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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 31: Of the State of Man after Death and Of the Resurrection of the Dead - Commentary

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Chapter 31: Of the State of Man after Death and Of the Resurrection of the Dead

This chapter concerns itself with eschatology, which is the doctrine of the last things. It discusses questions concerning what happens after we die, the second coming of the Lord Jesus, and the resurrection of the just and unjust.

I hold to the Amillennial view of eschatology, therefore what is written here will reflect that eschatology. Basically, Amillennialism teaches that the thousand years of Revelation 20 are symbolic for the whole time between Christ’s Ascension and Second Coming. When He comes that will be the end of everything. The rapture, general resurrection and final judgment will take place, then God will usher in the World to Come. There are neither multiple resurrections nor multiple judgments. There are no 7 years of Great Tribulation. There are no two peoples of God, Israel and the Church. Rather, the Church is the Israel of God. The promises of restoration and blessing pertain not to the Fallen World, but to the World to Come. We do not believe that the Bible teaches a golden age on this Fallen Earth.

In paragraphs 2-3 there is a case for Amillennial eschatology and a critique of Premillennialism throughout the sections.

§1 The Intermediate State

  1. The bodies of men after death return to dust, and see corruption; but their souls, which neither die nor sleep, having an immortal subsistence, immediately return to God who gave them. The souls of the righteous being then made perfect in holiness, are received into paradise, where they are with Christ, and behold the face of God in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies; and the souls of the wicked are cast into hell; where they remain in torment and utter darkness, reserved to the judgment of the great day; besides these two places, for souls separated from their bodies, the Scripture acknowledgeth none.
    1. Gen. 2:17; 3:19; Acts 13:36; Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:22[1]
    2. Gen. 2:7; James 2:26; Matt. 10:28; Eccles. 12:7
    3. Ps. 23:6; 1 Kings 8:27-49; Isa. 63:15; 66:1; Luke 23:43; Acts 1:9-11; 3:21; 2 Cor. 5:6-8; 12:2-4; Eph. 4:10; Phil. 1:21-23; Heb. 1:3,4:14-15; 6:20; 8:1; 9:24; 12:23; Rev. 6:9-11; 14:13; 20:4-6
    4. Luke 16:22-26; Acts 1:25; 1 Peter 3:19; 2 Peter 2:9

The bodies of men after death return to dust (Gen. 3:19), the original substance, but their souls...having an immortal subsistence (i.e., a state of existence)...neither die nor sleep and immediately return to God (Eccles. 12:7). Our bodily death is not the cessation of our life. When our bodies die, our souls immediately return to God Who gave them. There is no period between our physical death and our returning to God. After our last breath, we immediately return to God. There is no period of waiting or soul sleep. But this returning to God of our souls does not mean we remain with God. Only the souls of the righteous now having been made perfect...are received into paradise, where they are with Christ (Heb. 12:23; Phil. 1:21-23). What a blessing and a privilege to be with Christ for all eternity. The One Whom we love and adore and to behold His face is the greatest blessing which we can imagine. We will likewise behold the face of God in light and glory, no longer afraid or trembling at His sight or in fear of our lives because of His glory. The souls of the righteous await in heaven the redemption of their bodies (Rom. 8:23) at the Second Coming of the Lord Jesu...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 7: Of God's Covenant - Commentary made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” 

The Davidic Covenant

The covenant of God with David and His promise is in many ways similar to the Abrahamic Covenant, both in its fulfillment and the “I will” of God and “you shall” of the human party. As a Christian and an Amillennialist at that (see my case for Amillennialism in Chapter 31), I will make the case that the Davidic Covenant is currently being fulfilled by the Lord Jesus Christ.

God’s Story

Since the days of Moses and Joshua have passed, the people of God were settled in the land promised to their fathers. But the people were stiff-necked and disobedient, as God testified of them in the wilderness (Exod. 32:9). They did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and forgot the God Who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt. As promised by the Mosaic Covenant, so the judgments of God came upon Israel and they were ruled by their enemies and taken captive. Then the Lord would graciously raise up judges when they would come to repentance and seek His face so that they would free them. That went for about 400 years.

Then the people came and demanded a king to be set over them, just like the other nations they were surrounded with when the LORD Himself was their king. The Lord gave them Saul, a man whom Israel loved and followed after. The Lord blessed Saul until Saul disobeyed the word of the Lord. When Saul disobeyed the word of the Lord and thus disregarded God, the Lord rejected Him (1 Sam. 15). At that time, when the Lord abandoned Saul, the Lord sent unclean spirits upon him that would torment him (1 Sam. 16:14). They soon learned that a certain youth could drive the spirit away by his playing on the lyre and therefore Saul could be at rest. That youth was none other than David. One of the icons and most known people from the Bible. A biblical hero and an example of faith and failures. 

The Lord chose David to be “prince” over His people Israel because David was a man after the Lord’s heart (1 Sam. 13:14). David wanted to follow the Lord wholly and carry out His will with no delay. He was the one chosen despite all circumstances and appearances. But in the choice of David, the Lord was fulfilling what was prophesied by Jacob concerning his son Judah:

Gen. 49:10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.

Saul was from the tribe of Benjamin and concerning that tribe, Jacob did not have any kingly blessings (Gen. 49:27). But clearly, kingship and rulership are promised to the tribe of Judah of whom David is the man after God’s own heart. After the Lord established David as king and after Saul was gone, the Lord promised that He would bless David and will always keep a descendant of his on the throne of Israel.

God’s Covenant with David

We find the main text in 2 Samuel 7 and its parallel in 1 Chronicles 17:11-14. I’d like to highlight some things from the text as our starting point about the covenant. But before we do that, let us get a little bit of context. 

The Lord had given the kingdom of Israel to David and He has clearly been with him and giving him victory. David is perplexed in his heart by the fact that he lives in a great house, but the Ark of the Lord stays in tents. Therefore, David decides that he wants to build a house for the Ark of the Lord. But the word of the Lord comes to t...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 19: Of the Law of God - Commentary

...cripture and thereby show that the natural law was summarized on Sinai in ten commandments. In this section, I will unashamedly quote a lot from various authors from whom I’ve benefited. I have consulted the following works:

I will have things to say myself, but I will likewise let men much wiser than me explain the Decalogue of God to us and to our benefit.

It was a great and very helpful observation that I read in Calvin first and which is expressed in the words of the WLC that “where a duty is commanded, the contrary sin is forbidden; and, where a sin is forbidden, the contrary duty is commanded: so, where a promise is annexed, the contrary threatening is included; and, where a threatening is annexed, the contrary promise is included” (Q. 99, rule 4)[15]. This is a very helpful observation to see that the Decalogue not only calls us to abstain from sin, but at the same time to do the contrary of sin. Thus the sixth commandment not only commands unlawful killing, but also calls us to protect the lives of people and count life as precious. The ninth commandment not only commands refraining from false witness and lies, but also telling the truth at all times. I believe this is what is meant by the statement that the moral law was “summarized” in the Decalogue. To preserve life, to speak the truth, to be faithful to one’s spouse, to love God, to honor elders are self-evident moral truths, yet they are not explicitly commanded in the Decalogue, but we implicitly acknowledge that they’re included in the moral law.

Preface To The Decalogue

Exod. 20:1-2 And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

God delivered Israel from bondage by grace. They certainly did not deserve the greatest redemption in the Old Testament and throughout their history, they demonstrated that. But the Lord delivered them according to His promise to the fathers and brought them with a mighty arm from slavery. He freed them by grace and now He gave them His laws so that they would walk in His ways. Israel received the moral, ceremonial and civil laws of God. In Exodus 20, the Lord Himself speaks to them the Ten Words of His covenant.

It was the Lord Himself, not through the ministry of Moses as the other cases, Who spoke the Decalogue to all the people of Israel from Mt. Sinai (Deut. 4:33, 36; 5:4, 22). This demonstrates the special care of God concerning these commandments and displays their primacy that God Himself would declare their words to the people without a mediator. This shows us that God sees them as very important, but this also implies certain things as Thomas Watson observes. If God truly spoke these words then:

  1. We must hear all these wor...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 11: Of Justification - Commentary

... for breaking the Covenant of Works, namely, death (Gen. 2:16-17; see chapter 7 on the Covenant of Works and its curse)! The opposite of death is life, which means that we have been freed from the curse of Adam (though this does not mean that we have been freed from physical death, see Chapter 31 for more on this) and received the blessing of the Covenant of Works, which was eternal life. Furthermore, v. 19 says that the “many [who] were made sinners”, will “be made righteous.” And this righteousness is “not by their own obedience; nor by their own obedience and Christ’s together; but by his sole and single obedience to the law of God: and the persons made righteous by it are not all the posterity of Adam, and yet not a few of them; but “many”, even all the elect of God, and seed of Christ; these are all made righteous in the sight of God, are justified from all their sins, and entitled to eternal life and happiness.”[19]

As to the meaning of the word “made” in connection to “made sinners” and “made righteous”, we understand it to mean as “brought into the state” of sinfulness or the state of “righteousness.” Some commentators translate the Greek with “constituted.” The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges comments:

made sinners … made righteous] Better, constituted, “put into a position” of guilt and righteousness respectively. Here the whole context points to not a moral change but a legal standing. In Adam “the many” became, in the eye of the Law, guilty; in Christ “the many” shall become, in the eye of the same Law, righteous. In other words, they shall be justified.—“Shall be made:”—the future refers to the succession of believers. The justification of all was, ideally, complete already; but, actually, it would await the times of individual believing.—“Many:”—lit., in both cases, “the many.” See on Rom 5:15.—“Obedience:”—here probably the special reference is to the Redeemer’s “delight to do the will” of His Father, “even unto the death of the cross.” (Psa 40:8; Php 2:8.)[20]

The International Critical Commentary New Testament observes:

κατεστάθησανκατασταθήσονται: ‘were constituted’ … ‘shall be constituted.’ But in what sense ‘constituted’? The Greek word has the same ambiguity as the English. If we define further, the definition must come from the context. Here the context is sufficiently clear: it covers on the one hand the whole result of Adam’s Fall for his descendants prior to and independently of their own deliberate act of sin; and it covers on the other hand the whole result of the redeeming act of Christ so far as that too is accomplished objectively and apart from active concurrence on the part of the Christian. The fut. κατασταθήσονται has reference not to the Last Judgement but to future generations of Christians; to all in fact who reap the benefit of the Cross.[21]

What an awesome and amazing grace that should not only grant us the forgiveness of our many sins but constitute and declare us righteous!

The promise of the New Covenant is not merely that our sins are forgiven, but God says “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jer. 31:34). Not only our past sins, or present sins or future sins; all our sins are and will be forgiven! This is the glorious promise of God to us (1 John 1:8-9).

Other blessings are connected to justification. Romans 5:1 says that “since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” This is n...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 26: Of the Church - Commentary

...o shut that kingdom against the impenitent, both by the Word and censures; and to open it unto penitent sinners, by the ministry of the gospel, and by absolution from censures, as occasion shall require.

Christ has given government in the church distinct from the civil government. The keys of the kingdom and power are given to these “Church officers.” This is the first difference between what is called Congregationalism and the Presbyterian form of church polity. When we read this paragraph of our Confession, we see that all “power and authority” are given to the local church, not to “Church officers.” The second difference comes in Chapter 31 called “Of Synods and Councils”:

1. For the better government and further edification of the Church, there ought to be such assemblies as are commonly called synods or councils.

3. It belongeth to synods and councils, ministerially, to determine controversies of faith, and cases of conscience; to set down rules and directions for the better ordering of the public worship of God, and government of his Church; to receive complaints in cases of maladministration, and authoritatively to determine the same: which decrees and determinations, if consonant to the Word of God, are to be received with reverence and submission, not only for their agreement with the Word, but also for the power whereby they are made, as being an ordinance of God, appointed thereunto in his Word.

4. All synods or councils since the apostles’ times, whether general or particular, may err, and many have erred; therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith or practice, but to be used as a help in both.

In a sense, the authority given to the local church in this paragraph of our confession is transferred to the synod or council of the Presbyterian system. This is not a small difference. The Presbyterian system requires that there be an external authority above the local church which directs its government and order of worship. Our Confession speaks about keeping relations with other bodies and other churches (paragraph 15), but they merely have an advising role, never “authoritatively to determine” things. John Frame, himself a Presbyterian, gives a short description of that form of church government:

In the presbyterian system, common in churches called Reformed as well as Presbyterian, there is a plurality of elders in every church. (Presbyterian comes from the Greek word for elder.) These are elected by the people. The elders meet as the ruling body of each particular church, and the elders of a region meet together as a broader court, dealing with the ministry of the whole area. Usually once a year, all the elders of the denomination, or a representative group of them, meet as a General Assembly, or Synod, to resolve questions of importance to the whole church, as did the apostles and other leaders in Acts 15.[39]

More may be said about Presbyterian polity, but I am not qualified to speak and criticize it. Pick a decent work on ecclesiology or a systematic theology and you will encounter the arguments for and against each church polity.

Congregational Polity

Our Baptist forefathers shared a common polity with the Congregationalists. The Congregationalists baptized infants but did not admit them into church membership. Many of the statements in this chapter of our Confession are identical to that of the Savoy appendix titled, “The Institution of Churches, and the Order Appointed in Them by Jesus C...

1689 Second Baptist Confession of Faith Highlighted

...gunworthy of the Lord’s table, and cannot, without great sin against him, while they remain such, partake of these holy mysteries, or be admitted thereunto; yea, whosoever shall receive unworthily, are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, eating and drinking judgment to themselves.
  1. Matt. 7:6; Eph. 4:17-24; 5:3-9; Exod. 20:7, 16; 1 Cor. 5:9-13; 2 John 10; Acts 2:41-42; 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:17-22, 33-34
  2. 1 Cor. 11:20-22, 27-34

Chapter 31: Of the State of Man after Death and Of the Resurrection of the Dead [Return] [Commentary]

  1. The bodies of men after death return to dust, and see corruption; but their souls, which neither die nor sleep, having an immortal subsistence, immediately return to God who gave them. The souls of the righteous being then made perfect in holiness, are received into paradise, where they are with Christ, and behold the face of God in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies; and the souls of the wicked are cast into hell; where they remain in torment and utter darkness, reserved to the judgment of the great day; besides these two places, for souls separated from their bodies, the Scripture acknowledgeth none.
    1. Gen. 2:17; 3:19; Acts 13:36; Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:22
    2. Gen. 2:7; James 2:26; Matt. 10:28; Eccles. 12:7
    3. Ps. 23:6; 1 Kings 8:27-49; Isa. 63:15; 66:1; Luke 23:43; Acts 1:9-11; 3:21; 2 Cor. 5:6-8; 12:2-4; Eph. 4:10; Phil. 1:21-23; Heb. 1:3,4:14-15; 6:20; 8:1; 9:24; 12:23; Rev. 6:9-11; 14:13; 20:4-6
    4. Luke 16:22-26; Acts 1:25; 1 Peter 3:19; 2 Peter 2:9
  1. At the last day, such of the saints as are found alive, shall not sleep, but be changed; and all the dead shall be raised up with the selfsame bodies, and none other; although with different qualities, which shall be united again to their souls forever.
    1. 1 Cor. 15:50-53; 2 Cor. 5:1-4; 1 Thess. 4:17
    2. Dan. 12:2; John 5:28-29; Acts 24:15
    3. Job 19:26-27; John 5:28-29; 1 Cor. 15:35-38, 42-44
    4. 1 Cor. 15:42-44, 52-54
    5. Dan. 12:2; Matt. 25:46
  1. The bodies of the unjust shall, by the power of Christ, be raised to dishonour; the bodies of the just, by his Spirit, unto honour, and be made conformable to his own glorious body.
    1. Dan. 12:2; John 5:28-29
    2. Rom. 8:1, 11; 1 Cor. 15:45; Gal. 6:8
    3. 1 Cor. 15:42-49
    4. Rom. 8:17, 29-30; 1 Cor. 15:20-23, 48-49; Phil. 3:21; Col. 1:18; 3:4; 1 John 3:2; Rev. 1:5

Chapter 32: Of the Last Judgment [Return] [Commentary]

  1. God hath appointed a day wherein he will judge the world in righteousness, by Jesus Christ; to whom all power and judgment is given of the Father; in which day, not only the apostate angels shall be judged, but likewise all persons that have lived upon the earth shall appear before the tribunal of Christ, to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds, and to receive according to what they have done in the body, whether good or evil.
    1. John 5:22, 27; Acts 17:31
    2. 1 Cor. 6:3; Jude 6
    3. Matt. 16:27; 25:31-46; Acts 17:30-31; Rom. 2:6-16; 2 Thess. 1:5-10; 2 Peter 3:1-13; Rev. 20:11-15
    4. 2 Cor. 5:10, 1 Cor. 4:5, Matt. 12:36
  1. The end of God’s appointing this day, is for the manifestation of the glory of his mercy, in the eternal salvation of the elect; and of his justice, in the eternal damnation of the reprobate, who are wicked and disobedient; for then shall the righteous go into everlasting life, and receive that fulness of joy and glory with everlasting rewards, in ...

Welcome To The Staunch Calvinist

Welcome to The Staunch Calvinist. This is a place where Calvinistic Theology will be displayed. A place where the Doctrines of Grace will be explained and defended. This is a place where the Sovereignty of God is cherished and promoted. We hope you will be ministered to through the material on the website. Our goal is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ and honor Him. “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:14

The following document may help you to understand the Biblical case for ‘Calvinism’: God’s Absolute Sovereignty – A case for Calvinism

I have two sections dedicated to the Doctrines of Grace: defining the Doctrines of Grace & defending the Doctrines of Grace, which are taken from the document above. In the general section, you will find some book reviews and the resources from which I mainly drew the content of the “God’s Absolute Sovereignty” document.

As a Reformed Baptist, I started the 1689 Confession section wherein I seek to explain the chapters and make a biblical case for what is said on a particular subject. As of 18/09/2016, the commentary is complete:

  1. Of the Holy Scriptures
  2. Of God and the Holy Trinity (the attributes of God and a case for the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity)
  3. Of God’s Decree (I make a case for predestination, election, reprobation and absolute sovereignty even over evil and sin)
  4. Of Creation
  5. Of Divine Providence
  6. Of the Fall of Man, Of Sin, And of the Punishment Thereof (Total Depravity)
  7. Of God’s Covenant (1689 Federalism)
  8. Of Christ the Mediator (including a case for the Substitutionary Atonement, Active and Passive Obedience of Christ, Definite Atonement and answers to passages used against the doctrine)
  9. Of Free Will (with the help of Jonathan Edwards, the consistency of moral agency being found in carrying one’s desires, the inconsistencies of libertarian free will, explanation of necessity and inability)
  10. Of Effectual Calling (with a case for infant salvation)
  11. Of Justification (faith is a gift and regeneration precedes faith)
  12. Of Adoption
  13. Of Sanctification
  14. Of Saving Faith
  15. Of Repentance Unto Life and Salvation
  16. Of Good Works
  17. Of The Perseverance Of The Saints (A positive case for the Reformed doctrine and responses to passages such as Hebrews 6 and the like)
  18. Of The Assurance Of Grace And Salvation
  19. Of The Law Of God (Threefold Division of the Law, the Decalogue before Moses, a brief exposition of the Decalogue, ceremonial and civil laws, the abiding moral law under the New Covenant in the OT prophecy and the NT, Threefold Uses of the Law, The Law and the Gospel)
  20. Of The Gospel, And Of The Extent Of The Grace Thereof
  21. Of Christian Liberty And Liberty of Conscience
  22. Of Religious Worship And the Sabbath Day (A case for the Regulative Principle of Worship and the Christian Sabbath)
  23. Of Lawful Oaths And Vows
  24. Of The Civil Magistrate
  25. Of Marriage
  26. Of The Church
  27. Of the Communion of Saints
  28. Of Baptism And The Lord’s Supper
  29. Of Baptism
  30. Of The Lord’s Supper
  31. Of The State Of Man After Death And Of The Resurrection Of The Dead (Intermediate State Hades, Sheol, Heaven; A Case for Amillennial Eschatology; critique of Premillennialism)
  32. Of The Last Judgment (Endless punishment in Hell contra Annihilationism)

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 1: Of the Holy Scriptures - Commentary

...Therefore, our interpretation of the Bible should likewise not contradiction the Bible. I cannot tell you how many believers are not aware of this principle, and how essential and beneficial it is. When speaking with believers about eschatology, for example, how many of them do not first of all jump into the Apocalypse and difficult Old Testament prophecies and try to interpret those? We believe the proper manner of approaching Eschatology, and for that matter—any subject is first to go to the plain teaching and then to the difficult (see Chapter 31 for an illustration of this principle on Eschatology). The assertion of this doctrine and of this paragraph simply is: the Bible is the best interpreter of the Bible. We should let the Bible interpret itself. The Holy Spirit who spoke in the Old Testament interprets the Old Testament in the New Testament. How many times do we have the apostles in the New interpret prophecies and texts in the Old, which do not seem clear to us when only reading the Old Testament text. That is our fault. The proper interpretation of those passages is the Apostolic interpretation given through the same Spirit. This is called the Analogy of Faith, or the Analogia Fidei in Latin. Theopedia explains why it is called such:

In Romans 12:6 Paul says that each one was to exercise his gift of prophecy, i.e., of teaching, “according to the proportion of faith.” The Greek word for proportion here is analogia, and hence the phrase analogy of faith. The meaning is, that the utterances of the “prophet” were not to fluctuate according to his own impulses or independent thoughts, but were to be in accordance with the truth revealed to him as a believer. Following the Reformation, this phrase was used to mean that all Scripture was to be interpreted with reference to all other Scripture. In other words, no single text or expression of Scripture was to be isolated or interpreted in a way contrary to its general teaching.[54]

How many times have we heard Dispensationalists say that the promises to Israel about the descendants or the land have not been fulfilled? I say this from experience. God promised to Abraham: “I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore” (Gen. 22:17). We may get the impression that this means that his descendants will be limitless or something. Yet, if we keep reading the Old Testament we see that such language is applied to the Israelites even before the coming of Christ. For example, we read in 1 Kings 4:20-21:

Judah and Israel were as many as the sand by the sea. They ate and drank and were happy. 21 Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the Euphrates to the land of the Philistines and to the border of Egypt. They brought tribute and served Solomon all the days of his life.

Not only does this fulfill the descendants’ promise, but also the Land promise (Gen. 15:18-21). In Deuteronomy 10:22, we read Moses saying to the present generation that “now the LORD your God has made you as numerous as the stars of heaven.” Hebrews 11:12 says of Abraham, “Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.” We see that our first impression of what numerous as the sand of the sea and stars of heaven means is not the same as the biblical authors’. All the promises of God to the Fathers are said to have been fulfilled by the time o...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 6: Of the Fall of Man, Of Sin, And of the Punishment Thereof - Commentary

...ever “unfair” (Deut. 32:4; Gen. 18:25; Job 34:10). None of us would have done otherwise if we were in their shoes, being tempted by the deceiver. Because of Adam and Eve’s transgression of God’s Law, the guilt of sin is imputed (attributed) to all their posterity and also the punishment, hence even children die (that’s the punishment of disobedience). This is not to imply that all children go to Hell anymore than to say that the reason that Christians die is that God is punishing them (see Chapter 31 for more on this subject and chapter 10 on infant salvation). The corrupted nature was carried over, transmitted, transported and imparted to all his descendants coming by “ordinary generation” (excluding the Lord Jesus Christ, Who was the seed of the woman, not man and conceived by the Holy Spirit).

This doctrine of Original Sin or the Federal Headship of Adam is best seen in Romans 5:12-21. Let’s take a look at Romans 5:12:

Rom. 5:12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— 

Here we see the entrance of sin into the world through Adam and by the breaking of God’s law, came the punishment upon sin–death (Gen. 2:16-17). Because of that disobedience and having Adam as the representative, all sinned. This is not referring to people actually committing sin, but this refers to all who were in Adam or had Adam as their covenant head. In the mind of God, when he sinned, they sinned. This is confirmed by the fact that people die not (necessarily, or always) because of their personal sin, but because of Adam’s sin (Rom. 5:15). Death was the penalty for Adam’s transgression and thus it is imputed and transferred to all his descendants. This is seen in the tragic death of many infants who have not yet sinned themselves, but are born sinful in Adam and receive his punishment–death. The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23), why would “sinless” babies die? Some may want to say that death is just natural in the world, no, it’s not. From a secular point of view, it obviously is, but not from a biblical view. Death came through man. It was not there when God created a “very good” creation (Rom. 5:12, 15, 17; Gen. 1:31). The verse is best understood to refer to the fact that when Adam sinned, we sinned in him. Wayne Grudem notes the following:

The aorist indicative verb hēmarton in the historical narrative indicates a completed past action. Here Paul is saying that something happened and was completed in the past, namely, that “all men sinned.” But it was not true that all men had actually committed sinful actions at the time that Paul was writing, because some had not even been born yet, and many others had died in infancy before committing any conscious acts of sin. So Paul must be meaning that when Adam sinned, God considered it true that all men sinned in Adam.[2]

John MacArthur says the following on Romans 5:12 –

5:12 just as sin came. Not a particular sin, but the inherent propensity to sin entered the human realm; men became sinners by nature. Adam passed to all his descendants the inherent sinful nature he possessed because of his first disobedience. That nature is present from the moment of conception (Ps. 51:5), making it impossible for man to live in a way that pleases God. Satan, the father of sin (1 John 3:8), first brought temptation to Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:1-7). through one man. When Adam sinned, all mankind sinned in his loins (Rom....

Extensive review of Jonathan Menn's Biblical Eschatology

Review and summary of
Biblical Eschatology
by Jonathan Menn


I’ve often seen this book in my Amazon Wishlist and asked myself, “Is it worth it? I don’t know the author, but it seems that he is amillennial.” My question was answered when I came across a YouTube series from ECLEA (Equipping Church Leaders East Africa), where Dr. Jonathan Menn is the director, entitled “Biblical Eschatology.” That series is based on a book also called Biblical Eschatology which ECLEA has published and which is available for free. Upon watching the series and skimming through the ECLEA book, I was impressed how thorough the author was and how widely read he was. Then I compared the table of contents of his larger book and the ECLEA book and came to the conclusion that they dealt with the same subjects, only that his book was much larger and thorough. That motivated it me all the more to get the larger book. The summaries of his book which are also available at ThirdMill also helped in my decision.

Now that introductions are out of the way, I think that this is one of the best books on eschatology from an amillennial viewpoint. My very favorite is probably Sam Storms’ Kingdom Come: The Amillennial Alternative because it was the first book that I read after becoming an amillennial through a YouTube video. The High King of Heaven from Dean Davis is likewise a favorite of mine because it was thorough and dealt with many Old Testament prophecies and interpreting them through the lens of the New Testament just like the Apostles did (see my review here). But Dr. Menn’s book is by far the most comprehensive. The author is widely read as the 20 pages of the bibliography can testify. In one sense, the book accumulates the best scholarship and summarizes it. This book is filled footnotes to all kinds of authors from various eschatological viewpoints.

Note: Unless otherwise stated, all the ellipses, square brackets and italics in citations are not my own, but Dr. Menn’s.

Hermeneutical issues

In the Introduction, Dr. Menn explains the distinction between individual and corporate eschatology. He then proceeds to define the major hermeneutical issues which must be decided when thinking about eschatology. These are:

  • Do the second coming of Christ, the resurrection and judgment of all humanity, and the inauguration of the eternal kingdom, occur as aspects of one great event, or are they separated by a temporary messianic kingdom that lasts a thousand years?
  • Are we able to predict when any of the “end-time” events will occur by paying attention to the events transpiring in the Middle East or other geopolitical occurrences?
  • What is the role of the church in all of this?

The major eschatological positions (premillennialism, postmillennialism and amillennialism) differ on the nature and timing of the kingdom in Revelation 20. He then proceeds to briefly lay out the eschatological positions and words which are often used.

Interpreting prophecy

Nature of Prophecy

In chapter 2, entitled “Interpreting Prophecy and Apocalyptic” he lays out the hermeneutics needed which will be used in interpreting prophecy. This is mainly directed against dispensational premillennialism with its insistence on “consistent literal interpretation,” especially of prophecy. Before we a priori decide upon a “literal interpretation” of prophecy, we must first understand the nature of prophecy. The prophets primarily did two things: “(1) They warned God’s peopl...