Thursday, July 13, 2017

Amillennialism and the Age to Come—A Critical Review # 14

Waymeyer’s Treatment of 1 Corinthians 15

The pinnacle of the systemic confusion introduced into plain and literal New Testament passages by Waymeyer is found in his lengthy treatment of 1 Corinthians 15 on pages 147 to 171 of his book. Waymeyer’s argument consists in a number of assertions.  First, there is a sequence of events at the end of Christ’s reign allowed by the use of epeita in verse 23 and eita in verse 24; and this allows for a temporal gap into which a future millennium may be inserted.  Second, the reign of Christ in view in the passage is a future reign which requires a future millennial reign for its complete fulfillment.  Third, “the end” in verses 24-26 includes the resurrection of unbelievers at the end of the millennium.  Fourth, the assertion that death is defeated by the resurrection of believers at Christ’s Second Coming does not refer to a once-for-all defeat of death the last enemy.  There are plain and, in my view, unanswerable responses to each of these assertions.  I will respond to the first two of these assertions in the remainder of this post.  Then the last two will be answered in the next post.

‘First, there is a sequence of events at the end of Christ’s reign allowed by the use of epeita in verse 23 and eita in verse 24; and this allows for a temporal gap into which a future millennium may be inserted.’  This is the gist of Waymeyer’s argument on pages 151-155.  What is the proper response?

I see no reason to deny that epeita and eita—here and in other places—speak of a sequence of events.  Thus, it is possible in the abstract that a period of time may lie between the periods designated by these words.  At the same time, I agree with my fellow Amillennialists that inserting both the 7-year tribulation and the millennium and thus a period of over a thousand years between verse 23 and verse 24 seems in itself far-fetched.  I cannot quite say that it is impossible.

What does make it impossible is the way in which the passage itself identifies the period specified by Paul in the words of verse 24, “then comes the end.”  This “end” comes “when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power.”  In the context this abolition of all rule and authority and power occurs and must have occurred when “the last enemy … death is abolished.”  This happens—everything about the passage conspires to teach this—at the resurrection of Christ’s people at His coming.  This is what the contextual emphasis on the resurrection of Christ’s people requires.  It is also what the specific statement of Paul requires later in the passage when he says in 1 Corinthians 15:54-55: “But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. 55 “O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?””  Death, the last enemy, is destroyed and abolished by the resurrection of Christ’s people at His coming.  Not all the attempts of Waymeyer to distract our attention from this simple and decisive affirmation of Paul in this passage should move us from his straightforward assertion.

‘Second, the reign of Christ in view in the passage is a future reign which requires a future millennial reign for its complete fulfillment.’  Waymeyer asserts: “A closer look at this passage indicates that the reign of Christ in 1 Corinthians 15:25 cannot be a present reality and therefore must refer to a future kingdom.”  (1550). Waymeyer’s assertion seems to be grounded on several false premises.

In the first place, he thinks that “the present age is the only age in which Jesus will reign over the messianic kingdom.” (155).  This is wrong.  Though a certain phase of the messianic kingdom comes to an end with His return (the reign of conquest), the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is eternal.  Several passages say plainly that His reign once commenced is without end (Isa. 9:7; Eph. 5:5; 2 Peter 1:11; Rev. 22:3-5).  Jesus reigns as king not only in this age but in the age to come (Eph. 1:21).

In the second place, he assumes that, if the present age is the age of Christ’s reign, then the saints do not and cannot co-reign with Christ (155-156). This also is mistaken for several reasons.  (1)  The saints reign with Christ in heaven now after their deaths.  This is, in fact, the actual meaning of Revelation 20:4-6 according to Amillennialists.  Revelation 3:21’s promise that the overcomers will sit down on Christ’s throne after they overcome has a preliminary fulfillment like the other promises to the overcomers in the intermediate state—as I prove in End Times Made Simple.  (2)  It is also true that by faith they are seated with Christ on His throne in heaven even in the present life (Eph. 2:6; Col. 3:1).  Thus, they are reigning with him even now in heaven.  (3)  Further, it is also true that when Christ returns to destroy His enemies His people will share with Him in their destruction and in His final war of destruction.  (4)  Finally, since Christ’s reign does not cease with His Second Coming, the saints share for all eternity in His reign in the age to come and, thus, co-reign with Him (Rev. 5:10; 22:5).

In the third place, Waymeyer adopts Saucy’s distinction between Christ being exalted to the messianic kingship and his actual reigning (157).  Here is what Saucy and Waymeyer following him actually say: “Although Christ has been exalted too the messianic kingship, nowhere else in the New Testament is he said to be presently exercising that kingship in an actual ‘reigning’ over his enemies.”  This assumption and idea is also completely mistaken.  Here is why.  (1)  The notion of Christ’s sitting on the throne, but not actually reigning is so distant from the biblical conception of kingdom as to be almost entirely foreign to its way of thought.  To sit on the throne is to reign.  To distinguish the two things is a notion completely without support in the Scriptures.  (2)  As a matter of fact, the New Testament presents Christ as exercising this reign over all things including His enemies in a number of key passages.  In Acts 2 He pours out His Spirit and converts His enemies because of His reign.  Cf. especially Acts 2:33-36.  In Revelation 5 and 6 He takes His place on the throne of God at His ascension and opens the seals of the book of God’s redemptive purposes during the present age.  As the actual opening of the seals discloses, their opening involves reigning over His enemies in different ways.  (3)  The quotation of Psalm 8 confirms all of this.  Waymeyer and Saucy are completely mistaken in their view that Hebrews 2 supports their contention that Jesus has not yet begun to reign.  When Hebrews says that we do not yet see all things subjected to Him (Heb. 2:8), it is talking not about Christ but man or, in other words, the human race.  As a matter of fact, the writer immediately proceeds to say that Jesus has been crowned with glory and honor—and the implication is that all things are under His feet, even if they are not yet under the feet of His redeemed race.  Ephesians 1:22 actually asserts that all things are already put under Jesus’ feet.  Not only so, but that verse asserts that He is made head over all things for the sake of His church.  How is this purpose of His being seated on His throne consistent with the notion that He is not exercising a reign over His enemies?  Thus, Hebrews 2:8 cannot mean what Waymeyer and Saucy think and does not refer to Christ.  Of course, the complete outworking of this past subjection of all things to Christ awaits the future consummation when at His Second Coming the last enemy is destroyed (1 Corinthians 15:27), but the notion that Jesus is not yet actually reigning over all things and His enemies is wholly without New Testament support.



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