The Staunch Calvinist

"Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God." - Jonathan Edwards


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

...ave already been defeated through Christ (John 12:31), but they don’t want to admit defeat. They want to cause as much harm as they can. These are the last days for the city of man.

The last days of Daniel in which God will set up a kingdom that cannot be shaken have already come and we are in them now! What was future for Daniel, was at hand, quick and soon for John’s readers. In Revelation, we read of the establishment of the present first stage of the Kingdom in Revelation 12. The book of Revelation is symbolical and speaks about the time since Christ’s first coming and until the consummation. We now turn our attention as to how we should read the book.


How are we to read the book of Revelation? It seems from 1:1 that we should understand that it is a vision and thus interpret it symbolically, rather than in a wooden literal way. But still, the question stands: How are we to read it? Are we to think that the chapters follow one another in fulfillment? What I mean is: should we read the book of Revelation chronologically? In other words, do the events of chapter X necessarily follow the events of chapter Y? I do not believe so.

I believe that the book of Revelation contains seven parallel visions, which describe the whole time between Christ’s first coming and the consummation from different angles. We are speaking here of parallelism. The book of Revelation describes the events between Christ’s first coming and second coming multiple times and from different angles. This is the idealist Recapitulation/parallelism interpretation. According to this interpretation, the book of Revelation does not prophesy any specific events, other than those connected with the consummation, i.e., the Parousia, resurrection, judgment, and the New Heavens and New Earth. A lot of the symbols and the things written in the Revelation are non-temporal truths about the war between the Kingdom of Man and the Kingdom of God. I do not pretend that I fully understand the book of Revelation. I still have many questions. But I do say that I see a parallelism which I cannot deny. Most importantly, recognizing that the book of Revelation is symbolical, I come to it with all the clear and didactic teachings of the New Testament in mind and in the forefront to interpret the Revelation in the light thereof. Importantly, to say that the Revelation predicts no specific event (aside from those connected with the consummation) and the symbols are largely non-temporal so that they are as much true to its first readers as to us two thousand years later, is not to say that there is no chronological order at all. I also believe in Progressive Parallelism. This says that the visions or cycles of visions move progressively from the first to the Second Coming of Christ and each vision reveals more about the time in between and what will happen.

There have been generally seven parallel visions identified in the book of Revelation, corresponding to its manifold use of the number seven symbolically (e.g., Rev. 1:4; 4:5; 5:1, 6; etc.), which generally symbolizes completion and/or perfection. This means then that these seven visions show us the complete picture which God wants His servants to have for the time between the two comings of Christ. The chapters are generally divided in this way:

  1. Vision #1: Revelation 1-3
  2. Vision #2: Revelation 4-7
  3. Vision #3: Revelation 8-11
  4. Vision #4: Revelation 12-14
  5. Vision #5: Revelation 15-16
  6. Vision #6: Revelation 17-19
  7. ...

Extensive review of Jonathan Menn's Biblical Eschatology, De Openbaring Des Heeren Aan Johannes, pp. 299-303; Herman Bavinck, Gereformeerde Dogmatiek, pp. IV:660-663, §569; B. B. Warfield; Geerhardus Vos, Shorter Writings, pp. 44-45; John Calvin, Tracts and Treatises, p. III:446).

The parallel with Revelation 6:9 also indicates that the reign is currently happening in heaven. This is also consistent with the promises given to the churches in Revelation 2:26-27 and 3:21. Dr. Menn seems to take a combined view of the first resurrection (see pp. 386-289).

(3) In Revelation 20:7-10 we see a Recapitulation of what we’ve previously seen in Revelation 16:14-16 and 19:17-21 (as well as Rev. 6:12-17). The same final battle is fought. These other passages clearly describe the final judgment and final battle; therefore, the structure of Revelation cannot be chronological but is rather recapitulatory. The connection between these passages is not only seen by the use of the same description for “the war” (ton polemon) or the idea of forces being “gathered,” but also in their dependence upon Ezekiel 38-39.

(4) Menn contends that “Rev 20:7-10 and 20:11-15 both describe the final judgment, each description has its own emphasis.” (p. 314). Earlier in the book, he had discussed how the final judgment can be viewed as a battle or as a courtroom proceeding (pp. 302-303). He cites William Shea who explains the emphases: “The earlier of the two [Rev 20-7-10] emphasizes the destruction of the devil and his agents, perhaps because the whole narrative of Rev 20 began with him as its subject. Then the closing scene which follows places its emphasis upon God as the judge, who presents his final judgment at this time.” (p. 314) The description of earth and sky flying away in Revelation 20:11 is a Recapitulation of earlier descriptions of the final judgment in Revelation 6:14; 11:13; 16:20). The description of the final judgment occurs at the second coming which sweetly corresponds to Paul’s statement that death is destroyed at Christ’s coming and the bodily resurrection of the saints in 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54. Revelation 20:14 says that “Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.” He cites Sydney Page who comments that “The symbolic description of the destruction of Death and Hades [at the eschatological judgment] corresponds to Paul’s statement in 1 Cor 15:26. . . . For both John and Paul the last scene in the drama of redemption before the inauguration of the eternal state is the elimination of death.” (p. 315, both ellipses and brackets are Menn’s).

In connection with the last judgment, he notes that dispensationalists see three distinct judgments instead of one final judgment: ‘the judgment of the “nations” to see who will enter the millennial kingdom (Matt 25:31–46); a separate judgment of believers before the “judgment seat of Christ” to receive their rewards (2 Cor 5:10); and the “great white throne” judgment of Rev 20:11–15 which they think applies only to unbelievers. Others see Rev 20:11–15 as the general judgment of all people, believers and unbelievers alike.’ (p. 315) There may be an emphasis on unbelievers in these particular passages, but “since, as previously discussed, the Bible indicates that there is only one general


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

...d commands. An interesting point that I’ve learned from Dr. Philip Ross’ book, the Finger of God, is that perhaps the often thought background of the Father’s declaration (v. 17), comes not from Psalm 2:7, but elsewhere. He writes concerning Jeffery Gibbs argument:

He [Jeffery Gibbs] argues instead that, along with Isaiah 42:1, Jeremiah 38:20 (LXX) is the background: ‘Ephraim is a beloved son to me’, so that Matthew is not portraying Jesus as Servant and King, but as Servant and Israel. After chapters 1-2, Matthew’s narrative ‘emphasizes other Christological themes, most notably that the infant Jesus is the antitype or Recapitulation of Israel as a whole (Matt 2:15)’, and Psalm 2 does not include the ‘beloved’ found in Matthew’s expression or speak in the third person. Furthermore, in Jeremiah 38:20 (LXX), the verbal agreement with υἱός ἀγαπητός (beloved son) is ‘precise’…Thus ‘Matthew presents Jesus at his baptism as God’s son, the “embodiment” of Israel, God’s son.’[64]

Christ fulfills all righteousness by obeying everything that God commanded His people through John concerning baptism. Not that He needed repentance, but because He was representing His people, He likewise had to do the things that they were commanded to do. Therefore, I believe that this passage, along with the other non-disputable uses of pleroo refer to fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. Now we turn our attention to Matthew 5:17.

Joseph Thayer understands the use of pleroo in this passage to mean:

universally and absolutely, to fulfil, i. e. “to cause God’s will (as made known in the law) to be obeyed as it should be, and God’s promises (given through the prophets) to receive fulfilment”: Matthew 5:17;[65]

The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament says the following on the use of pleroo in Matt 5:17:

In Mt. 5:17 (b) the idea is not simply that of validating the law as distinct from abolishing it. The goal of Jesus’ mission is fulfilment. He does not simply affirm the law and the prophets but actualizes the will of God that is declared in them from the standpoint of both promise and demand. An example of such fulfilment may be seen already in Mt. 3:15.[66]

The key to understanding how Christ fulfills the Law and the Prophets is to understand His fulfillment in light of Old Testament prophecy and demands. The Lord Jesus fulfills the Law and the Prophets:

  1. In His person and teaching;
  2. By His obedience; and
  3. In all that he does to actualize these in His followers.

First) The Lord, as prophesied in Isaiah 42:21, was pleased “to magnify his law and make it glorious.” This is exactly what Christ does in the rest of the Sermon on the Mount. He does not add to the moral law of the Old Testament, for all things that He discusses are moral, and not ceremonial issues (e.g., murder, adultery, divorce, oaths, doing good, loving one’s enemies, etc…), but He gives an exposition of the moral law. He, as the Lawgiver, gives the right and proper interpretation of His moral law as summarized in the Decalogue. Throughout His discussion, the Lord does not refer to some quotation from the Old Testament in the usual formula of “it is written”, but by “you have heard it was said…” and that, I believe for the purpose to distinguish from what the Word of God actually said and what was the interpretation of the Rabbis of that law. See above our brief exposition of the Decalogue and especially the sixth and seventh commandments in the New Testament where ...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 22: Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day - Commentary

...e of the commandment that it should be the seventh day of the week. The essence is simply: one day of rest in seven. The particular day of the week must be decided by the divine will.

To close our discussion on Genesis 2, let me give you a quote from John Owen on this passage:

Set aside prejudice, however, and pre-conceived opinions, and any man would think that the institution of the Sabbath is here as plainly expressed, as in the fourth commandment. The words are the continuation of a plain historical narration : for having finished the account of the creation of the world in the first chapter, and given a Recapitulation of it in the first verse of this, Moses declares what immediately ensued thereon ; namely, the rest of God on the seventh day, and his blessing and sanctifying that day whereon he so rested ; — even that individual day in the first place, and a day in the revolution of the same space of time for succeeding generations. This is plain in the words, or nothing can be plainly expressed. And if there be any appearance of difficulty in those words, ‘he blessed and sanctified it,’ it is wholly taken away in the explication given of them by himself afterwards in the fourth commandment, where they are plainly declared to intend its being set apart and consecrated to be a day of sacred rest.[51]

Owen ties what is written in Genesis 2:1-3 with the Fourth Commandment to which we turn our attention now.

Exodus 20:8-11

Ex. 20:8-11 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Now we move on to the Fourth Commandment to ground the Sabbath in Creation. I believe what has said above on Genesis 2 is vindicated here by Holy Scripture itself. When God gives the command, the simple form is: Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Furthermore, the grounding of the Sabbath is placed in the example of God Himself. John Murray rightly observed that the “Sabbath rest upon the divine example (Gen. 2:2)…is expressly stated in the fourth commandment.”[52] Verse 11 begins with the word “for”, which gives a reason for something. The reason and the basis is found in the fact that the LORD Himself worked six days and then rested on the seventh, therefore, His people are to follow His pattern. He created in six days so that He would provide a pattern for man to follow. The words of v. 11b are borrowed from Genesis 2:3. Dr. Robert Martin observes that

the causal conjunction “for” (כִּ֣י, because) and the inferential expression “therefore” (עַל־כֵּ֗ן) connect the commandment of vv. 8-10 to its rationale and justification in vs. 11. The pattern of six days labor followed by one day of rest is “because” of the pattern of God’s own behavior in creating the heavens and the earth. For this reason (“therefore,” i.e., by virtue of his example, as a logical consequence), Jehovah blessed and sanctified the day…[53]

It is to be observed that He tells them to “remember” the Sabbath which the Creator observed. B.B. Warfield notes that “We may learn from it also that Israel was a people to...