waxen and old in Jeremiah’s day and ended on the Cross.

2 Peter 3:4-7 actually deals with Greeks asking the question of where God is since He hasn’t appeared yet. They, being Greeks, would also be arguing that the universe is stable, so they would argue that convulsive upheavals like the 2nd Coming could not and would not happen in such a universe. St. Peter responds with 2 Peter 3:4-7 to show that we must see time as God sees it and that this is not a stable universe. It was in fact once destroyed by water in the time of the Flood and so he argues that a 2nd destruction awaits and is on the way, by fire. He is going to descend but is hastening the day, Peter argues, to allow repentance and to call us into living holy, as we should be, as we prepare to meet our God. The universe is not argued by Peter to be eternally stable at all. He argues otherwise as does Jude. If we read Enoch 83:3-5 as well, we see “I saw a vision how the earth was swallowed up in great abyss”. At the heart of this, whether you accept Enoch or not, is that Peter and Jude both clearly see that God will be changing the universe and the sinner will have to face the wrath of God. The destruction to come, it must be noted, will not be an annihilation but rather an invasion and ushering of the New Creation, the New Heavens and New Earth. The time will come when the material and human world must be purified from human sin and renewed. This renewal of the material world must be and will be accomplished on the Last Day.

Pike’s argument that if Matthew 5:17-18 is unfulfilled, we should all be under Torah and the Old Covenant ways right now is absurd and overlooks the obvious fact in Acts 10 and 15, and many other instances disprove that claim when Peter eats with Gentiles and St. Paul, also a Jew, preaches to them and eats with them and lives with them on his ministry. Pike conveniently forgets also that the Bible teaches that we cannot even follow the Law nor can we and never have we been able to fulfill the Law. It is only Christ who has fulfilled the Law and made us righteous by faith in Him. He, the Christ, as the High Priest gave His ultimate sacrifice and installed the New Covenant with His own blood, the Cross, and His Resurrection. In this, the New has superseded the Old and rendered it as dead, waxed, and void (Hebrews 8:13). We are no longer under the Mosaic Law. We are under the Law of faith, in the New Covenant.

Matthew 5:17’s “law or the prophets” is merely a way of referring to the whole Old Testament. Christ says He has “not come to abolish”. We should read Matthew 5:21-48 as well with their correctives in light of Christ’s opening remarks in 5:17-18. In fulfilling the Law, Jesus does not alter, replace, or nullify the former commands; rather, He establishes their true intent and purpose in His teaching and accomplishes them in His obedient life. When He says “until all is accomplished” it means until the full manifestation of God’s Kingdom, for which we are called on to pray for (Matthew 6:10). St. Hilary of Poiters says of Matthew 5 that “from the expression, “pass”, we may suppose the constituting elements of heaven and earth will not be annihilated… He [Christ] does not intend to abolish it but to enhance it by fulfilling it. He declares to His apostles they will not enter heaven unless their righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees. Therefore, He bypasses what is laid down in the Law, not for the sake of abolishing it, but for the sake of fulfilling it[64].

It is clear that Pike has misinterpreted a lot and needs to be corrected on a lot. In conclusion, Pike has been proven wrong. The Old Covenant has passed and been rendered obsolete. We are bound to the New Covenant and not the Old. Full preterism requires one to overlook a lot of the New Testament and the Old Testament where it strongly suggests one day the material creation will be changed and transformed, no longer subject to the conditions brought to Creation by Adams’ sin. We know God will not be destroying Creation. He will restore, renew, and transform it into the Image of Christ (Rom. 8:20-21 - “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay/corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God”). We also know that at the 2nd Coming the literal biologically deceased will rise from the literal grave. With that, Pike has been disproven.

[1] D. Robert Pike. 2015. God’s Promise of Redemption – a story of fulfilled prophecy. 2015. Truth in Living Publishing. North Port, FL. Kindle. Loc. 320
[2] Ibid. Loc. 450.
[3] Ibid. Loc. 389.
[4] Ibid. Loc. 290.
[5] Jean-Claude Larchet. Theology of the Body. SVS Press. 2016. 34. 37.
[6] Robert Alter. The Five Books of Moses: A Translation with Commentary. W.W. Norton & Co. NY. London. 2004. (Kindle)
[7] Search: Genesis 2:17.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Ibid.
[10] Ibid.
[11] Pike. God’s Promise of Redemption. Loc. 751.
[12] Ibid. Loc. 839.
[13] Ibid. Loc. 981.
[14] Ibid. Loc. 1901.
[15] Ibid. Loc. 1906.
[16] Ibid. Loc. 1925.
[17] Fr. Lawrence R. Farley. 1st & 2nd Corinthians: Straight from the Heart. Conciliar Press. Ben Lomond, CA. 2005. 165-166.
[18] Florovsky. 34.
[19] Ibid. 95.
[20] Catena App. 1 Cor. 15:4.
[21] Farley. Lawrence R. Farley. 1 & 2nd Corinthians: Straight From the Heart. Conciliar Press. Ben Lamond, CA. 2005. 167.
[22] Ibid. 168.
[23] Georges Florovsky. Creation & Redemption. Harvard University. 1976. 105-106.
[24] Ibid. 106-107.
[25] Ibid. 109.
[26] Catena App. 1 Cor. 15:12.
[27] Farley. 172-173.
[28] Catena App. 1 Corinthians 15:17 and 15:19.
[29] Florovsky. 111-112.
[30] Ibid. 120, 126.
[31] Frost. Parousia. 84-85.
[32] Nicholas Arseniev. Revelation of Life Eternal. SVS. Crestwood, NY. 1982. 13.
[33] Ibid. 64-65.
[34] Ibid. 74.
[35] Ibid. 83, 84, 85.
[36] Ibid. 88.
[37] Ibid. 107, 107-108
[38] Ibid. 115. 116.
[39] Florovsky. 229-230, 249.
[40] Catena App. 1 Corinthians 15:20.
[41] Catena App. 1 Cor. 15:21.
[42] Farley. 173-175, 176.
[43] Ibid. 177-178.
[44] Ibid. 180-182.
[45] Ibid. 182-183.
[46] Pomanzansky. 340.
[47] Ibid. 158.
[48] Ibid. 131, 132.
[49] Florovsky. 136.
[50] Ibid. 147, 148, 152.
[51] Farley. 184, 185, 186.
[52] Jerome Study Bible. Vol. 2. 234.
[53] Ibid. Loc. 2409.
[54] Ibid. Loc. 3507.
[56] Conley. Hope Resurrected. 2019. 453-454.
[57] Pike. God’s Promise of Redemption. Loc. 2649.
[58] Ibid. Loc. 4213.
[59] Ibid. Loc. 4856.
[60] Ibid. Loc. 5406
[61] Ibid. Loc. 3892.
[62] Ibid. Loc. 3915.
[63] Ibid. Loc. 3414.
[64] Catena App. Mt. 5:19 – St. Hilary of Poiters.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Gospel of John - Chapters 16-21 Notes

Chapter 16 16:1-4 [Scripture and Tradition go hand in hand and agree with one another saying the same thing] The Church will be persecuted. ...