Saul’s Name Didn’t Change at Damascus, His Eschatology Did

Damascus

Despite popular belief, Saul did not become Paul on the road to Damascus. Those are simply two versions of the same name: Saul the Hebrew version, Paul the Roman.

However, what did change when Christ appeared to Paul—and it’s perhaps the most overlooked part of the story—was Paul’s eschatology.

In Paul’s encounter with Christ, he saw the end breaking into the present. In fact, Matthew Aernie and Donald Hartley, authors of The Righteous & Merciful Judge, suggest that for Paul, his vision was nothing less than “a day of the Lord.”

What is “a day of the Lord”?

“Day of the Lord” terminology is grounded in the Old Testament.

A day of the Lord is an event when he comes in righteous and merciful judgment. While the prophets referred to many “days of the Lord,” in their near future, these all foreshadowed one climactic and final “Day.” Historic and localized events in Israel’s history such as famine, war, and exile all predicted the ultimate Day.

In this climactic Day of the Lord, he will visit the world to vindicate his people, judge the nations, and establish his kingdom of peace (e.g. Isa 13:6; Joel 2:1; Joel 3:14; Micah 4:1–13) through a Davidic king (e.g. Isa 9:1–7; 11:1–16; Jer 23:5–6; Ezek 34:23–24).

Paul’s own day of the Lord experience

Aernie and Hartley suggest that Paul’s experience of the glorified Christ on the Damascus road is in fact “a proleptic day of the Lord” (p. 88, italics in original). That is, Paul had a foretaste of the final Day on the Damascus road. How was his encounter with Jesus connected to the Day of the Lord?

First, Paul experienced a Christophany. That is, the risen Christ revealed himself to Paul (Gal 1:16; 1 Cor 15:5–8; Acts 9:17) in a way analogous to OT Theopanies of the LORD. However, rather than the appearance of the LORD, this was the appearance of Jesus.

Second, Paul recognized that the day of the Lord would be “fulfilled in Jesus” (p. 91). If the hopes and expectations of the OT prophets found their expression through the Messiah—and the Messiah had indeed come—then Jesus is the focus of the coming Day.

Third, by recognizing the Messiah had come, Paul realized that God has “inaugurated the end of the age” (p. 93; see 1 Cor 7:29–31). God’s saving promises have begun in the coming of Jesus. What’s more, Jesus’ first coming proves that the Day is all the more imminent.

Fourth, Paul was commissioned to preach. Paul’s experience was analogous to OT prophetic callings. Compare Jeremiah 1:5 and Galatians 1:15–16 (emphasis added):

 

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations. (Jeremiah 1:5)

But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone (Galatians 1:15-16)

 

As the prophets responded to God’s call by proclaiming the word of the Lord, so too Paul preached the gospel of Christ. As the prophets warned of the coming day of the Lord, so too Paul warned of the coming of Christ.

Fifth, Paul’s experience was forensic. That is, the coming Judge revealed himself to Paul. However, “instead of retribution, the Judge gave Paul mercy, making him a new creature and commissioning him as the apostle to the gentles” (p. 91). Thus, Paul preached a message of grace that he had himself received.

The theological importance of Paul’s experience of Jesus on the Damascus road cannot be understated. When Paul encountered Jesus, he personally met the coming Judge and experienced a foretaste of the imminent Day of the Lord. It’s no surprise that this resulted in the day of the Lord becoming “one of the primary components of Paul’s theological matrix” (p. 93).

***

This post is based on chapter 4 in The Righteous & Merciful Judge by Matthew Aernie and Donald Hartley, part of the Studies in Scripture and Biblical Theology series from Lexham Press.

 

Guest writer Lindsay John Kennedy, an Aussie/Brit living in USA, is a card-carrying Bible nerd who serves at Imprint Church and blogs at My Digital Seminary

Comments

  1. Indeed, Paul’s eschatology did change but not to “Dispensationalism”. What he was shown was that Jesus was returning to Jerusalem in his own lifetime to “visit” Jerusalem as he spoke of in Matthew 24:1ff and elsewhere and the gentiles also were to be gathered with the new covenant Jews to meet the Lord in the air. [You may recognize this as the “preterist” or “covenant eschatology” view]. In this view the “last days” were the roughly forty years from Jesus’ rejection as king by the Jews. This was not the last days of the world as in dispensationalism but rather the last days of the temple-centric Jewish theocracy and the end of their covenants and unique place as God’s people. IE: The years leading up to 66-73AD.

    Once we understand that Paul and the Corinthians were talking about an event that would happen within the next 20 years his writings cohere. He is not against marriage but because the time is short he recommends against it. In just a few years the horrors of the Revelation would be unleashed in the judgment of God, who long had promised that he would bring wrath upon his people, expel them from the land, etc. Who wants to have a baby in tow during a war described as “Jacob’s trouble” and “great tribulation such as never was nor ever will be again”? One should be praying that it doesn’t occur on the Sabbath, during the winter. Oy, yoy, yoy!

    • Bill Ross wrote: “What he was shown was that Jesus was returning to Jerusalem in his own lifetime to “visit” Jerusalem as he spoke of in Matthew 24:1ff and elsewhere and the gentiles also were to be gathered with the new covenant Jews to meet the Lord in the air…… In just a few years the horrors of the Revelation would be unleashed in the judgment of God…”

      So Jesus returned to Jerusalem around 70 AD? And the full horrifying outpouring described in Revelation happened around 70 AD? Seriously?

      Perhaps I am missing something here, but this kinda reminds me of why I have steered away from theology since my twenties, because what really is the point in spending one’s life picking and siding with and learning one of these various (crazy) interpretations that are out there? Where is the Holy Spirit leading us into all Truth when we cannot agree on such seemingly simple things? And are we really to believe that “great tribulation such as never was nor ever will be again” took place in 70 AD, when we have WWI and WWII and many other wars to compare to?

      • I studiously avoided prophecy most of my life because it seemed to me to be as useful as a map in a mall without a “YOU ARE HERE” sign! But there are clear indicators (and they have nothing to do with modern day headlines).

        Jesus said that everything would happen before the current generation (those living in 33AD) had all passed away. And it did, within 40 years later!

        He predicted that it would involve the destruction of Jerusalem, the temple and the end of the age (Matt 24:1ff) and that came to pass.

        I raised the question of what Israel’s darkest day might have been and got these responses:

        https://judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/88491/is-the-fall-of-babylon-considered-to-be-israels-darkest-day

        And here:

        https://judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/88485/do-jewish-historians-consider-the-destruction-of-jerusalem-in-70-ce-on-par-with

        The latter is the more interesting.

        The horrible stuff in Revelation, which Jeremiah refers to as the “time of Jakob’s trouble” (aka “great tribulation”) echoes the 10 plagues on Egypt. Notice that in Revelation, Jerusalem is Egypt!:

        Rev 11:8 KJV – 8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.

        Jesus had predicted, extensively how Jerusalem will be compassed by armies, the temple complex destroyed, etc.:

        Mat 24:1-2 KJV – 1 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. 2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

        Some 1,100,000 Jewish non-combatants were killed, many thousand soldiers, people had to hide in the caves because they were expelled from Rome and lost their citizenship (and could not buy or sell).

        Mat 23:31-38 KJV – 31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets. 32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. 33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? 34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: 35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. 36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. 37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! 38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.

      • Eugene Henson says:

        Rob,

        The Ruminator is actually right… I know that this sounds crazy to you, but it is because of the crazy interpretation you have most likely been taught. It is actually Dispensationalism that is the new kid on the block when it comes to interpreting eschatology. It was created by John Nelson Darby in the early 1830’s. Why did it take the Church nearly 1800 years to figure this out? It actually didn’t take that long. What the Ruminator is telling you is what the Church has taught from the beginning. You just never heard of it…

        Your comment about the “great tribulation such as never was nor ever will be again” can easily be explained. First of all, you have to realize that this statement is part of an apocalyptic lesson that Jesus gives His disciples. You must take into account that the type of literature changes in the Olivet discourse from historical narrative to apocalyptic. This style of literature is meant to be over the top. Second, this is not the first time in the Bible that this type of phrase was used… ‘And because of all your abominations, I will do among you what I have not done, and the like of which I will never do again. (Eze 5:9) ‘Moreover, there shall be a great cry in all the land of Egypt, such as there has not been before and such as shall never be again. (Ex 11:6)

        Jesus did “return” in judgement on Jerusalem in 70AD… Read Matt 24:1-34 again. Jesus said that not one stone of the Temple would be left upon another that would not be torn down. That happened in 70 AD. He said that there would be famines, and earthquakes, and wars. That all happened and culminated by 70 AD. Read verse 34. Jesus says “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. (Mt 24:34). The construction in the Greek is very telling and informative. The verb “will not pass away” is an aorist subjunctive verb. There is a double negation of the verb with οὐ μὴ (not, not). This construction is the strongest way in Greek to say that something will not happen.

        Wallace describes this construction this way,
        “Emphatic negation is indicated by οὐ μή plus the aorist subjunctive or, less frequently, οὐ μή plus the future indicative (e.g., Matt 26:35; Mark 13:31; John 4:14; 6:35). This is the strongest way to negate something in Greek. One might think that the negative with the subjunctive could not be as strong as the negative with the indicative. However, while οὐ + the indicative denies a certainty, οὐ μή + the subjunctive denies a potentiality. The negative is not weaker; rather, the affirmation that is being negatived is less firm with the subjunctive. οὐ μή rules out even the idea as being a possibility: “ου μή is the most decisive way of negativing something in the future.” Wallace, D. B. (1996). Greek Grammar beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (p. 468). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

        So Jesus is saying that it is impossible for this generation to pass away before all these things take place. Everything from verse 1 to 34 happened just as Jesus predicted. Which is what we should expect.
        If you really want to understand eschatology, you have to take this verse seriously.

  2. Very interesting & enlightening.

  3. Clark von Heller says:

    I am seeking permission to quote from one of your articles in a new book I am authoring on the Bible. I am a professor at South Texas College in McAllen, TX USA.
    Could I please have your guidelines regarding publication?

    Thank you,
    Dr CLH

    • Matthew Boffey says:

      Hi Clark, thank you for your care to give the article credit. You can cite it like you would any other material from the internet. And if you plan on quoting at length, you can consider this your written permission.

      Best to you,
      Matthew

  4. I wonder why Paul’s Damascus Road encounter with Christ is spoken of in terms of changing his eschatology. It changed a lot more than that!

    Paul never actually taught an imminent (“at any moment”) day of the Lord that is so popular today. A good place to see that is 2 Th 2:1-8.

    God bless.

    • Hi Annette, thanks for your comment!

      As the post says, more than just Paul’s eschatology was affected by the Damascus Road encounter, but that aspect is often overlooked.

    • Paul was part of the last generation of covenant Israel. All of the “last days” references in scripture have to do specifically with the end of the Jewish covenants, not with “the end of the world”. When do you think these things happened? When did the gentiles flow into the mountain of the LORD’s house if not in the days of the messiah and the apostles?:

      Isa 2:2 KJV – 2 And it shall come to pass **in the last days**, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations [IE: the gentiles] shall flow unto it.

      Mic 4:1 KJV – 1 But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it.

      When was the spirit given?:

      Act 2:17 KJV – 17 And it shall come to pass **in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy**, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

      Why did Paul warn Tim about the last days if they were thousands of years off?:

      2Ti 3:1 KJV – 1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

      When did God speak through his son?:

      Heb 1:2 KJV – 2 **Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son**, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

      When did James’ audience heap up their treasures?

      Jas 5:3 KJV – 3 Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. **Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days**.

      And again, why warn now for something that won’t take place for thousands of years?:

      2Pe 3:3 KJV – 3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,

      Jesus said all the judgment of all generations would fall on the Jews of that generation.

      “Behold I come RIGHT AWAY!”

      So while Peter and Paul et al lived in the “last days” we do not. There is no “end of the world”:

      Eph 2:7 KJV – 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

      So what happened? Jesus “swallowed up death in victory” (for the saints):

      Isa 25:8 KJV – 8 He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.

      Prior to Jesus’ return around 70AD, when people died they went to sleep in hADES/SHEOL. When he returned with the keys of death and hell, Jesus “took captivity captive”. He emptied hades, killed who needed killing and took the rest to heaven. From then on, anyone who dies in the Lord is immediately translated into the Happy Place. No more “death sleep”. Death is cheated out of ever having the saint:

      1Co 15:51-58 KJV – 51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

      So before 70ad people died and went to hADES. Now they go to the Happy Place immediately when they “die”:

      Rev 21:4 KJV – 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

      Blessed are those who die in the Lord now!

      Note: This is called the “preterist view” or “covenant eschatology view”. This seems to be the correct view.

      • Will Scholten says:

        Bill Ross said;
        Paul was part of the last generation of covenant Israel. All of the “last days” references in scripture have to do specifically with the end of the Jewish covenants, not with “the end of the world”. When do you think these things happened? When did the gentiles flow into the mountain of the LORD’s house if not in the days of the messiah and the apostles?:

        But Bill the scripture teaches us that we are ALL still under the Old Covenant!!

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbOCnRFx-h0&t=1s
        Scripture proves we are all still under the Old Covenant until this heaven and earth pass away

        We have been taught, we are now under the New Covenant, but the scripture do not support that at all!!

        • Hi Will,

          The new covenant, like the Sinai covenant was made exclusively with the houses of Israel and Judah:

          Exo 20:2 KJV – 2 I am the LORD thy God, **which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt**, out of the house of bondage.

          Heb 8:8 KJV – 8 For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:
          Heb 8:9 KJV – 9 Not according to the covenant **that I made with their fathers** in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.

          In fact, the purpose of the new covenant was to finally make Israel into the “joy of the whole earth”, not by Torah but by grace. It has nothing to do with the gentiles who are justified entirely by faith alone.

          Now, the first covenant was not technically torn up but the temple was (~70ad) which means that it is inoperable.

          The new covenant was ratified by Jesus’ blood (IE: “this is the new covenant in my blood”).

          • Will Scholten says:

            Bill Ross said;
            “The new covenant, like the Sinai covenant was made exclusively with the houses of Israel and Judah:”

            From Jacob on, scripture is ALL about Israel and Judah, they are His inheritance.

            8 When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance,
            when he divided all mankind,
            he set up boundaries for the peoples
            according to the number of the sons of Israel. s
            9 For the LORD’s portion is his people,
            Jacob his allotted inheritance.

            The New International Version. (2011). (Dt 32:8–9). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

            Of all the nations, Israel is YHWH’S inheritance, right!

            One Nation Under One King
            15 The word of the LORD came to me: 16 “Son of man, take a stick of wood and write on it, ‘Belonging to Judah and the Israelites associated with him.’ Then take another stick of wood, and write on it, ‘Belonging to Joseph (that is, to Ephraim) and all the Israelites associated with him.’ 17 Join them together into one stick so that they will become one in your hand.
            18 “When your people ask you, ‘Won’t you tell us what you mean by this?’ 19 say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am going to take the stick of Joseph—which is in Ephraim’s hand—and of the Israelite tribes associated with him, and join it to Judah’s stick. I will make them into a single stick of wood, and they will become one in my hand.’ 20 Hold before their eyes the sticks you have written on 21 and say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. 22 I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. 23 They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, z and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God.
            24 “ ‘My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees. 25 They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your ancestors lived. They and their children and their children’s children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever. 26 I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever. 27 My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. 28 Then the nations will know that I the LORD make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.’ ”

            The New International Version. (2011). (Eze 37:15–28). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

            This has not happened yet, Israel is still scattered in the nations, right!!

            1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

            To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, 2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood:

            Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

            The New International Version. (2011). (1 Pe 1). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

            Contrary to what we are taught, these are who the gentiles are, not the nations themselves!!!

            28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

            The New International Version. (2011). (Mt 19:28). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

            This very clearly says “judging the 12 tribes of Israel” no other nation listed here, is there!!!

            24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

            The New International Version. (2011). (Mt 15:24). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

            This is very clear to ; sent only to the lost sheep of Israel!!!

            51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one.

            The New International Version. (2011). (Jn 11:51–52). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

            This ties in with Ezekiel 37, the 2 becoming one again, Judah (Jews) and Ephraim (Joseph), all are Israelites!!

            11 I am with you and will save you,’
            declares the LORD.
            ‘Though I completely destroy all the nations
            among which I scatter you,
            I will not completely destroy you.
            I will discipline you but only in due measure;
            I will not let you go entirely unpunished.’

            The New International Version. (2011). (Je 30:11). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

            This has not happened yet either, because there are still nations other than Israel.

            This proves the nations to which they were scattered, are not the “gentiles” we are told the “gentiles” who we are taught, are completely destroyed right!!!

            We need to become as Israel!!!!!

        • Eugene Henson says:

          Tell me, you who want to be under law, do you not listen to the law?
          22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman.
          23 But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise.
          24 aThis is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants: one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar.
          25 Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children.
          26 But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother.
          27 For it is written,
          “REJOICE, BARREN WOMAN WHO DOES NOT BEAR;
          BREAK FORTH AND SHOUT, YOU WHO ARE NOT IN LABOR;
          FOR MORE NUMEROUS ARE THE CHILDREN OF THE DESOLATE
          THAN OF THE ONE WHO HAS A HUSBAND.”
          28 And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise.
          29 But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also.
          30 But what does the Scripture say?
          “CAST OUT THE BONDWOMAN AND HER SON,
          FOR THE SON OF THE BONDWOMAN SHALL NOT BE AN HEIR WITH THE SON OF THE FREE WOMAN.”
          31 So then, brethren, we are not children of a bondwoman, but of the free woman. (Ga 4:21–31)

          And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. (Lk 22:20)

          For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second.
          8 For finding fault with them, He says,
          “BEHOLD, DAYS ARE COMING, SAYS THE LORD,
          WHEN I WILL EFFECT A NEW COVENANT
          WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AND WITH THE HOUSE OF JUDAH;
          9 NOT LIKE THE COVENANT WHICH I MADE WITH THEIR FATHERS
          ON THE DAY WHEN I TOOK THEM BY THE HAND
          TO LEAD THEM OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT;
          FOR THEY DID NOT CONTINUE IN MY COVENANT,
          AND I DID NOT CARE FOR THEM, SAYS THE LORD.
          10 “FOR THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL
          AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD:
          I WILL PUT MY LAWS INTO THEIR MINDS,
          AND I WILL WRITE THEM ON THEIR HEARTS.
          AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD,
          AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.
          11 “AND THEY SHALL NOT TEACH EVERYONE HIS FELLOW CITIZEN,
          AND EVERYONE HIS BROTHER, SAYING, ‘KNOW THE LORD,’
          FOR ALL WILL KNOW ME,
          FROM THE LEAST TO THE GREATEST OF THEM.
          12 “FOR I WILL BE MERCIFUL TO THEIR INIQUITIES,
          AND I WILL REMEMBER THEIR SINS NO MORE.”
          13 When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear. (Heb 8:7–13)

          The last vestiges of the OT covenant disappeared with the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD

    • Why then do so many good Bible teachers (John MacArthur, Arnold Fruchtenbaum, …) disagree with your interpretation?

      • Hi Rob, based on the indentation I believe this was directed to me.

        First of all, “covenant eschatology” is not original to me (though I have my own take on some things). This gentleman, Don K. Peterson is a more renowned champion of this view:

        http://www.privideos.com/video/483/the-olivet-discourse-24-the-end-of-what-age

        Dispensationalism is not ancient but modern, so it isn’t some huge departure from tradition to deviate from their view. Dispensationalism is based on the idea that the 70th seven of Daniel was separated from the other 69 sevens by thousands of years which I always thought strange but now thing ridiculous!

        This is the background of Matthew 24:

        Mat 24:21 KJV – 21 For then shall be great **tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.**

        I take this to be an allusion to:

        >Eze 5:7-10 NLT – 7 “Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: You people have behaved worse than your neighbors and have refused to obey my decrees and regulations. You have not even lived up to the standards of the nations around you. 8 Therefore, I myself, the Sovereign LORD, am now your enemy. I will punish you publicly while all the nations watch. 9 Because of your detestable idols, **I will punish you like I have never punished anyone before or ever will again**. 10 Parents will eat their own children, and children will eat their parents. I will punish you and scatter to the winds the few who survive.

        The “great tribulation” aka “Jacob’s Trouble” refers to the horrific divine visitation on the temple and Jerusalem as long promised in the scriptures:

        Deu 32:21-25 NLT – 21 They [IE: “Israel”] have roused my jealousy by worshiping things that are not God; they have provoked my anger with their useless idols. Now I will rouse their jealousy through people who are not even a people; I will provoke their anger through the foolish Gentiles. 22 For my anger blazes forth like fire and burns to the depths of the grave. It devours the earth and all its crops and ignites the foundations of the mountains. 23 **I will heap disasters upon them and shoot them down with my arrows. 24 I will weaken them with famine, burning fever, and deadly disease. I will send the fangs of wild beasts and poisonous snakes that glide in the dust. 25 Outside, the sword will bring death, and inside, terror will strike both young men and young women, both infants and the aged.**

        So way back in Deuteronomy God promised that one day he would unleash all his wrath on Israel:

        Deu 32:34-35 NLT – 34 “The LORD says, **’Am I not storing up these things, sealing them away in my treasury?** 35 I will take revenge; I will pay them back. **In due time their feet will slip**. Their day of disaster will arrive, and their destiny will overtake them.’

        That “day” is the “day of the LORD” – the day of his visitation:

        Zep 1:7, 14 KJV – 7 Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord GOD: for **the day of the LORD is at hand**: for the LORD hath prepared a sacrifice [IE: the messiah Jesus], **he hath bid his guests**. … 14 **The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly**, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly.
        Mal 4:5 KJV – 5 Behold, I will send you Elijah [IE: John the Big Dipper] the prophet before the coming of **the great and dreadful day of the LORD**:
        Act 2:20 KJV – 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, **before that great and notable day of the Lord come**:

        It all went down in the first century.

        • Eugene Henson says:

          Great verses Ruminator…

          Here are some more to add to your thoughts. They are from Lev 26.

          But if you do not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments,
          15 and if you despise My statutes, or if your soul abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments, but break My covenant,
          16 I also will do this to you:
          I will even appoint terror over you, wasting disease and fever which shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart.
          And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.
          17 I will set My face against you, and you shall be defeated by your enemies.
          Those who hate you shall reign over you, and you shall flee when no one pursues you.

          18 ‘And after all this, if you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.
          19 I will break the pride of your power;
          I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze.
          20 And your strength shall be spent in vain;
          for your land shall not yield its produce, nor shall the trees of the land yield their fruit.

          21 ‘Then, if you walk contrary to Me, and are not willing to obey Me, I will bring on you seven times more plagues, according to your sins.
          22 I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, destroy your livestock, and make you few in number;
          and your highways shall be desolate.

          23 ‘And if by these things you are not reformed by Me, but walk contrary to Me,
          24 then I also will walk contrary to you, and I will punish you yet seven times for your sins.
          25 And I will bring a sword against you that will execute the vengeance of the covenant;
          when you are gathered together within your cities I will send pestilence among you;
          and you shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.
          26 When I have cut off your supply of bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall bring back your bread by weight, and you shall eat and not be satisfied.

          27 ‘And after all this, if you do not obey Me, but walk contrary to Me,
          28 then I also will walk contrary to you in fury;
          and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins.
          29 You shall eat the flesh of your sons, and you shall eat the flesh of your daughters.
          30 I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars, and cast your carcasses on the lifeless forms of your idols;
          and My soul shall abhor you.
          31 I will lay your cities waste and bring your sanctuaries to desolation, and I will not smell the fragrance of your sweet aromas.
          32 I will bring the land to desolation, and your enemies who dwell in it shall be astonished at it.
          33 I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you;
          your land shall be desolate and your cities waste. The New King James Version. (Le 26:14–33)

          In this passage, there are four seven-fold punishments for the sins of the Jewish nation. The Book of Revelation is made up of four Seven-Fold punishments. All these judgements were poured out on their nation in 70AD.

      • Eugene Henson says:

        I have a great deal of respect for John MacArthur (we used to attend his church), but I have never heard of Arnold Fruchtenbaum.

        First, eschatology is not easy. There is not one single place where you can go that explains everything concisely. Second, most seminaries (and churches for that matter) in this country teach Dispensational theology. Most people tend to go with what they have been taught – especially on such a difficult doctrine. Third, you must also account for church politics and the desire to keep as many people in attendance as possible. Fourth, most Christians don’t consider eschatology to be that big of a deal so why put in the effort or take the risk of losing large numbers of members? Fifth, many people don’t want to experience death and a Pre-Trib Rapture holds out the hope that they can skip that whole nasty process. Sixth, it is very popular in this country and going against the grain may make you unpopular. Seventh, you may have other battles to fight…

        I guess they can also believe that they are correct in their theology??

        I was a Dispensationalist for many years. I spent a great deal of time trying to understand everything and match Dispensational theology to the Bible. The problem I had was that I couldn’t make it fit. I couldn’t even make it fit with major themes in the Bible such as the character and faithfulness of God.

        A major underpinning of Dispensationalism is their understanding of Daniel 9:24-27. These are the famous Seventy Weeks of Daniel. Dispensationalists believe that Sixty-nine weeks of the Seventy weeks have been fulfilled, but that there is a gap between the 69th week and the 70th week. This gap exists because the Jews rejected their Messiah, so God went to plan B and inserted the Church age between the 69th and 70th week.

        The main problem as I see it with this position is that it calls into question the character and faithfulness of God. Daniel was reading the prophet Jeremiah regarding the 70 year captivity that he was currently experiencing. As you recall, Daniel was hauled off into captivity in Babylon when he was a young man. Daniel knew from the prophecy given in Jeremiah that the time of the captivity was coming to an end. And so he was reviewing Jeremiah refreshing and maybe double-checking his calculations…

        In the middle of his reading, an angel appears to Daniel and gives him the prophecy of the the famous Seventy Weeks. This new prophecy was based on the original 70 years from Jeremiah. This brings up an obvious question… Was there a gap in the 70 year captivity in Babylon? No, there was no gap. And we shouldn’t expect one. If God says that something is going to last a certain amount of time or that something is going to take place in a certain amount of time in the future, then shouldn’t we expect it to happen exactly as God has said? Isn’t God faithful in everything?

        Can you think of any other prophecy in the whole of Scripture where God has said that something will happen in a defined time period where that didn’t precisely happen as God had revealed? How long did God say that Moses and the Israelites would wander in the wilderness? God said forty years. Was there a gap between the 39th and 40th year of an indeterminate amount of time or did they wander precisely 40 years?

        When God told Noah that it would rain for 40 days and nights, did it rain for 80 or 120 days and nights or was it precisely forty? When God told Abraham that his descendants would be strangers in a land and be pressed and enslaved for 400 years, were they enslaved for 600 years or more?

        No in every single case, God was faithful and true. We shouldn’t expect anything else. Why would someone even ever suggest otherwise? So when someone stands up in front of a Church or writes in a book that that there is a gap between the 69th and 70th weeks of Daniel someone ought to question what they are saying and point out very strongly that they are calling into question the faithfulness of God.

        Give ear, O heavens, and let me speak;
        And let the earth hear the words of my mouth.
        2 “Let my teaching drop as the rain,
        My speech distill as the dew,
        As the droplets on the fresh grass
        And as the showers on the herb.
        3 “For I proclaim the name of the LORD;
        Ascribe greatness to our God!
        4 “The Rock! His work is perfect,
        For all His ways are just;
        A God of faithfulness and without injustice,
        Righteous and upright is He. (Dt 32:1–4)

        Sing for joy in the LORD, O you righteous ones;
        Praise is becoming to the upright.
        2 Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre;
        Sing praises to Him with a harp of ten strings.
        3 Sing to Him a new song;
        Play skillfully with a shout of joy.
        4 For the word of the LORD is upright,
        And all His work is done in faithfulness.
        5 He loves righteousness and justice; (Ps 33:1–5)

        Your lovingkindness, O LORD, extends to the heavens,
        Your faithfulness reaches to the skies. (Ps 36:5)

        And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. (Re 19:11)

        At its very core, Dispensationalism doesn’t even pass the sniff test.

  5. Paul’s view of eschatology clearly changed although he still believed in the Resurrection of believers as was understood before the Sanhedrin in Acts 22 is quite clear,
    “Now when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.” And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.”

    Remember Galatians 4:4 also,
    ὅτε δὲ ἦλθεν τὸ πλήρωμα τοῦ χρόνου, ἐξαπέστειλεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν υἱὸν αὐτοῦ, γενόμενον ἐκ γυναικός, γενόμενον ὑπὸ νόμον, ἵνα τοὺς ὑπὸ νόμον ἐξαγοράσῃ, ἵνα τὴν υἱοθεσίαν ἀπολάβωμεν.
    But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

    The key phrase is found in, “God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,…” This is the only time that Paul references the Incarnation of Jesus. Christ’s death ended the Law. The New Testament would begin at His Resurrection. Thus, Matthew 28, Mark 26, Luke 24 and John 20-21 are the beginning of the New Testament.
    When Jesus was alive on the earth the Old Testament was still in effect. So let’s be careful as to pronouncement that Jesus made since He came “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel’ NOT to the Gentiles” (Matthew 10:6).

  6. Bryant J Williams III says:

    Eugene Henson,

    You said,
    “The Ruminator is actually right… I know that this sounds crazy to you, but it is because of the crazy interpretation you have most likely been taught. It is actually Dispensationalism that is the new kid on the block when it comes to interpreting eschatology. It was created by John Nelson Darby in the early 1830’s. Why did it take the Church nearly 1800 years to figure this out? It actually didn’t take that long. What the Ruminator is telling you is what the Church has taught from the beginning.”

    That is wrong.
    First, during the first centuries after Christ, various forms of chiliasm (millennialism) were to be found in the Church, both East and West. It was a decidedly majority view at that time, as admitted by Eusebius, himself an opponent of the doctrine:
    “The same writer gives also other accounts which he says came to him through unwritten tradition, certain strange parables and teachings of the Saviour, and some other more mythical things. To these belong his statement that there will be a period of some thousand years after the resurrection of the dead, and that the kingdom of Christ will be set up in material form on this very earth. I suppose he got these ideas through a misunderstanding of the apostolic accounts, not perceiving that the things said by them were spoken mystically in figures. For he appears to have been of very limited understanding, as one can see from his discourses. But it was due to him that so many of the Church Fathers after him adopted a like opinion, urging in their own support the antiquity of the man; as for instance Irenaeus and any one else that may have proclaimed similar views.”
    — Eusebius, The History of the Church, Book 3:39:11-13

    Nevertheless, strong opposition later developed from some quarters, most notably from Augustine of Hippo. The Church never took a formal position on the issue at any of the ecumenical councils, and thus both pro and con positions remained consistent with orthodoxy. The addition to the Nicene Creed was intended to refute the perceived Sabellianism of Marcellus of Ancyra and others, a doctrine which includes an end to Christ’s reign and which is explicitly singled out for condemnation by the council [Canon #1].
    Millennialism was taught by various earlier writers such as Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Commodian, Lactantius, Methodius, and Apollinaris of Laodicea in a form now called premillennialism. According to religious scholar Rev. Dr. Francis Nigel Lee, “Justin’s ‘Occasional Chiliasm’ sui generis which was strongly anti-pretribulationistic was followed possibly by Pothinus in A.D. 175 and more probably (around 185) by Irenaeus”. Justin Martyr, discussing his own premillennial beliefs in his Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, Chapter 110, observed that they were not necessary to Christians:
    “I admitted to you formerly, that I and many others are of this opinion, and [believe] that such will take place, as you assuredly are aware; but, on the other hand, I signified to you that many who belong to the pure and pious faith, and are true Christians, think otherwise.”

    Here is another instance of the dualism of Gnosticism affected the Church in ways not easily seen. Various Gnostic groups (which were heretical) as early as the Second Century CE were against Millennarism. Furthermore, the revival of Millennialism coincides with the return to a literal-historical-grammatical hermeneutic against the prevailing allegorical hermeneutic that was used by Philo of Alexandria, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Augustine, and Gnosticism.

    Thus, Millennialism was not the new kid on the block. It was revived after the Church dealt with other more pressing issues, i.e Trinity, person and work of Christ, ecclesiology, etc.

  7. Eugene Henson says:

    Specifically I referenced Dispensationalism as being the new kid on the block. It started in the 1830s by John Nelson Darby of the Plymouth Brethren. It was picked up a popularized by C.I Scofield in his reference Bible. Look it up if you don’t believe me.

    It is by far the most popular view of eschatology around today. Popular, but wrong. Sorry, but the Bible does not teach this view of eschatology. It is impossible to make it fit with what Scripture teaches on the subject. I know – I tried.

    Finding obscure references to something like it in antiquity doesn’t make it fit the Bible any more either. Jesus was VERY clear and in fact EMPHATIC in the Olivet Discourse when He said, “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” Ask yourself two questions: What generation? and What things??

    The construction in Greek is a double negative with an aorist subjunctive verb. It is the most emphatic way in Greek to say something will not happen. This means that Jesus is saying that it is IMPOSSIBLE that THIS generation will pass away before ALL THESE THINGS take place. (Matt 24:24)

    What generation? The generation to whom He was speaking. The disciple’s generation. The generation of those people standing around Jesus at the time. 16 times in Matthew “this generation” is used. 16 times it meant that current generation. Mark and Luke quote Jesus in the exact same way. Jesus used the near demonstrative “THIS”, not the far demonstrative “THAT.” Jesus was not speaking to a future generation, He was speaking to the people of that day.

    What things? All the things Jesus just told them. Every one of them!! “Wars and rumors of wars”, “earthquakes”, “famines”, “pestilence”, “sun, moon, and stars”, “destruction of the Temple”, “gospel preached to the inhabited earth”, etc., all THOSE things! They all happened before that generation was gone.

    Which is what we should expect since our Lord said it was going to happen that way.

    You have to take that verse seriously if you want to understand biblical eschatology.

    Grace and peace.