The Revelation: Riddles and Enigmas (the Millennium, Part 2)

The 1,000-year reign can’t refer to an earthly kingdom

(John 18:36 ESV)  36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”

(Dan 2:44 ESV) And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever,

Jesus declares plainly that the kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. And Daniel’s prophecy of the kingdom is clear that the kingdom to be established at the time of the Romans will last forever. There won’t be a second earthly kingdom that replaces the original spiritual kingdom. Nor do any of the numerous Old Testament prophecies about the kingdom speak of a transition from a spiritual kingdom to an earthly kingdom.

The resurrection of the righteous and the wicked is simultaneous, not separated by 1,000 years

(John 5:28-29 ESV) 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice  29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

John speaks of a single “hour” (singular in the Greek, too) when “all” the dead will hear God’s voice and be resurrected, some to life and some to judgment.

The scriptures speak of but one resurrection when addressing the end times —

(Act 24:14-15 ESV)  14 But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets,  15 having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.

“A resurrection” is singular.

The second coming will be at a time unexpected

(1Th 5:2-4 ESV)  2 For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.  3 While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.  4 But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief.

These observations eliminate all Premillennial and many Postmillennial theories

The Wikipedia describes Premillennialism thusly —

Premillennialism in Christian end-times theology is the belief that Jesus will literally and physically be on the earth for his millennial reign, at his second coming. The doctrine is called premillennialism because it holds that Jesus’s physical return to earth will occur prior to the inauguration of the millennium. It is distinct from the other forms of Christian eschatology such as postmillennialism or amillennialism, which view the millennial rule as occurring either before the second coming, or as being figurative and non-temporal.

Premillennialism is largely based upon a literal interpretation of Revelation 20:1-6 in the New Testament which adherents claim describes Jesus’s coming to the earth and subsequent reign at the end of an apocalyptic period of tribulation. It views this future age as a time of fulfillment for the prophetic hope of God’s people as given in the Old Testament.

Others such as the Eastern Orthodox claim that this passage of Revelation describes the present time, when Christ reigns in heaven with the departed saints; such an interpretation views the symbolism of Revelation as referring to an invisible spiritual battle rather than a visible battle on earth.

Premillennialism is often used to refer specifically to those who adhere to the beliefs in an earthly millennial reign of Christ as well as a rapture of the faithful coming before the tribulation preceding the millennium. Post-millennialism, for example, agrees with premillennialism about the future earthly reign of Christ and a preceding time of tribulation but maintains that there will be no rapture of the faithful before the tribulation.

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The notion of an earthly kingdom in between a resurrection of the saved and a second resurrection of the damned is inconsistent with the rest of scripture. And if the Millennium is an actual 1,000 years, ending with the Second Coming, the time of the Second Coming won’t be much of a surprise.

File:Millennial views.svgThe Wikipedia describes Postmillennialism thusly —

Although some postmillennialists hold to a literal millennium of 1,000 years, most postmillennialists see the thousand years more as a figurative term for a long period of time (similar in that respect to amillennialism).

Among those holding to a non-literal “millennium” it is usually understood to have already begun, which implies a less obvious and less dramatic kind of millennium than that typically envisioned by premillennialists, as well as a more unexpected return of Christ.

Postmillennialism also teaches that the forces of Satan will gradually be defeated by the expansion of the Kingdom of God throughout history up until the second coming of Christ. This belief that good will gradually triumph over evil has led proponents of postmillennialism to label themselves “optimillennialists” in contrast to “pessimillennial” premillennialists and amillennialists.

Many postmillennialists also adopt some form of preterism, which holds that many of the end times prophecies in the Bible have already been fulfilled. …

Postmillennialists also diverge on the means of the gospel’s conquest. Revivalist postmillennialism is a form of the doctrine held by the Puritans and some today that teaches that the millennium will come about not from Christians changing society from the top down (that is, through its political and legal institutions) but from the bottom up at the grass roots level (that is, through changing people’s hearts and minds).

Reconstructionist postmillennialism, on the other hand, sees that along with grass roots preaching of the Gospel and explicitly Christian education, Christians should also set about changing society’s legal and political institutions in accordance with Biblical, and also sometimes Theonomic, ethics (see Dominion theology).

The revivalists deny that the same legal and political rules which applied to theocratic state of Ancient Israel should apply directly to modern societies which are no longer directly ruled by Israel’s prophets, priests, and kings.

In the United States, the most prominent and organized forms of postmillennialism are based on Christian Reconstructionism and hold to a reconstructionist form of postmillennialism advanced by Gary North, Kenneth Gentry, and Greg Bahnsen.

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Obviously, the school of Postmillennial thought that expects the church to use the government to save the world deeply misunderstands the gospel.

Now, the problem I have with the Postmillennial interpretation is the theory of some that the Millennium doesn’t begin until sometime in the future. The rest of scripture just doesn’t have room for two-stage kingdom, with a second-stage that is an earthly kingdom. And as we considered in the To Change the World series, I can’t buy the argument that it’s the church’s job to bring the Millennium (which puts me in disagreement with Alexander Campbell, who thought his work in founding the Restoration Movement would bring the Millennium, and so he called his publication The Millennial Harbinger).

Indeed, any theory that merges church and state is, to me, very highly suspect — especially if the theory anticipates that the church will wield earthly power to gain control of the state. That idea entirely disregards the rest of the New Testament.

Amillennialism

The Wikipedia describes Amillennialism thusly —

Amillennialism (Latin: a- “no” + millennialism) is a view in Christian end-times theology named for its rejection of the theory that Jesus Christ will have a thousand-year long, physical reign on the earth. This is in opposition to premillennial and some postmillennial views of chapter 20 of the Book of Revelation.

In contrast, the amillennial view holds that the thousand years mentioned in Revelation 20 is a symbolic number, not a literal description; that the millennium has already begun and is identical with the current church age, (or more rarely, that it ended with the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 — see Preterism). Amillennialism holds that while Christ’s reign during the millennium is spiritual in nature, at the end of the church age, Christ will return in final judgment and establish a permanent physical reign.

Now, the term “Amillennialism” is a poor choice of terms, because it sounds like a denial of the teaching of Rev 20 altogether, which isn’t true. Rather, it’s a denial of an earthly reign of Christ for a literal 1,000 years. I think this is the most likely choice.

1,000

Revelation is chock full of symbolic numbers, and every theory finds the need to interpret most numbers non-literally. There’s no reason to imagine that 1,000 is exempt from being a figure of speech. The 1,000-year reign must be interpreted in the same light as the 144,000 saved. It’s whatever number is needed to utterly, completely fulfill God’s purposes — just as the 144,000 redeemed people is however many people God chooses to redeem to fulfill his perfect, complete purpose.

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About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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29 Responses to The Revelation: Riddles and Enigmas (the Millennium, Part 2)

  1. “Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world….”

    Jesus was speaking in present tense. At the time of His speaking, His kingdom was not of this world. That does not preclude His kingdom—in one form or another—being on this planet in the future.

    Every Sunday I hear people say we are working in His kingdom right now, uh, here on earth. I am not saying those people are correct, but they say this often.

  2. John F says:

    We often see kingdom only is a “reality” sense. God’s kingdom “in the wilderness.” in the nation of “Israel”, in the “exile”, in the presence of the ministry of Jesus, in the dispersion, in the church (come at Pentecost)., etc. My father’s clear tenor voice used to sing the “Lord”s Prayer” . . . . .thy kingdom’s come”. . . . . . to try to “keep clear” his understanding of the kingdom.
    God’s kingdom is the entire creation — throughout time (which He created as well, demonstrated by gravitational waves). In our weakness of mind (1 Cor 1:25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.) we would like to think we understand the hidden things of God.

    Isaiah 48:6-8 And you, will you not declare it?
    I proclaim to you new things from this time,
    Even hidden things which you have not known.
    7 “They are created now and not long ago;
    And before today you have not heard them,
    So that you will not say, ‘Behold, I knew them.’
    8 “You have not heard, you have not known.
    Even from long ago your ear has not been open,

    And of course , if you are into numeric symbolism, 10 to the third is 1000, so the completeness of seven plus the trinity three fold . . . . it can make my brain hurt, and numerologists cannot agree.

    If Milligan had been correct, Christ would have come in 1927 or 1928.

    I have been asked to present a short mission lesson on heaven, and have postponed it for some time, simply because it cannot be simple, and i cannot “buy into” our traditionally understood “waiting room theory.” Maybe by the time we finish this I can look at that assignment again. .

  3. Ray Downen says:

    Many believe in a “rapture” and some believe in a millennial reign of Jesus on earth. Jesus promises that when He returns it will be to rescue the redeemed from a doomed earth which will be destroyed by fire. Some imagine that the wicked will only perish. Jesus speaks of continuing unpleasant continuing existence of the wicked as well as the glorious living of those who are His. Jay explains well the varying theories.

  4. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Dwayne,

    (Jn. 18:36 ESV) 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”

    Caesar’s kingdom will do what Caesar’s kingdom always does, but this time God’s kingdom will win the decisive victory.

    Jesus explains (18: 36) that his kingdom is not the sort that grows in this world. His kingdom is certainly for this world, but it isn’t from it. It comes from somewhere else — in other words, from above, from heaven, from God. It is God’s gift to his world, but, as John already pointed out in the prologue, the world isn’t ready for this gift. The key is this: if Jesus’s kingdom were the regular sort, the kind that grows all too easily in the present world — the sort of kingdom, in fact, that James and John had wanted! — then Jesus’s followers would be taking up arms: “If my kingdom were from this world, my supporters would have fought to stop me being handed over to the Judaeans. So then, my kingdom is not the sort that comes from here.” (18: 36) The difference between the kingdoms is striking. Caesar’s kingdom (and all other kingdoms that originate in this world) make their way by fighting. But Jesus’s kingdom — God’s kingdom enacted through Jesus — makes its way with quite a different weapon, one that Pilate refuses to acknowledge: telling the truth:

    Wright, N. T. (2012-03-13). How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels (p. 144). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

    One key problem with many interpretations of the 1000-year reign is that it’s imagined as being like an earthly kingdom, imposed by force on the unwilling. That is too much “of this world.” It’s not the nature of Jesus’ kingdom.

    In premillennialism, the saved are Raptured up to heaven and then Jesus rules the planet for 1,000 years — a planet consisting of the damned — who obviously have no desire to be ruled by the likes of Jesus. It’s doesn’t fit the text.

    I would agree that the Kingdom could be on this planet. Indeed, in my view, when Jesus returns, that’s exactly what will happen, except “this planet” will be transformed to become new — the new heavens and new earth. And all who are in the Kingdom will be there by choice.

  5. Gary says:

    All Christians who believe that the account of the Second Coming in 2 Thessalonians 4 will literally occur believe that Christians will be raptured. Belief in the rapture of those Christians living when Jesus returns is not confined to premillennialism. The word rapture is simply a now archaic English word meaning caught up. Enoch apparently was raptured. Elisha was raptured. It is important always to remember that not one word of English was ever used by any Bible writer. So the claim that the rapture is never taught in the Bible because the word rapture is not found in the Bible is meaningless. It may well be that many of the nuances of doctrine associated with the rapture as taught by some teachers may not be true. But all Evangelical Christians should be able to agree that those Christians living on this earth when Christ returns will be raptured or caught up to meet Jesus in the air as is plainly taught in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. Churches of Christ need to lose our longstanding aversion to the rapture.

  6. Gary says:

    Because of the extremes of Dispensationalism (also known as Pre-trib or Pre-tribulation premillennialism) all of premillennialism has a bad reputation in mainstream Churches of Christ. Hostility to premillennialism was present in traditional and conservative Churches of Christ and it has continued to this day in progressive Churches of Christ.

    Dispensationalism only goes back to the mid nineteenth century but historic premillennialism goes back to the early centuries of Christianity before the conversion of Constantine. That doesn’t necessarily make it true but it does mean that we should be reluctant to reject all premillennial thought. Arnolf von Harnack wrote in 1909, “So-called chiliasm … can be found wherever the gospel is not yet hellenized … and most be considered one of the main elements of the earliest proclamation…. It was there that part of the power of Christianity in the [first] century lay, and it was one of the means by which it outdid Jewish propaganda in the empire.” (Lehrbuch der Dogmengeschichte I, 4th ed., Tubingen 1909, 187, n.1.) Chiliasm is simply an older term for premillennialism.

    There is always a tension in Christian thought between the already and the not yet. Both have their place although Churches of Christ are heavily on the already or realized eschatology side. As the writings of Richard Hughes have shown, however, premillennial thought was closely associated with our beginnings as a separate Christian tradition and especially with the heart of the Stone-Lipscomb apocalyptic tradition that was largely jettisoned by Churches of Christ after WW1. That’s not to say that all our Restoration pioneers were or considered themselves to be premillenialists. Churches of Christ folks have always eschewed labels. But the role of ideas that would be in ballpark of historic premillennialism was prominent in our development until WW1.

  7. Larry Cheek says:

    Dwayne,
    You stated,
    “Every Sunday I hear people say we are working in His kingdom right now, uh, here on earth. I am not saying those people are correct, but they say this often.”
    Do you have some incite as to why this is not correct?

  8. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay,
    As I read this message in your presentation of the source in Wikipedia, I was surprised because I was not aware that this belief ever believed that there would be a (physical reign). Therefore, I began searching to see if that was true, for that was not a part of my belief. I believe that Christ’s reign and his kingdom will be spiritual forever, it will never be physical.
    Amillennialism holds that while Christ’s reign during the millennium is spiritual in nature, at the end of the church age, Christ will return in final judgment and establish a permanent physical reign.

    So this is what I found in Wikipedia.
    Amillennialism (Greek: a- “no” + millennialism), in Christian eschatology, involves the rejection of the belief that Jesus will have a literal, thousand-year-long, physical reign on the earth. This rejection contrasts with premillennial and some postmillennial interpretations of chapter 20 of the Book of Revelation.

    The amillennial view regards the “thousand years” mentioned in Revelation 20 as a symbolic number, not as a literal description; amillennialists hold that the millennium has already begun and is identical with the current church age. Amillennialism holds that while Christ’s reign during the millennium is spiritual in nature, at the end of the church age, Christ will return in final judgment and establish a permanent reign in the new heaven and new earth.

    Now to compare your post.
    Amillennialism (Latin: a- “no” + millennialism) is a view in Christian end-times theology named for its rejection of the theory that Jesus Christ will have a thousand-year long, physical reign on the earth. This is in opposition to premillennial and some postmillennial views of chapter 20 of the Book of Revelation.

    In contrast, the amillennial view holds that the thousand years mentioned in Revelation 20 is a symbolic number, not a literal description; that the millennium has already begun and is identical with the current church age, (or more rarely, that it ended with the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 — see Preterism). Amillennialism holds that while Christ’s reign during the millennium is spiritual in nature, at the end of the church age, Christ will return in final judgment and establish a permanent physical reign.

    They are almost the same but, (Latin) or (Greek) and the last sentence.

    A physical reign? Or would we be part of his reign in bodies like Jesus had after resurrection, in the changed bodies which we are promised during resurrection?
    I did not understand there would be anything physical living in the new heaven and new earth.
    Even beyond that, would the expression will establish a permanent reign later, suggest that the reigning as King now in a spiritual nature is not permanent?

    1Co 15:51-55 ESV Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, (52) in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. (53) For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. (54) When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” (55) “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

    Then I would also compare that we are promised to never die. That is not referring to this physical body but, to the Spirit or Life within us. The life within us cannot die but is not permanent?

  9. Jay,

    I have finally (forgive me as I am slow of wit at times) realized that there is a large chasm between our two views of what premillienialsm teaches. And I am happy to admit that. I feel that persons of different backgrounds agree much more than they first think.

  10. Monty says:

    I think we are taught to pray thy kingdom come. We are not taught to pray for something that cannot, in fact, happen. I don’t think Jesus was teaching us to pray for the end of time(his 2nd coming). But to pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven. The kingdom of God is present with us when his will is done in us and through us. Surely this was a motivating factor in the spreading of the good news by those early disciples, bringing the kingdom from heaven to earth and for God’s reign over darkness to increase all the more and not just the saving of souls for some future(after this life event).

  11. Gary says:

    Monty, I agree entirely with your comments on the Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is the reign of God and wherever we see God reigning there we see the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom has come, is now coming and will come with great power when Christ returns. So the Kingdom cannot be confined to past, present or future.

  12. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Gary,

    “Rapture” has taken on a fairly specific meaning in American Christianity. It refers to being caught up bodily in the air to meet Jesus, as described in 1 The 4:17, and then an assumed further trip up to heaven, along with Jesus. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/rapture Being caught up to meet Jesus followed by a return to earth is not called “Rapture” in any source I’m aware of.

    On the other hand, I would agree that most American Christians believe that people go to heaven when they die. Or when the general resurrection occurs. But most think primarily in terms of souls going to heaven, in my experience. Those who teach a Premillennial Rapture (which is the context in which the term is almost always used) do believe in a bodily Rapture of some sort, as they envision empty cars, not cars with dead bodies and souls flying up to heaven. And I do agree with them to that extent. Jesus left his grave empty — as will we.

    For those who believe in a single general resurrection, well, they rarely use the term Rapture to refer to going to heaven. “Rapture” has taken on the narrow connotation of a bodily trip with Jesus to heaven while the damned are left behind. That may not be the exact definition, but it’s only way I’ve ever heard the term used. I’ve never heard anyone advocate for a “Rapture” other than in the context of some Premillennial theory. Hence, this popular site defines “Rapture” in Premillenial terms.

    (I really can’t motivate myself to get into the pre-Trib, mid-Trib, and post-Trib theories.)

    My criticism of the Rapture would boil down to —

    1. It’s a bad reading of 1 The 4:17 according to the best scholarship. I’ve read about 30 commentaries on the passage. Those that disagree with the majority view (per my post) just disagree. They are committed to a theology that rejects Rev 21 and Rom 8 teaching a continuation of the Creation — which is not, you know, the end of the world. Except it really is. But it’s nothing worth getting mad about. And obviously it’s a respectable view as it’s the majority view of Christians (just not a majority of the premier commentary writers).

    2. The damned are left behind, which I don’t think the Bible teaches. In fact, it seems really odd to me.

    3. I don’t believe in multiple general resurrections, for reasons already stated. Again, odd to my ear. Very foreign to the OT and the flow of scripture.

    4. I don’t believe in a literal 1000-year reign, for reasons being stated. Just doesn’t fit the scriptural narrative. You can prove anything with proof texts, but it doesn’t fit the over-arching narrative. The view I’m trying to explain has remarkable parallels with Gen and is deeply rooted in the earlier texts. To me, that’s extremely important.

  13. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Gary,

    It’s true that there is such a thing as “historic premillennialism” which teaches that Jesus returns, the saved stay on earth (no Rapture yet), and Jesus rules for 1,000 years. I’ve not studied the teaching because I’ve never met anyone who accepts it or teaches it. It’s not the same as what, in the US, is called “Premillennialism” which is technically dispensational Premillennialism. In this view, there’s a Rapture, the saved go to heaven, and Jesus comes to earth to rule over the damned, some of whom are ultimately converted. And there are tribulations and battles, all predicted by prophecy in great detail. It’s always struck me as highly unlikely, but it’s a very popular teaching as evidenced by the Left Behind series, popular Christian music, movies, etc., etc. When I was in high school, Hal Lindsey was popular among my classmates. And I’m familiar with the Worldwide Church of God’s teachings — and that denomination fell apart and went mainstream evangelical.

    The early Restoration Movement was post-Millennial, meaning they believed in a golden age of 1,000 years during which Jesus would rule, to be brought about human effort — such as the founding of the American republic and the Restoration Movement. I really have trouble seeing a lot of difference between historical premillennialism and post-millennialism. Both teach a literal 1000-year rule of Jesus on earth. Neither teach a preceding Rapture. So they seem very similar to me.

    The Theopedia says,

    “In contrast to premillennialism, the postmillennialists emphasize the present aspects of God’s kingdom, which will reach fruition in the future. They believe that the millennium will come through Christian preaching and teaching. Such activity will result in a more godly, peaceful, and prosperous world. The new age will not be essentially different from the present, and it will come about as more people are converted to Christ. Evil will not be totally eliminated during the millennium, but it will be reduced to a minimum as the moral and spiritual influence of Christians is increased.” Elwell, Walter A. (ed.): Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition, Millenium, Views of the (article), page 771.

    THat is, Post-M believe human effort is God’s means of producing the 1000-year reign. Pre-M (historicist) believe the same stuff but are more pessimistic. God’s going to have to do it for us. So I’m not sure how pre- and post- are even helpful labels in that light.

    I’ve not seen evidence of dispensational Pre-M before Boll became front-page editor for the Gospel Advocate in early 20th Century. And that’s when the Pre-M split began. It was entirely over before WWII. He was fired. Pre-M Churches were excluded from our directories (later repented of). And conservative lectureships go on preaching their anti pre-M sermons from 1920.

    Progressives largely find the controversy confusing and uninteresting. If I speak to a class about Left Behind, it’s largely so they can understand what the controversy is all about. Most, like me, came up in a Church of Christ that didn’t address the issue at all.

    The biggest impact of Left Behind in the progressive churches, in my observation, is that many people felt free to read some of the books, found themselves perplexed, leading to openness and interest in the End Times. People are fascinated by End Times discussions, so long as no one starts arguing post-Trib vs. pre-Trib or the like. Folks are more interested in trying to put together the big picture.

  14. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Larry,

    The fact is that we do not have a particularly helpful vocabulary to discuss these things. For example, when Paul speaks of “spiritual bodies” in 1 Cor 15, he does not mean bodies made of spirit but bodies given by the Spirit that will be just like the resurrection body of Jesus. Compare —

    (Phil. 3:20-4:1 ESV) 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

    (1 Jn. 3:2 ESV) 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.

    Plainly we will have a “body” and plainly it won’t like our present bodies.

    If I say “spiritual bodies,” unless I write a 200-word essay, I’ll be read as speaking of bodies made out of spirit.

    When Paul wishes to speak of mortal bodies, he says psychikos bodies — soulish bodies. If I were to write about soul-bodies, people would assume disembodied bodies (as though such a thing could exist).

    So I’m open to suggestions.

    Pre-M and Post-M believe Jesus comes to reign while everyone is their mortal, psychikos bodies — the same bodies we have now.

    I and many commentators, including NT Wright but going back to Lenski and far earlier, as well as many 19th Century Restoration Movement leaders, believe in a new heavens and new earth re-created anew from the existing Creation — a “new creation” somehow in the same sense that every Christian is a “new creation” by the power of the Spirit. Which is hard to understand and even harder to express. We are not yet as we will be. Our glory will be revealed when Jesus returns, Paul says.

    But the new heavens and new earths, and our new bodies, will be different from the present heavens and earth and mortal bodies — just as Jesus’ body was transformed by the resurrection. The Gospel writers offer few details.

    Hence, Jesus and God will indeed reign on earth, but it will be the new earth and new heavens (and so they’ll also reign in heaven; heaven and earth will be merged), it will be forever (not 1000 years only), and the damned will be gone from the planet, destroyed just as God will destroy all that adulterates the planet and brings futility.

  15. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Dwayne,

    See my replies to Gary. Maybe that will help bridge the chasm.

  16. Gary says:

    Jay, you’re right that Dispensationalism has largely obscured Historic Premillennialism for generations now. That is unfortunate in my view because I’ve long believed that Historic Premillennialism has much to commend it. Historic Premillennialism does live on however in the writings of George Eldon Ladd whom I believe to be the greatest writer and thinker in the English speaking world on the subject of the Kingdom of God. His little book, The Gospel of the Kingdom, has never gone out of print. I think it is the most outstanding exposition of what the heart of Christianity really is at least in uninspired literature. Last I knew it was still available through Eerdmans. (Eerdman was another influential historical premillennialist.)

    R.H. Boll, the patriarch of premillennial Churches of Christ, was a dispensationalist. If he had simply been an historical premillennialist I don’t believe the division over premillennialism in Churches of Christ would have occurred. Not all CoC premillennialists have been dispensationalists however. Alex Wilson, the longtime editor of Word and Work, is an historical premillennialist.

    The most important reason to take Historic Premillennialism seriously however is that it is widely believed to have been the predominant eschatology of the early church for the first several centuries of her existence. Augustine didn’t originate amillennialism but he is considered to be the father of amillennialism. He was also the one who was responsible for the marginalization of premillennialism which has continued down to this day.

  17. Alabama John says:

    Its hard to imagine a world, on the earth or elsewhere, where we will be in different bodies and no one will sin and suffer the consequences. Even in Heaven there were Angels that sinned. God made us humans competitive and that causes sin.

    Will there not be any free will in this new earth?

  18. laymond says:

    Good question John,

  19. John F says:

    I would like to think that we (the saved) would be so overwhelmed with the MAJESTY of God and appreciation for HIS love and GRACE in saving us that we will have lost the very desire to rebel (sin). No plan of salvation for the angels (at least not that of which we have been informed. We cannot begin to comprehend what God has planned for us. (1 Cor 2:6-9
    Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; 7 but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; 8 the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; 9 but just as it is written,

    “THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD,
    AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN,
    ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.” )

    Whatever heaven is like, — new earth, new creation … I just want to be there.

  20. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay,
    I have noticed your use of this term several times, (soulish bodies), but I have not found a very convincing definition of how it relates to us.
    “When Paul wishes to speak of mortal bodies, he says psychikos bodies — soulish bodies. If I were to write about soul-bodies, people would assume disembodied bodies (as though such a thing could exist).”
    This statement as well as others is leading me to believe that you understand that our soul is not a separate entity to our physical body. That it is not possible for the soul to be separated from our body. The term you have used, (disembodied bodies) appears to me as saying a mortal body cannot be without a soul or it would be a (disembodied body) and they cannot exist. If that could be true then I would like for you to explain what Jesus meant as he made this statement.
    Mat 10:28 ESV And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
    I understand Jesus to be saying in this statement, that men can kill the body, but men cannot kill the soul, and that the only force that can kill a soul is God. Of course he can kill the body also. As far as mankind or any event short of God’s intervention in killing a soul, a soul is immortal. Therefore, it would be very possible that John could see souls under the alter that did not have bodies. Of course you have projected that it is not really souls under the alter but is lives, but using either identity for what was under the alter still represents that it is an object which survived the death of the body. I see it very unusual that John would have been able to identify that those were killed for standing up for The Word because they were (souls or lives) without bodies. The bodies evidently were still dead otherwise they should have been raised from the dead and changed into the spiritually resurrected body like Christ’s resurrected body.
    Rev 6:9 ESV When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne.
    It is very obvious that if the resurrection and judgement was in progress, their cryings, were out of place.
    Rev 6:10-11 ESV They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (11) Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.

    So here we have (souls or lives) which ever you prefer, living separated from the dead body, prior to the resurrection. A portion of man which can only be killed or destroyed by God.
    Where were these immortal (souls or lives), they were in the vision that John was seeing of heaven prior to the resurrection.

  21. Monty says:

    I think all of us would gladly give our will over to the Lord (freely) not robbed, especially if all that was meant by it was that we would never, ever, be tempted to sin against Him again. So that, our every decision and heart’s desire would only be in what pleased Him most.

  22. John F says:

    Take a look at Watchman Nee’s “The Spiritual Man” if you want to dig deeper in “soul”

  23. Alabama John says:

    I would prefer to not become a robot. Rather be dead all over instead.

    That is not Gods intent for us. God wants us to follow Him by us wanting to so we do have a choice in heaven just as we do on earth or anywhere else in the universes. The Angels had choice as an example, actually the only one we have.

    Who knows what is waiting for us and mankind has guessed for many years up to this day.

    Whatever it is even us being paired up with our lovely brides of this earth to become an Adam and Eve on some planet, or an Noah, Moses, or whatever it will be great for us in our obedient relationship with God.

    Believe what you want as it will be as accurate as anyone elses until we meet God and know the real truth.

    I still like the Native American version telling those that have died are waiting on the other side of Jordan drawing pictures in the sand and when they see us coming will come running through the shallow water reaching for our hand so we will walk through the gates into heaven together holding hands. We all have a large crowd waiting for us and we will wait on others that come later.

    What a reunion!!!

  24. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Larry,

    The “soul” speaks to our mortal natures. “Soul” carries a wide range of meanings, but does not ever mean our eternal, ghostly existence. Now, the first time I read this in a commentary I doubted it. just as you do. What I did is read every single reference to psyche or nephesh in the OT and NT using a Bible software program. There are many that will do it, some free. And I’ve been through this exercise more than once.

    You’ve got to define the word based on the 300 clear uses, not the 3 unclear uses. And you really have to look at them all — which is pretty tedious in a blog but easy with the right software. Or you can look up “soul” in the standard, respected Bible dictionaries and lexicons. I’ve cited the definitions in the blog many times.

    Now, what if you were to read Matt 10:28 as emphasizing not “and soul” but “in gehenna.” Isn’t fear of hell a bigger deal than mere mortal death? Isn’t that Jesus’ real point — not that we consist of a body and soul and the soul is immortal (which he doesn’t say) but that God can kill in the agonizing fires of gehenna — which he does say. Even death itself is no escape from the justice of God.

    One last point. As I’ve said, there are those who believe in a temporary disembodied state between death and the resurrection and that the “soul” is in heaven during this time. And there’s an argument to be made for this temporary state. But given that “soul” can also refer to corpses and that Paul uses “soul-ish” to refer to mortal bodies in contrast to immortal bodies, that seems unlikely to me. But I can’t disrespect a teaching held by many excellent scholars.

    And there are verses that one can argue read more naturally this way. For example,

    (Jas. 1:21 ESV) Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

    You could very naturally read “souls” to mean the part of us that is immortal and disembodied. But it seems odd that James, who is writing in very Jewish, OT terms, would adopt a meaning that no one believes is found for “soul” in the OT. So perhaps he is really thinking “save your lives” or, as the NIV translates, “save you” — taking “soul” to mean “self,” which is a very common meaning in the OT and NT.

    The same translation issue comes up in —

    (Jas. 5:20 ESV) 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

    But the NIV translates,

    (Jas. 5:20 NIV) remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

    Again, NIV (very conservative translation) takes “soul” as “self” and not “immortal essence.”

    James speaks of ‘the salvation of your souls’ as this fruit. In accordance with Old Testament usage, ‘soul’ here simply means ‘oneself’, and the salvation is regarded as future: ‘receiving the word’ leads to deliverance in the day of judgment.

    Douglas J. Moo, James: An Introduction and Commentary (Tyndale NTC 16; IVP/Accordance electronic ed. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1985), 85.

  25. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    AJ asked,

    Will there not be any free will in this new earth?

    To the philosopher in me, that’s the hardest question. I do notice the the NHNE will have the tree of life but no tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

    And although the text doesn’t say this, I’m sure there will be no snakes.

    I’m good with John F’s theory:

    I would like to think that we (the saved) would be so overwhelmed with the MAJESTY of God and appreciation for HIS love and GRACE in saving us that we will have lost the very desire to rebel (sin).

    Can I have free will and not sin? Well, Jesus did.

  26. John F says:

    1 John 3:2-3
    Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
    NASU

    In what way will we ” be like Him”? In our immortal bodies; in living with Him as a brother; in living in the new heaven, new earth; apparently in a non-sexual [or at least a non reproductive body unless you would think God, author of one man, one woman for life ideal, changes His approach and has some sort of unrestricted sexual expression] body (neither marry nor are given in marriage).

    We will be “like Him” in be considered without sin .. . . . How GREAT is that?

  27. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay,
    Sorry to be so long responding I’ve been very busy.
    I appreciate your response as it has helped me to orient my thoughts in areas which I have never had to explain before. I don’t believe that I ever had to research this deeply into this subject before. You are very correct in the fact that Bible software is of great value in being able to locate all occurrences of any word and in some cases complete phrases. Without its ability I would be almost helpless in research of concepts in scripture, my memory has never been exceptional, when it comes to the written text, concepts or principles have a lot better chance of being retained in my memory. Therefore, I have conducted some of the searches which you suggested and did not limit those searches to the (word) but by noticing the concept being discussed in some of those locations was able to branch out to areas of similar subject matter.
    I will confess that I do not have nearly as much faith in scholars as you have expressed. “But I can’t disrespect a teaching held by many excellent scholars.” The reason for this is that I see far too many scholars disagreeing, with a great divide between them on many subjects. Much of their disagreements appear to me to be from not properly (KJV) dividing the Word, which is better distinguished in (ESV).
    2Ti 2:14-15 ESV Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. (15) Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
    With this in mind I would suggest that as we undertake to define a word from scripture by looking for the usage of the word in the complete text of scripture. Then while applying the multiple concepts from them into any one occurrence of the word. We must not distort the context being discussed in that location. The application must still be in accordance with all similar context of that subject matter. I believe that words in the scriptures are used to teach us about subjects or to cause us to be able to see a given concept. Words that have multiple applications were not to be used arbitrarily and become the defining authority for the concept being discussed. Therefore, a word which has at least 300 uses which seem clear in scripture could still be defined incorrectly, as we learn more truth about the subjects which was being discussed in those applications. (This may become more comprehendible as we continue.)
    Now this is one portion of your comment that has caught my attention. “You could very naturally read “souls” to mean the part of us that is immortal and disembodied. But, it seems odd that James, who is writing in very Jewish, OT terms, would adopt a meaning that no one believes is found for “soul” in the OT.”
    Then you mention. “So perhaps he is really thinking “save your lives” or, as the NIV translates, “save you”- taking “soul” to mean “self,” which is a very common meaning in the OT and NT.”

    Then you have quoted, Mr. Moo as he attempts to read into James’ the thoughts which he believes.

    Now let’s see if all the definitions of this subject have been exposed by the commentaries. It appears to me that even the Jewish scholars had been void of understanding on this subject and Jesus calls them out on it and it is recorded in three of The Gospels; Matt, Mark and Luke. Matthew expresses how the crowd reacted.
    Mat 22:23-34 ESV The same day Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection, and they asked him a question, (24) saying, “Teacher, Moses said, ‘If a man dies having no children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother.’ (25) Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died, and having no offspring left his wife to his brother. (26) So too the second and third, down to the seventh. (27) After them all, the woman died. (28) In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had her.” (29) But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. (30) For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. (31) And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: (32) ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” (33) And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching. (34) But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together.
    Notice Jesus’ tone of voice as he explains their lack of knowledge. I have not found any reference in the OT that would identify that those to whom Jesus was speaking to should have understood about the marriages in heaven. But, Jesus knew the root problem, a concept that he said they had no excuse for mis-understanding. That Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are still living even though their bodies are dead. They knew that for certain and we know for certain, because there is documentation in scriptures of their burial even to the location in which they were buried.
    Gen 25:10 ESV the field that Abraham purchased from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried, with Sarah his wife.
    Gen 35:29 ESV And Isaac breathed his last, and he died and was gathered to his people, old and full of days. And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.
    Gen 49:33 ESV When Jacob finished commanding his sons, he drew up his feet into the bed and breathed his last and was gathered to his people.
    Gen 50:12-15 ESV Thus his sons did for him as he had commanded them, (13) for his sons carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave of the field at Machpelah, to the east of Mamre, which Abraham bought with the field from Ephron the Hittite to possess as a burying place. (14) After he had buried his father, Joseph returned to Egypt with his brothers and all who had gone up with him to bury his father. (15) When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.”
    All the Jews knew that these men had died and were buried. Yet, Jesus scolded them because they did not understand that, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were not dead!

    How different are we today? Our commentaries still express the same mis-understanding as the complete Nation of Jewish scholars. They are denying the direct message of Jesus. Are we not supposed to be offspring of Abraham? If Jesus documented that Abraham was still alive even though his body is still in the grave, should we not also be alive beyond the death and burial of our bodies?
    Now this brings us to the identifying of the part of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob which is still alive. Since all OT writers mis-understood the message which Jesus said was delivered to them, by God. Could there be a mystery as to why they did not properly identify the a particular word that they used?

    With these thoughts in mind let us notice more comments from Jesus. Continued.

  28. Larry Cheek says:

    Continued.
    (Joh 11:25 ESV) Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, (26) and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

    Joh 6:40 ESV For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

    Joh 6:47-48 ESV Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. (48) I am the bread of life.

    Joh 6:49-51 ESV Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. (50) This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. (51) I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

    Joh 6:57-58 ESV As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. (58) This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”

    Joh 6:63 ESV It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

    Joh 8:52 ESV The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’

    Then we listen to Paul as he tells about the mortal body being raised from death to live again.
    Rom 8:9-14 ESV You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. (10) But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. (11) If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. (12) So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. (13) For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (14) For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
    But, his words seem odd as we have listened to Jesus explaining, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, (26) and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die”
    Jesus says the dead will be resurrected. But, the believer who is living shall never die.
    The only way I can understand this is to believe that he is explaining that the living will be just as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob they were still living even while their bodies are in the grave. In other words there is a part of these humans which did not die as the physical body died.

    What would that portion of the body be named? There are many references I scripture to the human being made up of body, soul and spirit. In the picture portrayed in Revelation of the souls under the altar, you have expressed that they really should be identified as (lives) rather than (soul) because soul has more references to our bodies (I assume then the soul is supposed to die when the body dies). But, the most obvious thing about those under the altar is that they were alive. We are assured that they were not made alive in the resurrection because the resurrection had not taken place at that time. This fact is authenticated by the message which was delivered to them.
    Rev 6:11 ESV Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.
    Christians were still on earth.
    Then in chapter 7 John sees this huge multitude dressed in white robes. Are these the resurrected bodies of those who washed themselves in the blood or would these be the (lives) or (souls) just as those were under the altar?

    The point of this is that whatever name you apply to those alive under the altar (life or soul) or those in the white robes they were living (not dead) and their bodies were still in the ground.
    Continuing to chapter 14 Christians were still dying on earth.
    Rev 14:12-13 ESV Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. (13) And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”

    As we look again whether it would be correct to call these under the altar (Souls) or (Lives) the same terminology that has been used to identify which one was correct must be used to correct the following. The terms expressed in scripture; Body, Soul and Spirit should be the same equivalent as Body, Life and Spirit? Soul or Life are the only options available, Life would not replace Body or Spirit in this identity of a human.

    To say that (Soul) is improper identity to be attached to those under the altar because it is not something that continues beyond the death of the body, yet admit that the term (Life) is present admits that there is a portion of the dead body which is still alive beyond death of the body.

    So my conclusion; if a concept looks like a duck and has all the identifying features of a duck it matters what name you attach to it is still a duck.

    Of course I could be wrong, but I have found no way to synchronize these communications with the message that you have given.

  29. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Larry,

    1. Please see my earlier comment to Alan. I think it sorts through some of the issues you raise.

    2. You’ve not shown that any OT passages uses “soul” to mean “the eternal, disembodied part of man that survives death.” You made arguments that there was an OT doctrine of an afterlife. I agree. But not that the afterlife is “souls” in heaven. Might be true, but it’s not found in the OT.

    3. Notice from your own quotations how often Jesus himself equates “resurrection” with “eternal life.” For example,

    (Joh 11:25 ESV) Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, (26) and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

    Joh 6:40 ESV For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

    “Resurrect” and “raise him up” are terms for a bodily resurrection. That’s how Jesus’ listeners would have heard him. It’s the technical meaning of the words in this context. And so, when Jesus says those with faith in Jesus “should have eternal life,” he is using “life” in parallel with resurrection. It’s a Hebraic parallel — saying the same thing in two similar ways, as was typical of the Jews of that day and in the OT.

    In First Century Judaism, the question was whether there would be a general resurrection (as we learn from Josephus, the Gospels, and Acts). Sadducees said no. The Pharisees said yes, and they relied heavily on Daniel. The question of life in heaven between now and the resurrection wasn’t discussed because they were wrestling with the eternal state of the dead, rather than their temporary state.

    4. With that in mind, take the passage you cite —

    (Matt. 22:25-34 ESV) 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first married and died, and having no offspring left his wife to his brother. 26 So too the second and third, down to the seventh. 27 After them all, the woman died. 28 In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be? For they all had her.” 29 But Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 31 And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” 33 And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching. 34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together.

    The question asked was about the resurrection. Again: “resurrection” refers to what happens at the Second Coming when bodies rise out of the grave. The word does not refer to souls going to heaven and leaving bodies behind. All doubt on this point is resolved in NT Wright magisterial book .

    Therefore, Jesus was being asked about the general resurrection — out of the grave as described in Dan 12:2-3. The Sadducees argued that the Torah said nothing about the resurrection. When Jesus says God is God of the living, he is specifically addressing the general resurrection — not souls leaving the body. After all, even the Greeks believed in a disembodied afterlife. It was the idea of resurrection — a bodily resurrection — that offended the philosophers on Mars Hills.

    5. Now, Paul uses “soul” or psyche to refer to our MORTAL natures in 1 Cor 15. Gen 1 uses nephesh (psyche in the LXX) to refer to animals — mortal beings. The same terminology is found in Revelation —

    (Rev. 8:9 ESV) A third of the living creatures [psyche = soul] in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.

    (Rev. 12:11 ESV) And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives [psyche = soul] even unto death.

    (Rev. 16:3 ESV) The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became like the blood of a corpse, and every living thing [psyche = soul] died that was in the sea.

    In Rev 12:11, “soul” obviously means “life” because giving up one’s soul results in death. It’s their mortal being.

    In Rev 8:9, as in Gen 1, “soul” refers to animals in the sea — who die because of their mortality.

    Obviously, the author of John uses “soul” to refer to our mortality and the mortality of animals. It means “live” or “lives” but not “eternal souls than cannot die.”

    6. Now, as I said to Alan, there are great scholars — far better scholars than me — who believe that we live in a disembodied state in heaven awaiting the resurrection. They may be right. But if they are, what’s in heaven is not our “soul.”

    7. Those who take the in-between existence position find support in Rev 7 — as you suggest.

    (Rev. 7:9-10 ESV) 9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

    But under the More than Conquerors interpretation of Revelation, this passage is parallel with Rev 21-22 — it’s descriptive of the victory of God over his enemies. This is describing the blessed state of the saints after the Second Coming, not while awaiting the Second Coming.

    Regarding Rev 6,

    (Rev. 6:9-11 ESV) 9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. 10 They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.

    I won’t repeat what I said in the post on this passage. I would add that they were “told to rest a little longer.” Of course, the NT routinely refers to the dead as sleeping, and the word translated “rest” can refer to sleep, just as “rest” may in English. The word is used of sleep in Matt. 26:45; Mark 14:41. They are not alive in Paradise awaiting their reward. They asleep, but their martyred lives cry out for God’s vengeance.

    We aren’t surprised to find,

    (Rev. 14:13 ESV) And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”

    “Rest” is the same Greek word, and it refers to the dead. The rest from their labors — but nothing says they exist in a paradisiacal garden awaiting in bliss awaiting Jesus’ return. They are resting (asleep) in the Lord. (Too many verses to bother citing use ‘sleep’ to refer to the Christian dead.)

    I’m not sure I picked up every new argument. If I missed something, let me know.

    As I said to Alan, I’m not going to lose sleep over whether people wait in heaven in Paradise for the Second Coming or skip straight to the resurrection. But it’s discussions like this that force me to re-study the texts and refine my arguments. This has been educational and fun because, well, Bible study always is. And I appreciate you pushing me. It’s good for me. You may yet prove me wrong. After all, NT Wright himself disagrees with me.

    Thank you.

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