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

...oples, Israel and the Church, but only one people made up of both believing Jews and believing Gentiles, who are known as the Israel of God and the Church (in contrast to Dispensationalism). They believe that there will be a restoration of the Jews prior to the Millennium and Coming of the Lord Christ.

They believe that the believers, the Church, will go through the Great Tribulation which an indefinite time of persecution prior to the Rapture and Coming of the Lord. At the Rapture, Christ will come with all saints from heaven with resurrection and glorified bodies, and He will transform all living believers on earth so that they would have glorified and resurrection bodies. This is The First Resurrection of Revelation 20:4-6. After this, Antichrist will be destroyed by the true Christ and Satan will be bound for a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-2). Then Christ will usher His reign upon the earth for a thousand years of peace and prosperity. But remember, sin and death are not eliminated, but significantly reduced in effect and power.

The Millennium will be populated by saints who came with Christ from heaven (both from the Old Testament and up to the coming of Christ), the saints who were transformed at the coming of Christ, unbelievers and those who have turned to Christ after His coming. There is a discussion among Premillenniarians as to the time of resurrection for those who came to faith after The First Resurrection, I have heard that some say that they are directly raised after their death, or that they will be raised prior to the Final Judgment.

After the Millennium, Satan will be let loose and will try to destroy the Church, but God will intervene and send him to Hell and thus save His people. Then the wicked will be raised, and then all will stand before God in the Final Judgment after which comes the New Heavens and New Earth, although some believe that the New Heavens and New Earth start with the Millennium. According to Premillennial eschatology, the following things are to be expected:

  1. The Evangelization of All Nations.
  2. The Great Tribulation and Antichrist (Man of Sin).
  3. The Conversion and Restoration of Israel.
  4. The Second Coming:
    1. The Rapture
      1. The resurrection of all dead saints.
      2. Transformation of living believers.
    2. Destruction of Antichrist.
    3. The binding of Satan.
    4. The inauguration of the thousand year reign of Christ.
  5. The Millennium.
  6. Apostasy at the end of the Millennium.
    1. Satan being loosed and leading rebellion against Christ.
    2. Satan and the wicked being destroyed.
  7. The Resurrection of the wicked.
  8. The Final Judgment.
  9. The New Heavens and New Earth.

The following is a diagram of Premillennialism:

Premillennial Problems

I believe that Premillennialism is not supported by the statement of the Confession here and in the following paragraph. Moreover, there is no Confessional support for Premillennialism in any of the major Creeds and Confessions of Christianity. Paragraph 2 (the current) speaks of the Rapture, i.e., the resurrection of dead saints and the transformation of living believers as happening “at the last day”. But clearly, in Premillennialism, the last day is separated from the Rapture by at least a thousand ­­years! Actually, the Confession in this paragraph does not speak of the resurrection of the saints, rather, “all the dead shall be raised up”, this is the General Resurrection. But Premillennialism knows of two resurrections: (1) the resurrection of all saints at the ...

Review of Dean Davis' The High King of Heaven on Amillennialism

...5 years is also how long the Woman is to be nourished, time reminds us of Elisha when he in the wilderness in utter dependence on God (James 5:17; 1Kings 18). It also reminds us of the Jewish persecution in the time of the Maccabees and Antiochus Epiphanes IV.

Both 3,5 and 1000 years represent the Church Era, but it depends from which angle we look at it. If we look at it from the angle of persecution, it seems of imperfect and incomplete. But if we look at the 1000 years in the context of Satan’s binding it seems so huge and assures us of Gospel success. Let us not forget that many, if not all the disciples expected our Lord to return soon. 1000 is a huge number.

The First Resurrection

There are two possible explanations for this. It is either regeneration or the entrance of the saints to heaven (Dean’s view). I favor the regeneration view because it has direct statements from Scripture and especially from John to confirm this, but I still have some questions which the “entrance to heaven” view answers. I’m challenged by Dean’s view, it seems indeed to fit. [Edit: as of 25-04-2015 I have changed my view of The First Resurrection to Dean’s. I believe The First Resurrection refers to the believers’ entrance into the Intermediate State.]

Dean’s view say that The First Resurrection is not a physical resurrection, indeed the consistent teaching of the NT is that of one general resurrection at the Parousia. The First Resurrection refers to the believers’ entrance to heaven and reigning there with Christ.

There are two groups who are reigning with Christ:

  1. The martyrs
    1. the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God
  2. Born again believers
    1. those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands

The regeneration view sees support in John 5.

John 5:25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.

Here regeneration is seen as a resurrection from the dead. Resurrection from deadness in sin.

This is further confirmed in the many ways that Paul refers to our old self and regeneration:

Eph 2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, Eph 2:5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— Eph 2:6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, Eph 2:7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Here is it of special importance because in a certain and real (because the Bible affirms it) sense we are already seated in heaven (on thrones?) and are reining. In what way? Reining in life (Rom 5:17) and against sin.

The new life is connected with resurrection in Ephesians 5 also:

Eph 5:13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, Eph 5:14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

I think both views have good support and there remains questions to be asked about each (and more research and re-checking for me).

This is indeed not meant to be an exhaustive exposition of Revelation 20 and answering objection, but that’s exactly the reason why y...

Extensive review of Jonathan Menn's Biblical Eschatology

.../a>; Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, pp. 715-716, 726-727; Saekle Greijdanus, 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 &l