"THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS" Paul's Remarkable Conversion (1:11-24) by Mark Copeland

                     "THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS"

                 Paul's Remarkable Conversion (1:11-24)


1. In writing to the churches in Galatia, Paul set out to prove that...
   a. His apostleship came from Jesus, not man - Ga 1:1
   b. His gospel came by revelation from Jesus, not man - Ga 1:11-12

2. In doing so, he revealed remarkable facts about his conversion...
   a. Which not only substantiates his claims regarding his gospel and
   b. But also provides evidence for our faith in Jesus as the Son of

[The latter half of the first chapter of Galatians reveals pertinent
facts concerning Paul...]


      1. He persecuted the church - Ga 1:13
         a. In Jerusalem - Ac 8:1-3
         b. And beyond - Ac 9:1-2
         c. Something he believed he ought to do - Ac 26:9-11
      2. He was advancing in Judaism - Ga 1:14
         a. As a scholar, trained at the feet of Gamaliel - Ac 22:3; cf.
         b. In social standing, advancing beyond many of his
            1) Holding positions of religious power - Ac 26:12
            2) Which likely included access to financial power
         c. He was on the 'fast track' of success among his peers!
      3. He was zealous for his ancestral and religious traditions 
         - Ga 1:14
         a. Proud to be a Hebrew - Php 3:4-5
         b. Proud to be a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee 
            - Php 3:5; Ac 23:6
            1) A conservative sect of the Jews - Ac 26:4-5
            2) Noted for their opposition to Jesus during His ministry
               - e.g., Mt 12:14
         c. With such a religious background, he was naturally
            prejudiced against Jesus - Ac 26:9

      1. He had limited contact with the apostles - Ga 1:15-20
         a. He did not see them for three years after his conversion
         b. Even then, it was for was for just fifteen days - cf. Ac 9:
         c. Even then, he saw only Peter, and James the Lord's brother
      2. He was unknown by face to the churches of Judea - Ga 1:21-24
         a. He spent ten years in Syria and Cilicia - cf. Ac 9:30
         b. Those in Judea only heard about him
         c. Though they came to glorify God in him - cf. Ac 9:31

[The circumstances of Paul's conversion should cause us to glorify God
as well, which should become more apparent as we consider various...]


      1. Could it have been wealth?
         a. He had that with the Jews
         b. He left it for the poverty of following Christ 
            - cf. 1Co 4:11-12; Ac 20:33-34
      2. Could it have been fame?
         a. He had that with the Jews
         b. Consider what he experienced as a Christian 
            - cf. 1Co 4:10,13
            1) Regarded as foolish and weak, even by other Christians
            2) Viewed as the filth of the world by those in the world
      3. Could it have been power?
         a. He had that with the Jews
         b. Compare this with what he suffered as a Christian 
            - cf. 2 Co 11:24-28
      -- Indeed, no ulterior motive can be found to explain Paul's

      1. Then who deceived him?
         a. Friends would not, for he was their champion against the
         b. Christians could not, because of his persecution against
            1) Putting them into prison, chasing them into other towns
               - Ac 8:3; 9:1-2
            2) Even after his conversion, many feared him - cf. Ac 9:26
      2. His testimony does not allow for the possibility of deception
         a. He claimed to receive his gospel from Jesus, not man - Ga 1:
         b. He claimed to see Jesus raised from the dead - 1Co 15:8
      -- The empirical nature of his testimony precludes the possibility
         of deception

      1. Such was the conclusion of Festus, the governor - Ac 26:24
      2. Others have tried to explain his conversion in psychological
         a. That his intense persecution of Christians gave him a
            guilt-ridden conscience
         b. That combined with the heat on the road to Damascus, he
            became delirious and only thought he saw Jesus!
      3. Yet consider the testimony of Paul
         a. He had a clear conscience regarding persecuting the
            Christians - Ac 23:1
            1) It was something he thought he should do - Ac 26:9
            2) He did it out of ignorance, for which he knew he received
               mercy - 1Ti 1:13
         b. He said he saw Jesus more than once
            1) Not just on the road to Damascus!
            2) But on other occasions as well - Ac 18:9-10; 22:17-21;
               23:11; 2Co 12:8-9
      -- Read his epistles, do they seem like letters written by a mad

      1. The explanation given by Paul himself
         a. Before the Jerusalem mob - Ac 22:1-16
         b. Before King Agrippa and Festus the governor - cf. Ac 26:
      2. It is the only explanation that explains his conversion
         a. Why he was willing to forego wealth, fame, and power
         b. Why he was willing to suffer poverty, shame, and persecution
      -- As he said "I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision..."
         - Ac 26:19


1. "Paul's Remarkable Conversion" is best explained by...
   a. His own testimony that it was the resurrected Jesus who appeared
      to him
   b. Not once, but continuously throughout the rest of his life
   -- Serving as one of the greatest evidences for the resurrection of

2. What will you do with "Paul's Remarkable Conversion"...?
   a. If you do not yet believe in Jesus, may it spark further
      investigation into the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus
   b. If you already believe in Jesus, may it move you to glorify God!
      - cf. Ga 1:24

3. One of the best ways to glorify God is to give heed to the words of
   His servant Paul...
   a. Who would have us come to know and obey the One he saw on the road
      to Damascus
   b. Who has written of the true life and liberty that Jesus offers to
      all who believe and obey

Through such evidence as "Paul's Remarkable Conversion", God has given
testimony to the resurrection of Jesus.  Have you responded to this
evidence with the obedience of faith...?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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Bats Go Viral and Moses “Called” It by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Bats Go Viral and Moses “Called” It

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Bats are the only mammals that can truly fly, but it turns out that they have other unique characteristics that separate them from most (if not all) other mammals. In a project headed by Dr. Peng Zhou, an international research team did extensive studies on bats. Bats are hosts to 100 different viruses, many of which are harmful or even lethal to humans.1The team wanted to discover how bats can carry so many, and such deadly, viruses without getting sick themselves.
Turns out that bats have a special ability. When humans or mammals encounter a virus or other disease causing agent, their bodies “turn on” an immune system response that begins to fight the danger. When no such dangers are present, the body “switches off” the system. The reason for this on-off switch is that when the immune system is on, it fights threats, but it also poses risks to the animal. Michelle Baker, a member of the team, stated, “In other mammalian species, having the immune response constantly switched on is dangerous—for example it’s toxic to tissue and cells.”2 Bats, however, never seem to turn off their immune defense system. Even when no viruses or diseases threaten bats, they always have their immune response switched on. Baker noted that, in contrast to other mammalian immune responses that seem to harm their cells and tissues, “the bat immune system operates in harmony” with its body.3 What we see, then, is a mammal that can carry 100 viruses without getting sick, but that can easily transmit those viruses to other mammals and people.
These findings shed illuminating light on the biblical food regulations that Moses penned in approximately 1450 B.C. In Leviticus 11, Moses instructed the Israelites to avoid certain animals. He referred to those animals as “unclean” and told the Israelites to avoid contact with live unclean animals or with their dead carcasses. Leviticus 11:19 lists the bat as one of those unclean animals. Moses’ instructions would have kept the Israelites from getting viruses transmitted by bats.4 An in-depth look at the list of all unclean animals shows a remarkable knowledge5 by the author for avoiding potentially toxic and dangerous food sources.6 There is no way that Moses could have figured these things out himself. He must have been guided by an all-knowing, supernatural Being.
As we further explore the prohibition against eating or touching bats, a modern reader might wonder why even make such a law, because who wants to eat bats anyway? The fact is, however, bats have historically been “on the menu” in a number of countries. Lucy Maddox, writing for Science, penned an article in 2003 titled “Don’t Eat the Bats,”7 an instruction that sounds remarkably like what Moses said more than 3,000 years before she wrote her article. Maddox reviewed the history of the Chamorro people who live on Guam. This group was known to have unusually high chances of falling prey to a neurodegenerative disorder that can be debilitating and fatal. One reason suggested for this fact was that Chamorro people eat the seeds from the cycad plant. These seeds are known to have the neurotoxin BMAA in them. By washing the seeds thoroughly, however, most of the toxin can be removed. So, researchers were still baffled by the high rates of the disorder.
Turns out that the Chamorro people like to eat “flying foxes,” Guam’s large fruit bat. The bats also enjoy eating the seeds of the cycad plant, but they, of course, do not wash them. Because of this, BMAA builds up in bat flesh. Researchers found toxin levels in bat flesh to be “hundreds of times higher than in cycad flour.”8 Avoiding eating and touching bats is a great idea. We did not know why until recently. Moses’ most likely did not have all the details either. But the fact that he included bats in his list of unclean animals provides yet another piece of evidence for the divine inspiration of the Bible.


1 “Bat ‘Super Immunity’ Could Help Protect People,” ScienceDaily, CSIRO Australia, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160222155631.htm.
2 Ibid.
3 Ibid.
4 I have written about this in the book Behold! The Word of God (2007), Apologetics Press, http://apologeticspress.org/pdfs/e-books_pdf/Behold%20the%20Word%20of%20God.pdf, p. 124.
5 Eric Lyons (2009), “Did the Bible Writers Commit Biological Blunders?”, Apologetics Press, https://www.apologeticspress.org/AllegedDiscrepancies.aspx?article=2731.
6 Butt, pp. 103-131.
7 Lucy Maddox, “Don’t Eat the Bats,” Science, http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2003/08/dont-eat-bats.
8 Ibid.

Eclipses and the Totality of 2017 by Alana May, M.S. & Branyon May, Ph.D.


Eclipses and the Totality of 2017

by Alana May, M.S. & Branyon May, Ph.D.

On Monday, August 21st, the entire United States was treated to the exciting experience of seeing a solar eclipse, with a total solar eclipse visible to millions along the path of totality from Oregon to South Carolina. This event was a magnificent showing of an alignment between the Earth, Moon, and Sun. At just after 9:00 a.m. PDT the partial eclipse made its debut on the Western shores of Oregon. Shortly before 4:00 p.m. EDT the Moon’s remaining shadow moved off South Carolina’s coastal region. The umbral shadow of totality had a 70-mile wide diameter as it made its way across the country. While the entire continental United States was able to view the eclipse to some degree, only the regions within the 70-mile swath saw a total solar eclipse.
So what causes an eclipse? Although the Sun is physically 400 times larger than the Moon, it is also 400 times farther away. The Moon is approximately 240,000 miles from Earth, while the Sun is 93 million miles away. Yet from our view on Earth, the Sun and the Moon appear to be about the same angular size. This correspondence in apparent size is why we on Earth are able to experience solar eclipses. This type of eclipse (solar) is when the Moon passes exactly through our view toward the Sun, and it blocks the Sun’s light casting a shadow of darkness on Earth during the daytime.
When we consider this amazing event, we find Earth is the only planet where life can view a total solar eclipse. Mars is the only other terrestrial planet with moons. However, they are irregularly shaped and too small to eclipse the Sun. The Gas Giant planets cannot host life to view any possible eclipses. God’s design of the Earth-Moon-Sun system includes the precise correspondence necessary for such a rare and unique event to occur. Humanity has made use of eclipses throughout history to mark time and probe further the details of the Sun and Moon.

Tolerance, Diversity, and Division by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Tolerance, Diversity, and Division

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

One of the “big myths” of society that surely will go down in history as a significant contributor to the moral decline of America is the incessant clamor by liberals for “tolerance” and “diversity.” They insist that those who oppose same-sex marriage are “intolerant” and lack basic human “compassion.” They maintain that “diversity” and “tolerance” (code words for acceptance of homosexuality) are healthy for society, and that those who oppose homosexuality are merely “demonizing people for political advantage” and “perpetuating division” (Obama, 2004).
Satan is slick. He uses “devices,” “wiles,” and “snares” (2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:26) to distort people’s thinking. He is a shrewd master of advancing his agenda by disguising the immoral with a righteous veneer. If people give in to emotional impulse, rather than thinking rationally, logically, and biblically, they will swallow the propaganda and embrace Satan’s ploys.
The fallacy of such “reasoning” is made apparent when placed in syllogistic form:
1. Everyone should be compassionate, tolerant, and accepting of diversity;
2. Homosexuality is one form of diversity;
3. Therefore, homosexuality should be accepted/approved; to fail to do so is intolerant and divisive.
Few would disagree with the first premise. The Bible clearly teaches that God loves every person, and He requires Christians to do the same. However, toleration cannot and must not extend to any practice, action, or behavior that is evil, immoral, and sinful, i.e., out of harmony with God’s will.
Using the above line of reasoning, the tolerance/diversity umbrella ought logically to apply to pedophilia, necrophilia, incest, bestiality, and every other aberrant sexual behavior. Similarly, the same principle ought to apply to murder, stealing, drug dealing, and every other illegal action. Are we simply to cancel all laws in the United States that govern human behavior—on the guise that to enforce them is “intolerant”? Are we to open the doors of all the prisons in the country and free the criminals—on the grounds that to fail to do so is to “perpetuate division”? By such foolish thinking, placing anyone in prison constitutes a lack of “compassion.”
The tolerance/diversity viewpoint is completely nonsensical. If applied consistently and thoroughly, it would lead to social anarchy, rampant lawlessness, and the destruction of society. Opposing homosexuality, abortion, and a host of other social and moral evils is not incompatible with compassion and tolerance. One can oppose and punish murder while still maintaining compassion for the murderer. The overarching, governing principle is the recognition of and submission to the absolute standard of morality given to the human race by the God of the Bible—the God who is love (1 John 4:16). Those who reject that standard, thereby elevating their own fleshly appetites above the transcendent Creator, one day will face the consequences: “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). Those who consider themselves more tolerant and compassionate than God need a healthy dose of humility to alter their skewed perspective:
Thus says the Lord: “Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist,” says the Lord. “But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word(Isaiah 66:1-2, emp. added).
May we be among “those that tremble at the commandment of our God” (Ezra 10:3).


Obama, Barack (2004), “Obama on Marriage,” Windy City Times, November 2, [On-line], URL: “http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php?AID=4018.

The Da Vinci Code and the Uniqueness of Christ by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


The Da Vinci Code and the Uniqueness of Christ

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Among the many unsubstantiated accusations that author Dan Brown made in his bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code is one regarding the “unoriginality” of Christianity. Allegedly, “Nothing in Christianity is original” (Brown, 2003, p. 232). As “proof” of this statement, Brown’s fictional character, Sir Leigh Teabing, asserts:
“The pre-Christian God Mithras—called the Son of God and the Light of the World—was born on December 25, died, and was buried in a rock tomb, and then resurrected in three days. By the way, December 25 is also the birthday of Osiris, Adonis, and Dionysus. The newborn Krishna was presented with gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Even Christianity’s weekly holy day was stolen from the pagans” (p. 232, italics in orig.).
Supposedly, the Gospel was nothing new 2,000 years ago when Jesus was born into the world. Stories that resemble “the Good News of Jesus” circulated centuries earlier. Pagans had previously worshipped and idolized god-like heroes who in some ways resembled Christ.
How can Christianity be “original” if stories that predate the time of Christ speak of gods who were born on December 25, presented with gold, frankincense, and myrrh, called the Son of God and Light of the World, and buried and raised only a few days after their deaths? As with so many things in The Da Vinci Code, this accusation is erroneous and terribly misleading.
First of all, the Bible nowhere indicates that Jesus was born on December 25. There are no Old Testament prophecies about Him being born on this date, nor does any New Testament writer suggest it. On the contrary, Luke hints that Jesus was most likely born in a month other than December. In chapter two of his gospel account, Luke wrote that Jesus was born when shepherds were “living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night” (2:8). It is highly unlikely that shepherds would have been “living out in the fields” with their sheep during the winter months. “Jews sent out their flocks into the mountainous and desert regions during the summer months, and took them up in the latter part of October or the first of November, when the cold weather commenced” (Barnes, 1997). Late December simply was not a time when flocks were in the fields at night. Thus, as Adam Clarke concluded, “On this very ground the nativity in December should be given up” (1996).
The early church did not celebrate “Christmas” on December 25, since the inspired apostles and prophets never commanded its observance as a religious holy day. “Christmas” was not observed until the fourth century A.D. (see “Christmas,” 1997, 3:283), and even then it was most likely adopted “to coincide with the pagan Roman festival marking the ‘birthday of the unconquered sun’” (“Christmas,” 3:283). In short, a December 25 “holy day” originated as a pagan feast, and true Christianity is not connected to this date in any way. Thus, the fact that history records stories of mythical gods being born on December 25 in no way diminishes the deity, superiority, or virgin birth of Christ.
Second, similarities between Christ and the stories of mythical hero “savior-gods” from the past are to be expected. Centuries before the time of Christ prophets foretold of the coming Savior of mankind Who would be “from everlasting” (Micah 5:2), yet enter the world miraculously by being born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14). He would be of royal blood (Isaiah 9:6-7), reign over a kingdom (Psalm 110:1-2) that will never be destroyed (Daniel 2:44), and wear names such as “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Finally, at His death He would be pierced (Zechariah 12:10), and yet His body would not see corruption (Psalm 16:10), i.e., He would be raised from the dead. Considering prophecies about the coming Messiah were being foretold since “the foundation of the world (i.e., since the fall of man—Genesis 3:15; cf. Luke 11:49-51) to both Jews and Gentiles (see Lyons, 2004), stories of various “savior-gods” who might sound similar to the true Messiah are to be expected. [NOTE: For further information, see Butt and Lyons, 2006, pp. 35-74.]
Third, although there are some parallels between the Gospel of Jesus and the “hero-god” stories that circulated centuries before Christ came to Earth, many of these professed similarities are untrue. For example, in hopes of casting doubt on the story of Jesus, Dan Brown asserted that, like Jesus, Krishna was presented with gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Yet, according to Amy Welborn, “There is not a single story in actual Hindu mythology of Krishna being presented with gold, frankincense, and myrrh at his birth” (2004, p. 87). Brown may well have obtained this information regarding Krishna from Kersey Graves’ 1875 book The World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviors. Not surprising, neither Brown nor Graves provided any documentation for their comparisons. Furthermore, as Carl Olson and Sandra Miesel observed: “The stories of Krishna’s childhood recorded in the Harivamsa Purana (c. A.D. 300) and the Bhagavata Purana (c. A.D. 800-900) don’t mention gifts at all. Even if they did, these latter works were written after the first century, making Graves’ claim absurd” (2004).
Finally, Christianity’s weekly “holy day” was not “stolen” from pagans. Since there are only seven days in a week, there was a one in seven chance that Christians would assemble on someone’s “holy day.” If Jesus had been raised on Saturday, and Christians assembled for worship on the seventh day rather than the first day, the Jews would have cried foul play. Were early Christians to meet on Monday, they may have been accused of worshiping the moon. In truth, Christians have been meeting on the first day of the week to worship God for 2,000 years because God set aside this day for us to worship Him, including eating the memorial feast (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 11:17-26). Christians know nothing of Sun-worship, but much of Son-worship. As Tertullian wrote 1,800 years ago in his “Apology,” Christians “devote Sun-day to rejoicing” for a “far different reason than Sun-worship” (XVI). To say that Christians “stole” their “holy day” from the pagans is an outright lie.
Sadly, Satan has used The Da Vinci Code and other popular writings and movies to deceive millions of people about the uniqueness of Christ and the originality of Christianity. Thankfully, however, even Satan cannot stop the power of the Gospel (Romans 1:16) from pricking the hearts of those who are open to the Truth (Matthew 13:1-23; cf. Acts 2:36-37; 16:14). May God help us all to distinguish between Truth and error, and obey that which God’s Truth teaches.


Barnes, Albert (1997), Barnes’ Notes (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Brown, Dan (2003), The Da Vinci Code (New York: Doubleday).
Butt, Kyle and Eric Lyons (2006), Behold! The Lamb of God (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
“Christmas” (1997), The New Encyclopaedia Britannica (Chicago: Encyclopaedia Brittannica).
Clarke, Adam (1996), Adam Clarke’s Commentary (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Lyons, Eric (2004), “Resurrected ‘Savior-Gods’ and the Prophets of Old,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2858.
Olson, Carl E. and Sandra Miesel (2004), “A Da Vinci De-Coder,” [On-line], URL: http://www.carl-olson.com/articles/tca_tdvc_apr04.html.
Tertullian (1973 reprint), “Apology,” The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Welborn, Amy (2004), De-coding Da Vinci: The Facts Behind the Fiction of The Da Vinci Code(United States: Our Sunday Visitor).

Ancient Nitwits or Knowledgeable Ancestors? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Ancient Nitwits or Knowledgeable Ancestors?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Were our forefathers the ignorant, unlearned nitwits that many evolutionists today make them out to be? Did they resemble the brutish, club-carrying cavemen that Hollywood movies show—savages who communicated by using grunts and groans rather than real language? Absolutely not!
Research shows that many of our ancestors were very intelligent. Take, for instance, the ancient Egyptians. More than 4,000 years ago, they built great pyramid-shaped “tombs” in which to bury their dead kings. One of these tombs, known as the Great Pyramid, stood nearly 500 feet high (almost as tall as the Washington Monument—the tallest stone structure in the world!) The Great Pyramid was made of over two million blocks of stone that had to be cut, transported, and assembled to create the almost six-million-ton structure. To this day, modern man still does not know exactly how the Egyptians built these great pyramids.
The ancient Mayans are another example of our “finely tuned” forefathers. More than one thousand years before astronomers found that the length of a year was precisely 365.2422 days, the Mayans (without computers or modern measuring devices) calculated it to be 365.2420 days long. They also figured the orbit of Venus to be 584 days, when current science shows it at 583.92 days. Without question, the Mayans were an intelligent people.
As you would expect, the Bible verifies these types of historical facts. By reading just the first six chapters of Genesis, we learn that: (1) Adam was created with the ability to speak a language (naming all of the animals God brought to him the very day of his creation—2:19); (2) Jubal, one of Cain’s descendents, “was the father of all those who play the harp and flute” (4:21); (3) Tubal-Cain, Jubal’s half-brother, formed tools out of bronze and iron (4:22); and (4) Noah built an ark bigger than many modern-day cruise ships. Furthermore, Job chapter 28 indicates that our early forefathers were capable of tunneling through rock, and mining precious metals from deep within the Earth. All of these things were accomplished without modern-day power tools or lightening-fast computers.
Truth be told, our ancestors were no dummies; man has been intelligent since the beginning of time. God made us that way. He created us in His own image (Genesis 1:26-27), and crowned us with glory and honor (Psalm 8:5).

Can a Person Live in Adultery? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Can a Person Live in Adultery?

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Confusion exists in the mind of some concerning the status of those who commit the sin of adultery. It is generally recognized that a couple becomes guilty of adultery when they form a sexual relationship in violation of Christ’s teaching in Matthew 19:9. But what is a church to do when one or both of those marriage partners present themselves for church membership, expressing their regret for their sin, but their intention to continue their relationship? Some argue that the couple can be forgiven, if they say they are sorry, on the grounds that people cannot live in adultery. They were guilty of committing adultery when they first came together, but they cannot be guilty of living (in an ongoing state) in adultery, and so may continue their marriage without being guilty of further sin.
Meanwhile, the church tends to shy away from dealing with the matter, permitting the couple fellowship but, amid vague feelings of uncertainty, keeping them at arm’s length. In the midst of this inconsistency, the church unwittingly brings itself under the same indictment leveled at the churches in Pergamum (Revelation 2:14) and Thyatira (Revelation 2:20-22) for their unholy “tolerance.” We must permit God’s words to give us guidance rather than be influenced by our human inclinations, sympathies, or emotions. God’s Word speaks very clearly to this matter.
It is true that sin may be viewed as the practice of isolated acts that are contrary to God’s will. But it does not follow that individuals cannot live in sin. A “liar” is one who is involved in separate acts of lying. What makes him a liar, and therefore guilty of living a life of lying, is his refusal to cease telling lies. A person is a “murderer” if he has killed one or more persons and continues to entertain the possibility of repeating such behavior. A person is an “adulterer” because he has formed a sexual relationship which violates God’s law and refuses to cease that illicit relationship. Simply saying he is sorry for the existence of this adulterous union will not and cannot alter what, in God’s sight, is “not lawful” (Matthew 14:4). As long as that marriage is continued, the parties involved are adulterers (Romans 7:3). Only by terminating that relationship can the parties involved put an end to their adultery. Otherwise, they “continue to commit adultery” (Matthew 19:9—the present tense continuous action), “live in fornication” (Colossians 3:5-7), and “live in [sin]” (Romans 6:2). When Paul reminded Christians at Corinth of their conversion day, he noted that some had previously been fornicators, adulterers, and homosexuals (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Who could possibly doubt the fact that their salvation would have been impossible unless these sexual unions were terminated? Indeed, how could they “that are dead to sin, live any longer therein” (Romans 6:2)?

Believing What Jesus Believed by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Believing What Jesus Believed

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

It has become increasingly popular to accept certain parts of the Bible and to reject other parts. Such amazing events as the miracle of Creation, Jonah’s being swallowed by a sea creature, and the Flood of Noah often are brushed aside as mere myth, while more “credible” things such as the teachings of Jesus are accepted as fact. Although this line of reasoning might have some initial appeal to our “enlightened” society that rejects biblical miracles off hand, it contains a major flaw. When the teachings of Jesus are analyzed, it can be shown that Jesus Himself believed and taught the Old Testament stories that some label as myth.
For instance, the story of Jonah has come under attack due to its extraordinary details. According to the Old Testament Scriptures, God’s prophet Jonah disobeyed the Lord and was swallowed by a great sea creature. For three days, he dwelt as a damp denizen of that creature’s belly, until finally he was vomited onto the land and given another chance to obey God. To certain scholars, the story of Jonah finds a place in the Scriptures, not as a factual narrative of a specific historical account, but as a myth or allegory. What did Jesus believe about the story of Jonah? His sentiments in this regard were emphatically stated.
Then certain of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, Teacher, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given it but the sign of Jonah the prophet: for as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh shall stand up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, a greater than Jonah is here (Matthew 12:38-41).
Quite clearly, Jesus accepted the story of Jonah as an accurate description of a real, historical event. He included not only the fact that Jonah spent three days in the belly of the fish, but also affirmed that the city of Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah. If the story of Jonah were simply an allegory or myth, Jesus’ entire point about being in the belly of the Earth for as long as Jonah was in the belly of the fish would be weakened to the point of ridiculousness. For, if Jonah wasn’t ever really in the belly of the fish, then what would that say about the Son of Man actually being in the belly of the Earth?
Another story endorsed by Christ is the formation of man and woman at the beginning of Creation. Some scholars, in an attempt to find a compromise between the Bible and organic evolution, have postulated that the Creation account of Genesis need not be taken literally, and that room can be found in Genesis to accommodate the idea that humans evolved gradually in Earth’s recent past. What did Jesus say about this idea?
During His earthly sojourn, Christ spoke explicitly regarding Creation. In Mark 10:6, for example, He declared: “But from the beginning of the creation, male and female made he them.” Note these three paramount truths: (1) The first couple was “made”; they were not biological accidents. Interestingly, the verb “made” in the Greek is in the aorist tense, implying point action, rather than progressive development (which would be characteristic of evolutionary activity). W.E. Vine made this very observation with reference to the composition of the human body in his comments on 1 Corinthians 12:18 (1951, p. 173). (2) The original pair was fashioned “male and female”; they were not initially an asexual “blob” that eventually experienced sexual diversion. (3) Adam and Eve existed “from the beginning of the creation.” The Greek word for “beginning” is arché, and is used of “absolute, denoting the beginning of the world and of its history, the beginning of creation.” The Greek word for “creation” is ktiseos, and denotes the “sum-total of what God has created” (Cremer, 1962, pp. 113,114,381, emp. in orig.). Christ certainly did not subscribe to the notion that the Earth is millions or billions of years older than humanity.
Accepting the testimony of Jesus Christ further demands that the global Flood of Noah be taken as a literal, historic event. The Lord Himself addressed the topic of the great Flood in Luke 17:26-30 (cf. Matthew 24:39) when He drew the following parallel:
And as it came to pass in the days of Noah, even so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise even as it came to pass in the days of Lot; they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but in the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all: after the same manner shall it be in the day that the Son of man is revealed (emp. added).
The Lord depicted an impending doom that was to befall the Jews of His day who would not heed the Word of God. For the purpose of this article, however, note the context in which Jesus discussed the Flood destruction of Genesis 6-8. He placed the Flood alongside the destruction of Sodom, and He also placed it alongside the destruction of the ungodly at His Second Coming. John Whitcomb correctly noted that the word “all” must refer to the totality of people on the entire Earth in Noah’s day, and in Sodom during Lot’s time. Jesus’ argument would be weakened considerably if some of the people on the Earth, besides Noah’s family, escaped the Flood, or if certain Sodomites survived the fiery destruction sent from Heaven (1973, pp. 21-22). It is evident from the text that Jesus affirmed that the same number of ungodly sinners who escaped the Flood will be the same number of disobedient people who escape destruction at His Second Coming—none. From His remarks, one can clearly see that Jesus accepted the Genesis account of a global flood as a historical fact.
The sayings of Jesus contain numerous references to some of the Old Testament’s most extraordinary events. A person cannot consistently maintain a belief in Jesus and His teachings, while denying the details of the accounts that He endorsed as factual. The testimony of Jesus and the factual accuracy of the stories He commended stand together.


Cremer, H. (1962), Biblico-Theological Lexicon of New Testament Greek (London: T & T Clark).
Vine, W.E. (1951), First Corinthians (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Whitcomb, John C. (1973), The World That Perished (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).

Examining Premillennialism by Wayne Jackson


Examining Premillennialism
A flood of paperback books, advocating the theory of premillennialism, has invaded the religious market in recent years. One of the first widely-popular efforts was titled, The Late Great Planet Earth. It was authored by Hal Lindsey, a graduate of the school of theology at the Dallas Theological Seminary.
The thrust of Lindsey’s book is two-fold: First, it espouses the premillennial theory of Christ’s second coming. Second, it interprets present world political trends as signs of the imminent return of Jesus Christ.
A more recent production, advocating the same general theory, is the fictional Left Behind series. The popularity of this effort has enabled the originators to develop a parallel film series as well. No doubt, there is great interest in the religious world of end-time events.

The Issue Defined

The premillennial concept is the result of literalizing a few symbolic verses in the book of Revelation, coupled with a considerable disregard for scores of Bible passages of clearest import. The word “premillennial” itself is derived of two components—“pre” signifies before, and “millennium” denotes a period of one thousand years. The theory thus suggests that Christ will return to the earth just prior to a one-thousand-year reign.
The premillennial theory is advanced in several different ways. It is, therefore, not an easy task to generalize regarding this system of doctrine. We will focus mainly on that branch of millennialism that is known as dispensational premillennialism. The following quotations are introduced to bring some of the main points into focus:
It is held that the Old Testament prophets predicted the re-establishment of David’s kingdom and that Christ himself intended to bring this about. It is alleged however, that because the Jews refused his person and work he postponed the establishment of his kingdom until the time of his return. Meanwhile, it is argued, the Lord gathered together “the church” as a kind of interim measure (Kevan 1999, 352).
Generally, premillennialists believe that shortly before the second coming the world will be marked by extraordinary tribulation and evil and the appearance of the Anti-Christ. At his coming, Christ will destroy this anti-Christ and believers will be raised from the dead. There will then follow a millennium of peace and order over which Christ will reign with his saints. At the close of this time, Satan will be loosed and the forces of evil will once again be rampant. The wicked will then be raised, and a final judgment will take place in which Satan and all evil ones will be consigned to eternal punishment (Harvey 1964, 151).
For centuries the Jews have been scattered among many nations. In preparation for the return of Christ and the beginning of the millennium, they are being gathered back to their own land, according to prophecy, in a national restoration. David’s throne will be re-established at Jerusalem, and through these restored people as a nucleus Christ will reign with his immortal saints over the whole world (Nichols n.d., 279).
To summarize, the premillennial view asserts that Christ came to this earth for the purpose of setting up his kingdom. He was, however, surprisingly rejected by the Jews. Hence, he postponed the kingdom plans and set up the church instead—as sort of an emergency measure. When he returns, he allegedly will raise only the righteous dead, restore national Israel, sit upon David’s literal throne in Jerusalem, and then reign for a span of one thousand years—after which comes the resurrection of the wicked and the judgment.
One of the primary fallacies of the premillennial concept is a materialistic view of the reign of Christ. This same notion was entertained by the ancient Jews and actually was responsible for their rejection and crucifixion of the Messiah. The fact is, this mistaken Jewish expectation of a literal, material kingdom spawned the millennial doctrine that was taught in the early post-apostolic age. As one historian observed:
The idea of a millennial reign proceeded from Judaism, for among the Jews the representation was current, that the Messiah would reign a thousand years on earth, and then bring to a close the present terrestrial System. This calculation was arrived at, by a literal interpretation of Psalm 90:4, “A thousand years are in thy sight as one day.” It was further argued that as the World was created in six days, so it would last six thousand years, the seventh thousand would be a period of repose, a sabbath on Earth to be followed by the destruction of the World (Neander 1858, 248).
The necessary implications of the premillennial doctrine are grave indeed. This teaching strikes treacherously at numerous facets of Biblical truth. Let us consider some of these crucial matters.

Christ’s Rejection by the Jews

The premillennial view implies that the Jewish rejection of Christ was an unexpected miscarriage in the plans of God. Whereas, the truth is, his rejection was plainly foretold by the Old Testament prophets. Isaiah had prophetically asked, “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” (53:1).
In the New Testament, when describing the rebellion of the Jews, John wrote:
But though he had done so many signs before them, yet they believed not on him: that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? And to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? (John 12:37, 38).
Again, it was prophesied: “The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner” (Psalm 118:22; cf. Matthew 21:33-46).
Having been foretold centuries before, the Jewish rejection of Christ was no surprise.

Implications Regarding the Kingdom

Nothing in the Scriptures is any clearer than the fact that the kingdom of God was established shortly after the death of Christ. Note the following:

Daniel’s Prophecy

The prophet Daniel declared: “And in the days of those kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed” (2:44). The “kings” of the prophecy were Roman kings (the fourth part of the image of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream [2:31ff]). The Roman Empire came into dominance in 63 B.C. and it fell in A.D. 476; hence, it follows that the kingdom of God was established at some point between those two dates—or else Daniel was a false prophet! There is no evidence that the Roman Empire will be revived to accommodate Daniel’s prediction.
The assertion that the kingdom was not set up in the first century, but is yet to come, strikes at the very heart of the inspiration of the prophets.

John the Baptizer: “The Kingdom Is Near”

John the Baptizer, Jesus himself, and the twelve disciples all preached that the kingdom was “at hand,” literally meaning “is come near” (Matthew 3:2; 4:17; 10:7; cf. Luke 21:30 for the meaning of “at hand”). Thus, they preached the nearness of the kingdom of God, and such can scarcely be harmonized with the notion that it hasn’t come.
While it is true that the expression “at hand” can be used prophetically of that which is yet in the distant future, other contextual considerations—either immediate or remote—must indicate that fact. The term is used figuratively in James 5:8 to reflect an intense expectation—regardless of the time factor.

The Prophecy of Christ

Christ exclaimed:
Verily I say unto you, There are some here of them that stand by, who shall in no wise taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God come with power (Mark 9:1).
Either the kingdom came within the lifetime of those to whom he referred, or they are getting very old!
Observe, please: Jesus promised that the kingdom would come with power (Mark 9:1). But that power would accompany the reception of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). Thus, the kingdom would come with the arrival of the Spirit. But the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost—some fifty days after Christ’s death (Acts 2:4). Therefore, the kingdom was established at that time.

Peter Using the Keys of the Kingdom

On the day of Pentecost, the apostle Peter preached the inaugural discourse and thereby used one of “the keys of the kingdom” (Matthew 16:19) to admit the obedient into the church. If Peter used the kingdom’s key to open the church when they were not the same institution, he stands convicted of burglarizing the church of the Lord!

“Eating and Drinking in My Kingdom”

Shortly before his death, the Savior promised his disciples, “[Y]e may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom” (Luke 22:30). The Lord’s table was placed within the kingdom. If one can find disciples partaking of that table, it will be a demonstration of the kingdom’s existence.
When Paul wrote to the church at Corinth (1 Cor. 1:2), he rebuked them for their perversion in partaking of the “table of the Lord” (10:21); it thus is evident that the Corinthian Christians were in the kingdom.

Translated into the Kingdom

When Paul wrote to the Colossians, he affirmed that God “delivered us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love” (1:13). The term “translated” (methistemi) means to “remove from one place to another” (Arndt and Gingrich 1967, 500). The tense of the verb reveals that their entrance into the kingdom had already occurred at some point in the past.

Made to Be a kingdom

When John wrote to “the seven churches that are in Asia” (Revelation 1:4), he stated that Christ had loosed them from their sins by his blood and made them “to be a kingdom” (1:6). Further, he was with them in that kingdom (1:9).
How could such have been if the kingdom had been postponed?

The New Birth into the Kingdom

The existence of God’s kingdom on earth is further demonstrated by the fact that the same process which moves one into the kingdom also puts him into the church. Jesus taught that the “new birth,” consisting of being born of “water and the Spirit,” enables one to “enter the kingdom” (John 3:5). This is simply receiving the Spirit’s message (the gospel) and being baptized in water—the very thing which puts one into the “one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13), which is the church (Colossians 1:18). Hence, to enter the church is equal to becoming a citizen of the kingdom.
The doctrine that the kingdom was postponed because of the Jews’ rejection of Christ is not in harmony with the Scriptures.

Implications Regarding the Church

The claim that the church was set up as an interim measure due to Christ’s postponement of the kingdom actually suggests the idea that the church is but an accident which was no part of God’s original plan.
One could scarcely exaggerate the error in this proposition. The Bible clearly teaches that “the manifold wisdom of God” is made known “through the church,” and this was “according to the eternal purpose [plan] which he purposed in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 3:10-11). Hence, the church was in God’s plan from eternity.
Further, the death of Christ was known before the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:19-20; Revelation 13:8), and the shed blood of that death “purchased the church” (Acts 20:28). If the death of Christ was known for ages, it is certain that the result of that death was known as well—namely, the establishment of the church.
Actually, the church is simply a body of baptized believers who have been saved from their past sins (Acts 2:38; 1 Corinthians 12:13). The church is the saved! (Ephesians 5:23). If the church is but an accident, that implies an accidental salvation!
That the church was a part of God’s original plan for human redemption is further seen in the types of the Mosaic age. The tabernacle (specifically the holy place) and subsequently the temple were types of the church (1 Corinthians 3:16; Ephesians 2:21; Hebrews 9:9). These Old Testament symbols pictured the church’s future establishment and its integral part in the plan of Jehovah.

God’s Promise to Abraham

The doctrine of premillennialism asserts that God unconditionally promised Canaan to the descendants of Abraham. Further, it is contended that the promise has never been completely granted; hence, the claim is made that the Jews eventually will be restored to Palestine in order that the Abrahamic covenant might be fulfilled. Indeed, some are declaring that, with the establishment of Israel as an independent government in 1948, the Jewish restoration was begun, and this is a signal of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. Again, we must kindly note that this notion is not consistent with biblical teaching.
Concerning Canaan, Jehovah promised Abraham, “Unto thy seed will I give this land” (Genesis 12:7). This land-covenant with the patriarch involved all that land “from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates” (15:18), and it was pledged to his seed “for ever” (13:15).
Several questions here are of great concern:
  • Was the promise ever totally fulfilled?
  • What is the meaning of “for ever”?
  • Was the promise in any sense conditional?

Was the Promise Ever Totally Fulfilled?

An understanding of these queries is crucial to this discussion. Note the following:
When the law of Moses was given, provision was made for the establishment of cities of refuge where the manslayer who had killed without premeditation might flee for the preservation of his life. Initially, three cities were to be set aside for this purpose. Moses declared, however:
[I]f Jehovah thy God enlarge thy border, as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, and give thee all the land which he promised to give unto thy fathers; if thou shalt keep all his commandment to do it, which I command thee this day, to love Jehovah thy God, and to walk ever in his ways; then shalt thou add three cities more for thee, besides these three (Deuteronomy 19:8-9).
Thus, six cities of refuge would be evidence of the substantial fulfillment of the land promise to Abraham’s seed.
A reading of Joshua 20:7-8 reveals that the cities of Kedesh, Shechem, Hebron, Bezer, Ramoth, and Golan were assigned as havens of refuge—six cities. Thus, “all the land” had been given; the land covenant has been fulfilled! This is further demonstrated by Joshua 21:43—“So Jehovah gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein.”
This refers principally to Canaan. There was to be some expansion later. Scripture specifically states of Solomon’s time:
And Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the River [Euphrates] unto the land of the Philistines, and unto the border of Egypt (1 Kings 4:21; 2 Chronicles 9:26).
Finally, Nehemiah rehearses the fact that God brought Abraham from Ur of Chaldees to give him the land of Canaan, and, says he, you “have performed your words: for you art righteous” (9:7-8). It is tragic that the premillennial theory implies the opposite.

What Is the Meaning of “For Ever”?

But millennialists contend that Palestine was promised to Israel “for ever” (Genesis 13:15). This fails to recognize, of course, that the term “for ever” is not always used in the Bible in a completely unlimited sense.
For instance, circumcision was an “everlasting covenant” (Genesis 17:13); the Passover was an ordinance “for ever” (Exodus 12:14); and the Levitical system had an “everlasting priesthood” (Numbers 25:13). These Old Testament institutions, however, passed away with the abrogation of the law, thus demonstrating that “for ever” sometimes has a temporary significance.

Was the Promise Conditional?

The truth of the matter is, the Old Testament clearly indicates that Israel’s possession of Palestine was conditioned upon their faithfulness to God—a condition which they violated repeatedly; hence, it was foretold:
When ye transgress the covenant of Jehovah your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods, and bow down yourselves to them: then will the anger of Jehovah be kindled against you, and ye shall perish quickly from off the good land which he hath given unto you (Joshua 23:16).
That time eventually came, and the Jews lost their “deed” to the Promised Land!

Jeremiah’s Visual Aid

In the nineteenth chapter of the book that bears his name, the prophet Jeremiah was instructed of Jehovah: “Go, and buy a potter’s earthen bottle.” Subsequently, he was told to go to the valley of Hinnom and prophesy to the inhabitants of Jerusalem concerning their sins and their eventual destruction.
As a symbol of this promised punishment, Jeremiah was commanded to “break the bottle” and to proclaim its meaning.
Even so will I break this people and this city, as one breaketh a potter’s vessel, that cannot be made whole again (v. 11).
This prophecy was partially fulfilled with a siege of the Babylonians in 586 B.C. (2 Kings 25), but was completely and ultimately fulfilled with the destruction of national Israel by the Romans in A.D. 70 (see Clarke n.d., 305).
After the Jewish nation was destroyed, it was so permanently scattered by the providence of God that it cannot be made whole again. Regardless of the fact that some Jews are migrating back to Palestine, they will never be restored as God’s nation!

The Pronouncement of Christ

Further evidence that national Israel will never be restored is found within the teaching of Christ himself.
In Matthew 21, Jesus told what is called the parable of the wicked husbandmen, the design of which was to emphasize how wretchedly the Jews had treated God’s prophets, such rebellion reaching its zenith with the crucifixion of Christ. Because of their rejection of Jehovah’s precious stone, the Lord said to the Jews:
Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God [i.e., their reign as God’s special people] shall be taken away from you, and shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof (v. 43).
The inspired apostle Peter unquestionably declares that the “nation” to be henceforth so blessed is God’s “holy nation,” the church (1 Peter 2:7-10). The Bible is exceedingly clear: Christians are the seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:26-29), the “Israel of God” (6:16).

Restoration Proof Texts

The millennialist purports to have a whole repertoire of proof texts to substantiate his claim of Israel’s restoration. An examination of several of them will reveal misappropriation of the Word of God.
It is argued Isaiah 2:2-4 will be fulfilled with the establishment of the “millennial kingdom.”
And it shall come to pass in the latter days, that the mountain of Jehovah’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many peoples shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem. And he will judge between the nations, and will decide concerning many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
Actually, it is a prophecy of the establishment of the church, which is the house under consideration (cf. 1 Timothy 3:15). This was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), which was the beginning of the “last days” (Acts 2:16-17).
The truth is, if there is a dispensation yet to come, namely the millennium, then Peter was wrong, and we are not in the last days but in the next-to-the-last-days. Isaiah 2:4 does not predict a time of universal world peace, rather, it characterizes the peaceful disposition of those formerly hostile nations which “flow unto” the house of God.
In 11:1-16, Isaiah prophesies regarding Christ (vv. 1-5) and the establishment of his divine government in the church. Again, the peaceful atmosphere thereof is beautifully described (vv. 6-9) as being in God’s “holy mountain” which is the church (Daniel 2:35, 44). And to cinch the matter, verse ten is quoted in the New Testament (Romans 15:12) by an inspired writer and shown to be applicable to the reception of the Gentile nations into the church.
To suggest that it applies to some future age is to totally disregard the inspired interpretation of the prophecy and to reflect upon the credibility of a New Testament writer.
Hosea’s prophecies (2:14-23; 3:5) are frequently said to point to Israel’s restoration in the “millennium.”
Again, however, an inspired New Testament writer says otherwise. Paul quotes Hosea 2:23 and 1:10 in his letter to the Romans (9:25-26) and thereby shows that the restoration foretold by Hosea was of a spiritual nature, including both Jews and Gentiles. Such is accomplished in the church.
Hosea 3:5 speaks of Israel returning and seeking Jehovah and “David their king” (certainly not David literally) “in the latter days.” This is another indication that the Christian era, the reign of Christ, is in view (cf. Luke 1:32-33; Acts 2:30-36; 2:16-17; see Laetsch 1956, 40).
Amos 9:11-15 is a favorite Old Testament prophesy of the premillennialists. C. I. Scofield, alluding to James’ citation of this passage in Acts 15, called this “the most important passage in the N.T.” for dispensationalists (1945, 1169). It is argued that the rebuilding of the “tabernacle of David” refers to the restoration of national Judaism in the “millennium,” at which time Solomon’s temple literally will be rebuilt and the Jewish economy reinstated.
In Acts 15, a question was raised among the early disciples as to whether Gentiles were obligated to circumcision. Peter, who had preached first to the Gentiles, denied such.
James utters an inspired oracle corroborating Peter, and in connection he cites the words of Amos concerning the rebuilding of the tabernacle of David. The rebuilding of David’s tabernacle was the enthronement of Christ and the establishment of his church! And a part of this design was that the Gentiles might have the privilege of seeking the Lord. It thus would follow, if the tabernacle of David is yet in the future (as premillennialists contend), that all Gentiles are still lost! (Acts 15:16-17).
The claim that Judaism will someday be restored, in view of the books of Galatians and Hebrews, is, quite honestly, absolutely incredible.
There are, of course, many additional prophecies which, according to the premillennialists, predict Israel’s restoration; but none of these demonstrate a restoration of national Israel in a future millennium. It may be suggested, in summation, that the Old Testament prophecies which speak of a restoration for Israel pertain either to:
  1. a return to Palestine from the confines of the Babylonian Captivity (605-536 B.C.), in the time of Cyrus of Persia (cf. 2 Chronicles 36:22-23)—for example, a number of passages in the books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel are of this nature; or,
  2. the restoration of Israel to Jehovah’s favor spiritually through the church. Peter affirmed that a major thrust of Old Testament prophecy was concerning salvation, which “the prophets sought and searched diligently,” and which has now been announced through the preaching of the gospel (1 Peter 1:9-12).

The Throne of David

The premillenial doctrine virtually ignores the spiritual emphasis of Old Testament prophecy. It holds that Christ will return to this earth to be seated on the literal throne of David in Jerusalem. The underlying fallacy of this view is its materialistic approach to the reign of Christ.
The Lord’s kingdom is not a worldly, political economy, as was David’s, for Jesus plainly said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Remarkably, the premillennialists contend it will be.
Isaiah prophesied that Christ would be heir to the throne of David.
Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from henceforth even for ever (Isaiah 9:7).
Additionally, the angel Gabriel informed Mary concerning her expected Son:
He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end (Luke 1:32-33).
The question is not whether Christ was to sit on the throne of David; the controversy is concerning the nature of that throne—i.e., was it to be a material throne, or was it to be the spiritual throne of David?
That Christ’s reign on the throne of David is of a heavenly, spiritual nature is manifestly evident from the following considerations:
The last king to reign on the Davidic throne of the Old Testament era was Jehoiachin (also known as Jeconiah, or in an abbreviated form, Coniah). In Jeremiah 22:24-30, it was prophesied that he and his seed (Judah) would be delivered into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar and cast into a foreign land (Babylon). Specifically, concerning Coniah it was said:
Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days; for no more shall a man of his seed prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling in Judah (v. 30).
The issue is clear: no descendant of Coniah would ever again prosper, ruling from the literal throne of David. Now, the fact is, Christ was of the “seed” of Jechoniah, both from a legal standpoint (through Joseph [Matthew 1:12, 16]) and from a physical vantage point (through Mary, via Shealtiel [Luke 3:27]). It thus follows that Christ could never reign on David’s earthly throne—and prosper!
The prophet Zechariah prophesied regarding the Christ thusly:
Behold, the man whose name is the Branch: and he shall grow up out of his place; and he shall build the temple of Jehovah; even he shall build the temple of Jehovah; and he shall bear the glory, and he shall sit and rule upon his throne; and be shall be a priest upon his throne; and the counsel of peace shall be between them both (6:12-13).
This passage positively affirms that Christ would function as priest and reign as king on his throne—simultaneously. But, according to Hebrews 8:4, Christ could not act in the role of a priest while on the earth—for he was not descended from the priestly tribe (Hebrews 7:14). Since the Lord could not be a priest on earth, and since he is priest and king jointly, it necessarily follows that his reign as king cannot be earthly in nature. Rather, it is heavenly.
The heavenly nature of the reign of Christ is readily apparent in that narrative known as the parable of the pounds, recorded in Luke 19:11-27. The parable involves a certain nobleman (Christ) who went into a far country (heaven) to receive a kingdom and to return. Some citizens, however, sent a message to him, saying, “We will not that this man reign over us.” Finally, having received the kingdom, the nobleman returns to render judgment.
From this account it is perfectly clear that:
  1. the kingdom was received in heaven (not on earth);
  2. the reign was from heaven (not from Jerusalem); and
  3. the return of the nobleman was after the reception of the kingdom (not prior to it).
All of these facts are strikingly at variance with the premillennial concept.
King David was informed by the prophet Nathan:
When thy days are fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, that shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my time, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever (2 Samuel 7:12-13).
That this is a prediction of the reign of Christ upon David’s throne is beyond question. In view of this promise, David was told: “[Y]our throne shall be established for ever” (2 Samuel 7:16). Note the application of this context to Christ by an inspired New Testament writer (Hebrews 1:8).
It is extremely significant to note in this connection that Christ is to be seated on David’s throne, over his kingdom, while this illustrious Old Testament king is still asleep with the fathers, i.e., in the grave. In glaring contrast to this, the premillenial notion contends that Christ will sit upon David’s throne after the resurrection of all the righteous—including David.
In harmony with the foregoing is Peter’s declaration:
Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. And so, because he was a prophet, and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants upon his throne, he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ (Acts 2:29-31, NASB).
Of special importance here is the infinitive “to seat,” suggesting the design of Christ’s resurrection. As N. B. Hardeman so wonderfully expressed it:
[G]rammatically, “to sit” is an infinitive with the construction of an adverb, carrying the idea of purpose equivalent to the following expanded form, viz.; He raised up Christ that He should sit, that He might sit, for the purpose of sitting upon David’s throne. If Christ is not on David’s throne, the resurrection might have been deferred until this good hour, or for ages yet to come (1928, 37).
The reign of Christ on David’s throne is not an event awaiting future fulfillment. The Son of God has been reigning over his kingdom since the day of Pentecost. Hear his promise to early saints:
He that overcometh, I will give to him to sit down with me in my throne, as I also overcame, and sat down with my Father in his throne (Revelation 3:21).
Notice the past tense “sat down.” Clearly, Christ is now on the throne.
If it be contended that this passage speaks of Christ on the Father’s throne and not David’s, it need only be replied that the Father’s throne and David’s are biblically the same. Solomon sat upon the throne of David (1 Kings 2:12), which was in reality Jehovah’s throne (1 Chronicles 29:23). Hence, when Christ sat down on the Father’s throne, he was on the throne of David! He is presently reigning and will continue such until all his enemies are destroyed, the last of which will be death (1 Corinthians 15:25-26).
To speak of Christ on David’s throne is simply to affirm that our Lord has “all authority”; that to him has been given “all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion” (Ephesians 1:21); indeed, that he exercises a regal reign characteristic of the great King that he is. Compare Matthew 23:2, where the authority of the scribes and Pharisees who taught the law is symbolically described as sitting on “Moses’ seat.”

The Resurrection

Based mostly upon a misunderstanding of Revelation 20:1-6 (to be discussed later), premillennialists urge that there will be two resurrections of the dead. The first will occur at the time of Christ’s coming and will consist of the righteous only. Following this, it is contended, will be the one-thousand-year reign of Christ on earth. Terminating this will be the second resurrection (of the wicked) followed by the judgment.
There is no real support for this view; in fact, it contradicts numerous verses of clearest meaning. The Scriptures teach that when the Lord Jesus comes:
  • time will end;
  • all of the dead will be raised at the same time;
  • the judgment will occur;
  • eternity will commence.
Consider the following:

The End

In 1 Corinthians 15:23, Paul speaks of the “coming” of Christ. With reference to that event, he says, “Then cometh the end” (v. 24). It is obvious that the return of Christ is not to begin an earthly reign; rather, it will bring an end to earthly affairs! Some contend that the adverb “then” (Greek eita) demands an interval which allows time for a millennium. Such is not the case, however. Note the use of eita in connection with eutheos (“immediately”) in Mark 4:17.

The Day

Jesus spoke of “the day” in which he would be revealed, i.e., the day of his coming. In presenting this truth, the Lord referred to two divine destructions of former ages (see Luke 17:26-30). Observe that on “the day” that Noah entered the ark, the antediluvian world was destroyed. Further, in “the day” that Lot departed Sodom, the people of the plain cities were destroyed.
So also, contends Christ, “in like manner shall it be in the day that the Son of man is revealed.” The clear implication of this passage is that the wicked will be destroyed in “the day” of Christ’s coming; certainly there is no room for a thousand-year interval here (cf. Matthew 13:40, 49; 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).

The Hour

Marvel not at this: for the hour cometh, in which all that are in the tombs shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment (John 5:28-29).
This passage thoroughly negates the two-resurrections theory. Professor David Brown wrote: “It is hardly possible to conceive a plainer statement of the simultaneousness of the resurrection of both classes” (1882, 190).
See also Acts 24:15, where Paul makes it clear that there “shall be a resurrection [singular] both of the just and unjust.” Thus, a single resurrection involving two groups.
Certainly there are contexts in which only the resurrection of the righteous is under consideration (cf. John 6:54; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, etc.); but these do not cancel the plain force of verses affirming a general resurrection.
Additionally, the symbolic language of the book of Revelation (20:1-6) must be brought into harmony with these literal New Testament declarations of the coming of Christ, the resurrection, and the judgment. It most definitely is not a sound hermeneutical principle to force numerous lucid verses into harmony with a solitary symbolic reference.

What about Revelation 20:1-6?

The twentieth chapter of the book of Revelation, verses one through six, is the very heart and soul of the theory of premillennialism. It is what George Murray calls “the very citadel and bulwark of premillennial eschatology” (1948, 175). Indeed, it may be said, were it not for these half dozen verses, the theory would not even have a semblance of suggestion in the New Testament.
As Albert Barnes observes:
It is admitted, on all hands, that this doctrine, if contained in the Scriptures at all, is found in this one passage only. It is not pretended that there is, in any other place, a direct affirmation that this will literally occur, nor would the advocates for that opinion undertake to show that it is fairly implied in any other part of the Bible. But it is strange, not to say improbable, that the doctrine of the literal resurrection of the righteous, a thousand years before the wicked, should be announced in one passage only (1954, 428-429).
Earlier, it was stressed that it is foolish to attempt a forced harmony between the figurative elements of Revelation 20:1-6 and the premillennial theory—with the latter being contradicted by so many plain passages of Scripture. Making this very point with reference to Revelation 20:1-6, noted scholar Charles Hodge wrote:
It is a sound rule in the interpretation of Scripture that obscure passages should be so explained as to make them agree with those that are plain. It is unreasonable to make the symbolic and figurative language of prophecy and poetry the rule by which to explain the simple didactic prose language of the Bible. It is no less unreasonable that a multitude of passages should be taken out of their natural sense to make them accord with a single passage of doubtful import (1960, 842).
Finally, note this significant quotation from Geerhardus Vos concerning the relationship of the book of Revelation to the premillennial view:
In regard to a book so enigmatical, it were presumptuous to speak with any degree or dogmatism, but the uniform absence of the idea of the millennium from the eschatological teaching of the New Testament elsewhere ought to render the exegete cautious before affirming its presence here (1939, 987).

The Book of Revelation: Its Purpose and Form

Preliminary to this discussion should be a few observations concerning the purpose and form of the Apocalypse. The church of the apostolic age was being severely persecuted. Indeed, in subsequent years, it was subjected to a veritable bloodbath.
The design of Revelation is thus to show that the relatively infant church would be heir to much persecution and suffering. Too, the saints must persevere and by their faith overcome these trials. Finally, the document affirms that Christ would ultimately be victorious over all his enemies.
That the book of Revelation is highly symbolic is evidenced not only by its content, but also by the introduction. Christ “signified” the message by his angel unto John (1:1). The question naturally arises as to why the Lord chose symbols to be the vehicles of these truths. Symbolism frequently serves a two-fold purpose—to reveal and to conceal. Occasionally, the Lord’s parables functioned in this capacity, i.e., they portrayed certain truths to the disciples while withholding the same from those who were spiritually dull (cf. Matthew 13:10-15).
The theme of victory within the book of Revelation was largely couched in the imagery that adorned the Old Testament. The Christians were undoubtedly familiar with this sort of language; so the message of hope would be grasped by those early disciples. At the same time, the defeat of the persecuting powers was veiled to those not discerning the figures. One can well imagine, for example, how trials for the Christians might have been intensified had they been discovered circulating a document which literally predicted the overthrow of their persecutors.
And so, as George Ladd points out: “In the apocalypses, symbolism becomes the main stock in trade, particularly as a technique for outlining the course of history without employing historical names” (1999, 52).
It is thus a serious error to literalize the book of Revelation, and this is precisely what the premillennialists have done with the first six verses of chapter twenty.

The Symbols Employed

An examination of the first half-dozen verses of Revelation 20 evidences the following symbols: a key, a chain, a dragon or serpent, an abyss, a thousand years, thrones, a beast, marks on foreheads and hands, and a resurrection.
It is certainly a strange interpretation which contends that a figurative serpent was bound with a figurative chain and thrown into a figurative abyss which was locked with a figurative lock that had a figurative key, to be confined for a literal thousand years! It ought to be manifestly obvious that no literal reign of Christ upon the earth is here alluded to. Even if one does not understand the specific design of the symbols, he can see the symbolic import of the thousand years.

Significant Omissions

Perhaps this context is more significantly devastating to the premillennial theory for what it does not say, but which, if the theory were true, it surely would have mentioned. Nothing is said of:
  • Christ’s second coming;
  • the establishment of a kingdom;
  • an earthly regime;
  • a bodily reigning;
  • the throne of David; or
  • the Jews being regathered to Palestine.
All of these elements are vitally important to the millennial view, yet they are conspicuously absent from this narrative!

The Gist of the Narrative

Obviously the context of Revelation 20:1-6 is a part of the design of the book as a whole. Many scholars believe that this section is a symbolic description of the revival of Christianity from a period of bloody persecution. For example, note that earlier (6:9-11) John had seen the “souls” of the martyrs “underneath the altar” crying, “How long, O Master, the holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?”
In chapter twenty, however, the apostle views the “souls” on “thrones” reigning with Christ. For a while, Christianity appeared to have been buried in tribulation, but ultimately, it emerged. It was, figuratively speaking, resurrected.
The Scripture speaks of figurative resurrections as well as literal ones (see Isaiah 26:19; Ezekiel 37:12; Romans 11:15).
It would, therefore, not be inconsistent with analogy of prophecy if we should understand the Apostle as here predicting that a new race of men were to arise filled with the spirit of the martyrs, and were to live and reign with Christ a thousand years (Hodge, 842).
That this resurrection alludes to the triumphs of persecuted saints is further borne out by the fact that “the second death hath no power” over the reigning ones, which harmonizes perfectly with chapter two, verse eleven—“He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.” Thus, the resurrection of 20:6 is a figurative way of saying “overcome.”
The one thousand years, of course, also would be symbolic in scope, suggesting either that the victory of God’s cause—as considered in this context—would be lengthy in span, or possibly the one thousand years may denote the completeness of the saints’ triumph. One may confidently say that the term “thousand” is never used in the book of Revelation in a literal sense.


There is no support for the theory of premillennialism—not in the book of Revelation, nor elsewhere in the Bible. It certainly is difficult to abandon a theory that has been entertained for many years, but when one discovers that a religious view is false, he should reject it in deference to truth.
Wayne Jackson
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  • Barnes, Albert. 1954. Commentary on Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker.
  • Brown, David. 1882. Christ’s Second Coming. Edinburgh, Scotland: T. & T. Clark.
  • Clarke, Adam. n.d. Commentary on the Bible. Vol. 4. Nashville, TN: Abingdon.
  • Hardeman, N. B. 1928. Hardeman’s Tabernacle Sermons. Vol. 3. Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate.
  • Harvey, Van A. 1964. A Handbook of Theological Terms. New York, NY: Macmillan.
  • Hodge, Charles. 1960. Systematic Theology. Vol. 3. London, England: James Clarke & Co.
  • Kevan, Ernest F. 1999. Wycliffe Dictionary of Theology. E. F. Harrison, G. W. Bromiley, C. F. Henry, eds. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.
  • Ladd, George. 1999. Wycliffe Dictionary of Theology. E. F. Harrison, G. W. Bromiley, C. F. Henry, eds. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.
  • Laetsch, Theo. 1956. The Minor Prophets. St. Louis, MO: Concordia.
  • Murray, George. 1948. Millennial Studies. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker.
  • Neander, Augustus. 1858. History of Christian Dogmas. Vol. 1. London, England: Bohn.
  • Nichols, James A., Jr. n.d. Christian Doctrine—A Presentation of Biblical Theology. Nutley, NJ: Craig.
  • Scofield, C. I. 1945. Scofield Reference Bible. New York, NY: Oxford Press.
  • Vos, Geerhardus. 1939. International Standard Encyclopedia of the Bible. Vol. 2. James Orr, ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.
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Published in The Old Paths Archive