Part 2 of 2: The Two Opinions As To The Composition Of The Apocalypse: Realized Eschatology

Posted By Thomas Perez. April 27, 2011 at 1:30pm. Copyright 2011.

Realized Eschatology is a Christian eschatological theory popularized by C. H. Dodd (1884–1973) that holds that the eschatological passages in the New Testament do not refer to the future, but instead refer to the ministry of Jesus and his lasting legacy. Eschatology is therefore, not the end of the world but its rebirth instituted by Jesus and continued by his disciples, a historical (rather than Tran historical) phenomenon. Those holding this view generally dismiss “end times” theories, believing them to be irrelevant. They hold that what Jesus said and did, and told his disciples to do likewise, are of greater significance than any messianic expectations.

This view is attractive to many people, especially liberal Christians, since it reverses the notion of Jesus’ second coming as an apocalyptic event, something which they interpret as being hardly in keeping with the overall theme of Jesus’ teachings in the canonical gospels, and are troubled by its firm association with the Christian right. Instead, eschatology should be about being engaged in the process of becoming, rather than waiting for external and unknown forces to bring about destruction.

Upon this definition of realization, I’m reminded of another prophet of whom Jesus declared as a forerunner pertaining to the sign of His (Jesus’) resurrection, and that prophet is Jonah. According to Deut 18:21-22, “a prophet is one who speaks the Word of the Lord. When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, and that thing which the prophet has spoken does not come true; he is then considered a false prophet”. The people should not fear him, because he has spoken presumptuously. Similarly, according to Jeremiah 28:9, “the prophet who prophesies anything and it comes to pass shall be known as the prophet whom the Lord sent”.

Jonah was one of many prophets. He is considered a minor prophet because his book contains only 4 chapters. His ministry was during the time of the Neo-Assyrian Empire under the rule of ‘Tiglath-Pilesar BC 745.

Jonah was sent by God to prophecy against the city of Nineveh because their wickedness came up before God. However, by carefully examining the passage, I found that it states only the sin of the Ninevites went up before God, and nothing else. We also learn that Jonah had a very difficult time in fulfilling his task of prophecy.

His character was one of contempt and racism against the Ninevites. Jonah knew that God was gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abundant in loving kindness, one who changes His mind from doing harm when sinners repent. It is because of this reason that Jonah pronounces judgment as indicated in Jonah 3:4, he cried out saying “yet in forty days, Nineveh shall be overthrown”. However, this prophecy; incensed by racism of the heart, did not come to pass. Although this is one way of looking at it, the text does not say Jonah made up the prophecy. Jonah 3:10 states that God had planned destruction but then relented.

Considering that the prophecy Jonah cited did not come to pass, one can view him as a false prophet. When considering the passage in Deut 18:21-22, one can also consider his view of God to be restrictive. Yet in view of the final outcome of Nineveh, I can see that Jonah was indeed a true prophet who had repented of his own wrong doing.

A prophets job was to bring peace, this was fulfilled through Jonah, who ultimately brought peace between God and the people of Nineveh. It makes me wonder how easy one can forget the mercies of God. For it was not to long ago that God pronounced judgment against the house of Jacob, but relented in doing so (Amos 7:2-3). It is also indicated in Jeremiah 18:7 that God will relent of a set judgment, but will do so only if a nation, city, or person turns from evil.

Further indications of God’s character of mercy and love can be found in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah as recorded in the book of Genesis. Here God said that He will spare an entire city if He found 50, 45, 30, 20, or even 10 righteous individuals for their sake. I’m also reminded of Ezekiel’s exhortation cited in chapter 18:19-32. In this chapter, God is shown as a Just and Fearful God; judging the wicked for their wickedness and judging the righteous, when they turn from their righteousness. The book of Jonah expands the definition of prophecy and shows that its overall goal is repentance (not prediction of the future).

Bearing in mind the purpose of prophecy – repentance – not prediction per se, can easily direct one’s attention to relate to a Merciful God. A God who can transcend His own laws and pronouncements when proceeded by repentance and faith or as often seen after said prediction. We often read of the prophets (both major & minor) pronouncing judgment. But when one reads between the lines, such oracles of prophecy are often times meant to correct and re-establish a healthy relationship with God – Whom the Lord loves He chastises (Pro 3:12).

Therefore, when studying eschatology, we should not be looking for the writing on the wall, but a certain expectation of glory should abound and be expected as the ultimate proof of His love (II Pet 3:9). Prophecy is written for our exhortation, not defeat. Yet, upon neglect; prophecy can also come back to bite you, when you least expect it. This was clearly evident and seen pertaining to the constant rebellious nature concerning the children of Israel – who often did not know from whence their judgment (chastisement) came from – until prophets were sent to declare the Lord’s message of repentance. Often times prophets were also sent before the actual chastisement (as seen in the mouth of Ahijah (I Kgs 14:14-16, II Kgs 15:29, Jeremiah 20:4-6, 25:11-12, 29:10, and Micah 4:10) and thus was fulfilled in II Chron 36:17-21 & Daniel 9:1-2. Yet – and this is most beautiful – God demonstrated that the very empire (The Babylonian Empire) that would take Israel and Judah captive would fall, as predicted by the mouth of Isaiah 100 years before its rise and actual captivity of Israel/Judah (Isa 13, 14:4-22, 21:1-10).

Prophecy is, more or less, a message that can be considered accurate, ongoing, but will always come to an end when its ultimate goal of repentance is established – sometimes before, sometimes after. Such a condition of repentance was noted when Jesus Himself established the prophetic utterance of the “sign” concerning the Son of Man. For we are to believe in such and repent.

In Matthew 12:38-40 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.

Again, His physical resurrection was is a sign of His eternal resurrection. Thus it will follow that our resurrection in this life is the fulfillment of the conquering Christ (cross ref; Rom 6:11-13). Where He hath raised us, who were dead in sins and taken us to sit in the Heavenly places (Eph 2:1-2, 4-7). This is opposite of I Tim 5:6 – But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth. While she liveth, she or him for that matter, is separated from God (Isa 59:2,  II Thess 1:9). As Adam died the day he ate of the fruit (not physical because we know he lived until the age of  800, therefore; it was a spiritual death) even so in Christ shall all be made alive – and this resurrection is indeed of the spiritual realm. This is confirmed in Ephesians 2:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: We will notice the word “in” as opposed to “with”. If the word “with” was used in the context; an indication of a physical resurrection would have been applied, howbeit, un-necessarily at this injunction.

But Paul does use the word “with” on several occasions:

Colossians 3:3

For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

Here in this verse, we read that we are dead, yet in other references of Scripture; we read that we are alive in Christ, NOT WITH, but IN. Can’t the Apostle Paul Make up his mind??

Philippians 1:23

For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better.

In this verse we see that he desired to be WITH Christ.

Romans 6:8

Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we SHALL also live with him.

Weren’t the Romans living with Christ, He who said where two or three are gathered together in my name; there I’ am in the midst. He who also promised that He shall be with us even to the end of the age. Here we see the beauty of Paul’s dilemma resolved.

Paul was/is dead in Christ – with Christ at the same time – and shall be with Christ.

Yet the Full Preterist would indicate that these things were fulfilled in the 1st Cent after Paul’s death. Therefore, we must ask; when did these things take place? The best plausible way to answer such a question can be found in the Ending of the Son-ship of Jesus Christ. It is recorded in:

I Corinthians 15:24-28

Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

Psalms 110:1

The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.

Acts 2:34-35

For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool.

Hebrews 1:1-13

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 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; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high: Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?  

Philippians 2:9-11

Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Keeping in mind the aforementioned verse’s, has this been done? If it has, then:

1. Death is conquered,

2. All enemies are under Him,

3. And Jesus delivered the Kingdom to God, thus ending His Son-ship.

A Full Preterist would have to answer YES to all of the above, but if this is true, SHOULDN’T we know His name?? (Rev 19:12). Apparently, perhaps, there are parts of the character of the eternal and limitless God that only God knows, though Christ may reveal such matters at His second coming. However, the Apostle John is only permitted to tell us that this unknown name is found in the person of Jesus Christ, the eternal Word (Logos) of God! Perhaps it is a combination of both YHWH and JESHUA. A name perhaps to strike terror upon the beast. But, I dare not think of this loving, awesome, holy, and terrible name! For Holy and terrible is His name (Job 37:22, Psalms 47:2, Joel 2:31, Rev 4:8).

Therefore, since we all (Full & Partial Preterists, Futurists, etc) confess the same name “Jesus Christ”, then perhaps His revelation in glory has not come to pass as recorded in Revelation 19, since we know not his name. However, it will also incur that since we know not the date of the Apocalypse; then perhaps He (Jesus) has not revealed Himself for all to see; but that does not entail that the second coming did not transpire.This is a clear confirmation concerning the words of St. Paul in I Cor 13:8-12 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. for we see now through a mirror obscurely, and then face to face; now I know in part, and then I shall fully know, as also I was known.

The imperfect has to be done away with first before we could have the perfect. It had to be done away with in order for us to know Him (Jesus) as they, (the Corinthians) knew Paul face to face. (Cross Ref: Rev 22:3-4). But what is that which is perfect?

According to all that I can find it can only mean 3 things:

1. It could be a Person (as in Jesus Christ). His second coming/Parousia.

2. It could be the Kingdom of God (as in Parousia)

3. It could be the Word (as in the Scriptures)

The Greek word for perfect (in this verse) denotes:

The word for perfect here is – Adjective, teleios

signifies “having reached its end” (telos), “finished, complete, perfect.” It is used (I) of persons, (a) primarily of physical development, then, with ethical import, “fully grown, mature,” 1 Cor. 2:6; 14:20 (“men;” marg., “of full age”); Eph. 4:13; Phil. 3:15; Col. 1:28; 4:12; in Heb. 5:14, RV, “fullgrown” (marg., “perfect”), AV, “of full age” (marg., “perfect”); (b) “complete,” conveying the idea of goodness without necessary reference to maturity or what is expressed under (a), Matt. 5:48; 19:21; Jas. 1:4 (2nd part); 3:2. It is used thus of God in Matt. 5:48; (II) of “things, complete, perfect,” Rom. 12:2; 1 Cor. 13:10 (referring to the complete revelation of God’s will and ways, whether in the completed Scriptures or in the hereafter); Jas. 1:4 (of the work of patience); Jas 1:25; 1 John 4:18.

Certain things must cease first before the Perfection

The word for cease here is – Verb, pauo

“to stop, to make an end,” is used chiefly in the Middle Voice in the NT, signifying “to come to an end, to take one’s rest, a willing cessation” (in contrast to the Passive Voice which denotes a forced cessation), Luke 5:4, of a discourse; Luke 8:24, of a storm; Luke 11:1, of Christ’s prayer; Acts 5:42, of teaching and preaching; Acts 6:13, of speaking against; Acts 13:10, of evil doing; Acts 20:1, of an uproar; Acts 20:31, of admonition; Acts 21:32, of a scourging; 1 Cor. 13:8, of tongues; Eph. 1:16, of giving thanks; Col. 1:9, of prayer; Heb. 10:2, of sacrifices; 1 Pet. 4:1, of “ceasing” from sin. It is used in the Active Voice in 1 Pet. 3:10, “let him cause his tongue to cease from evil.”

The word for fail here is – Verb, pipto

“to fall,” is used of the Law of God in its smallest detail, in the sense of losing its authority or ceasing to have force, Luke 16:17. In 1 Cor. 13:8 it is used of love (some mss. have ekpipto, “to fall off”).

The word vanish here is – Verb, aphanizo

“to render unseen,” is translated “vanisheth away” in Jas. 4:14 (Passive Voice, lit., “is made to disappear”). Note: In 1 Cor. 13:8, AV, katargeo, “to abolish,” is rendered “it shall vanish away” (RV, “be done away”).

Has knowledge vanished away? If it did, then all of our teachings – including my own is vain. Did love fail? No, for we are to love one another – love abides. Has everything above under pauo ceased? No – for we still give thanks, for we still preach and teach, we are admonished to cease from doing evil, we are also encouraged to grow in the knowledge of Christ, etc. WE are to develop in the Body of Christ – who is His Bride-the Church. Therefore, all things; according to the passage (I Cor 13) did NOT come to pass. We still wait for that which is PERFECT . We still wait for that which SHALL be.

But can we believe that in the perfection – that is to come – is a physical resurrection (meaning; our bodies, the work of His hands) on the horizon in some future state?

Let us consider the passage in Job 19:25-27, For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.

Preterists would interpret the verse as saying, “from or without my flesh, I shall see God” Here Job would have meant “from the vantage point of my flesh”, that is to say, “looking out of my flesh, I shall see God” Or Job could have meant “from outside my flesh”, that is, “free from my flesh, shall I see God”. Moreover, Preterists would claim that Job denied a physical resurrection. They would often cite Job 14:10-12, But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up: So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep

But they often miss verses 13-15 O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands.

AND WHAT IS THE WORK OF HIS HANDS?

Psalms 143:5 I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands.

Psalm 92:3-5 Upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound. For thou, LORD, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands. O LORD, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep. The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.

Ecclesiastes 5:6 Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands?

But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.

Hebrews 2:7 Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands.

Upon reading the said passages of Scripture, it is obvious that the work of his hands are the physical makings of all that is around us and that includes our physical bodies as well. For are we not greater than all of these makings?

Jesus Christ is set over us (the work of His hands)….Shall He then disregard it as of no value. For I’ am fearfully and wonderfully made! For with God all things are possible, even if we are only clay, ashes, & dust. For He knoweth the numbers on our heads and the number of the sands on the seashore.

Perhaps our Reformed heritage had it correct all this time – found within the teachings of Historicism, Post Millennialism, and/or Amillennialism – unveiled in the form of Realized Eschatology.

The resurrection is indeed a past (since we are raised in Christ onto a good conscience), ever present (since we are sowing what is good or bad with that conscience), & future event (that which shall be, according to what we have sowed by our conscience). Raised in his/her own order I Cor 15:23 – as demonstrated in God’s overall redemptive plan. This is the power of prophecy, to cause one to repent & believe the Good News of the Gospel; similar to the Jonahs of the Old Testament. The Ninevites had not the law, yet sin was counted against them. It is the job of eschatology to have us realize that the sting of death is sin, (separation from God) and the strength of sin is the law (the jailer being the law – our conscience that pricks us. It is the Holy Spirit that worketh in our conscience). Yet in all this, we HAVE an advocate – Jesus Christ, the Righteous (I John 2:1-2).

We should realize this proclamation…

Not as: Already / but not yet, as the futurist does.

Not as: Already / and becoming as the Full Preterist does.

But as: Already / becoming / be seen and has; but not seen fully, but  

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