Simmons-Frost Debate

Does King's Corporate Body View Lead to Universalism?

Part 1

Written by Sam Frost   



When I initially finished this piece, the debate with Kurt Simmons was not in the forefront. Recently, however, it has come to the forefront. The basic charge is laid out that the "corporate view" necessarily leads to Universalism. Now, I am a student of Logic proper, and I use the term "necessarily" in the logical sense. That is, like math, 4 necessarily follows 2+2. What Simmons alleges is that Max King's view as outlined in The Cross and the Parousia necessarily leads to Universalism, even though Universalism is explicitly denied in that book.

Now, it is true that King may have changed his views. I believe that he has changed his understanding of "all" in passages like Rom 5.18; I Co 15.22 and "all Israel shall be saved." I believe, also, that passages like "every knee shall bow to the glory of the Father" are taken quite literally. However, on pages 485-486 in King's book, he decidedly rejects Universalism and shows convincingly that it is the biological definition of death that leads to Universalism.

Now, King may have changed his views on such passages, but the point to notice is that his view of covenant eschatology and corporate identity between Adam and Christ is not affected in the least. It is not the point of contention that Simmons is making it out to be. In other words, Beck, King and Tim King may in fact be Universalists, but they did not get there because of the corporate view. They allegedly got there through another route, most notably upon a reflection of the grace of God, who God casts out and who he keeps in, and upon what basis does he do so. This hardly has anything to do with the corporate view and it is Simmons' full responsibility to show that the corporate view necessarily leads to Universalism. If he merely argues that some who have come to accept the universalist concept also accept the corporate view, then he has merely argued ad hominem. Or, more logically, propter hoc. That is "after this, therefore because of this", which every logician will tell you is a fallacy. No, what Simmons must prove is that it is no mere coincidence that some who hold to the corporate view have also come to accept the universalistic view because it is the necessary, logical step. That it is, in fact, the corporate view itself that leads to universalism. Finally, he must also show not from his own exegesis, but from the exegesis of King and myself (who he has consistently lumped together) that we lead to Universalism.

Now, with the above being said, this first part will deal with the framework of Full Preterism. My second part will then deal with the corporate view which I fit into this framework. It is the framework, however, that dictates to me that the swallowing up of "the Death" for "all peoples" does not, and cannot, lead to Universalism.

Opening Remarks

It's been a long time coming, but finally a debate is breaking out within the Preterist camps concerning soteriology. The usual suspects, Calvin and Arminius are involved, of course. Phrases like "age of accountability" and "free will" are popping up on one hand, and "predestination" and "sovereignty of God" on the other. Another person comes into play as well, Max King. It's a funny world when a staunch Calvinist like me defends a card carrying freewiller like Max King. But, hey, that's God.

Now, whenever I have discussions about Max King it is usually with two types of people: those who understand King's exegesis in I Co 15 in his book The Cross and the Parousia of Christ, and those who think they understand his view and then proceed to dissect it based on their faulty misunderstanding. The problem is that King's book is so systematic in terms of a total approach that one quote or a few quotes do not do him justice. I can take quotes from his book and string them together to make the man sound like a monster. It's like taking a few quotes from Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion. Notice the title of the book, Institutes! It's a whole system. Each quote fits into a larger whole, and if the whole is not grasped, then the parts will not make much sense.

Now, I make no bones about the approach I will take in dismantling what has been called "Preterist-Idealism" (PI). I am an inerrantist in my doctrine of the Bible. I also believe in Logic proper. Exegesis should be free from contradiction, false inferences, and informal fallacies. The Westminster Confession of Faith, in its brilliant opening chapter, states, "The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture." I do not believe that Scriptures gives us comprehensive answers to every question we may ask, or that may be inferred from its pages. However, I do believe that the answers it does give, and the true logical deductions that can be made from them, is the Truth and is not contained in paradoxes, antinomies and some ethereal "experience" that "transcends" language. Such a theology cannot be defended, much less explained so as to understand it, and, therefore, it is useless to me.

I.  Dubois' Opening Move: Accept the Bluff

In the article entitled "Full Preterism vs. Idealism Part 3: Full Preterisms", Dubois shows that he has accepted, without challenge, the universalist claim. That is, if "the Death" (which is not defined by Dubois) is destroyed in 70 C.E., then all men are no longer in Adam and therefore cannot be condemned in Adam. Brian Simmons has erroneously accepted this as well, and Kurt Simmons has rightly pointed this out. Dubois writes, "In that AD 70 has occurred, all men are no longer in Adam. That condemnation has been put away." He does not seek to prove this. This is just supposed to be the case and it is repeated by B. Simmons and Todd Dennis. This is the entire reason for the recent fluff.

Because this paper will be posted at several sites, my intent is to be as definitive as possible. In another article, "Full Preterism vs. Idealism Part 1 & 2" Dubois wrote, "...Universalism is clearly against scripture..." Therefore, PI is a reactionary movement. The logic is this: Universalism is erroneous. Full Preterism leads to Universalism. Therefore, Full Preterism is erroneous. Perfect logic, but is the second premise true? That's the case, and Dubois, Dennis and B. Simmons have set out to halt Full Preterism and replace it with PI. As for Kurt Simmons, his beef is the same logic: Universalism is erroneous; Corporate Body view (Max King) leads to Universalism; therefore Corporate Body is erroneous. Simmons, unlike Dennis and Dubois, wants to keep Full Preterism, but his version is nothing more than a strange amalgamation of futurist soteriology with preterist eschatology, much like PI.

Now, we should not have to wade through every page (only 12) of Dubois' argument since the entire case rests on the premise that the destruction of "the Death" means universal salvation for all. If it can be shown that this premise is false, the rest of Dubois' and Simmons' argument fails or is irrelevant since it is built off of this. It will be my approach to dismantle the bluff he accepts from the universalist. The universalist appears to have a royal flush over and against Dubois full house. Dubois folds to the universalist. It is my conclusion that when the hands are seen, the universalist actually only had a pair of deuces. A full house beats a pair every time.

II. The Death

What are often sorely lacking in these exchanges are definitions. I could not find a definition of "the Sin" or "the Death" in these articles. Sometimes "the law" was defined as the "the law of Moses." That's pretty definite. There are 622 of those recorded in Exodus through Deuteronomy. K. Simmons refers to the "law of sin and death" (Rom 7.23; 8.2). He states that "this law existed in the garden" (from his article, "Is Universalism a Logical Corollary of Full Preterism?"). Dubois says the "eternal law" existed in the garden and that it was this law that Adam broke. None of them define this ethereal law. Both of these views fail to understand Paul.

When Paul took up the argument of the "one man" Adam in Rom 5.12, he does not end until 8.39. In 5.12-8.39 Paul deals with three reoccurring terms, "the law," "the sin," and "the death." So as to be definitive, let me quote from the great Robinson, respected by all Greek scholars, about the use of the definite article, "the." He wrote, "It defines, limits, points out from...The Greek article is a pointer" (A New Short Grammar of the Greek New Testament, 10th Edition, 275). Paul used it throughout 5-8 and those wishing to ignore this are doing so to their own theological peril. It's not just "any" law, or "any" sin, or just "any" death. It is the death, the law and the sin. Very specific, very limited in meaning.

Since this is the case, the meaning of "the sin" in 5.12 is the same meaning in 6.1 or 7.23. If I am making an argument for "the cat", and my argument is a few pages long, and on the last page I am still talking about "the cat", would you infer that each time I mention "the cat" I have a different cat in mind? No, you would not. But, that is exactly the problem. Every commentary that mentions "the sin" in 5.12 completely changes the definition by the time they get to 6.1. Even the translations change. Now, if K. Simmons has "the law of the sin and the death" in 7.23 as being the "law that existed in the garden", then clearly 5.12 and the entrance of "the sin" and through the sin, "the death" through Adam are speaking of the same thing. In other words, Genesis 3 is to be carried all the way through Romans 5-8. If "the sin" is defined as x in 5.12, then it must be defined as x in 7.23, etc. What happens is that it becomes y or p, i.e., some other definition.

Imagine Paul with a Genesis scroll unrolled before him. Of course, he probably knew it from memory as many 9 year old Hebrew children do. Nonetheless, he is commenting on the story of Adam. He says, and I translate, "Therefore, as through one man the Sin came into the world and through the Sin, the Death." In staying consistent with our method given above, Paul wrote, "What, therefore, will we say? Is the Law the Sin? No way! However, I know not the Sin except through the Law" (7.7). This is the same where he says, "sin is not recognized when there is no law" (5.13). [What is “the sin” – please tell us! – Adam’s transgression?]

Rather than make Paul mean some complicated, theological thought here, I take a simpler approach. What Paul cites is the basis for every law that has ever been made. It is the law that makes an act criminal. If there is no law against it, then it is perfectly legal. Now, does this make the law itself sin? No. But, the law defines sin. That's all Paul is saying here. Without law, there can be no definition of sin. The law itself defines what is good and what is evil. The more it defines good and evil actions, the more knowledge of good and evil is increased. The more the law is increased, the more opportunities to transgress abounds. With these simple principles, let's turn back to Adam.

Adam is given what Paul calls "the commandment". Let's look at that commandment: "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die" (Gn 2.17). This is known as a prohibitive imperative in law. The Law of Moses has a bunch of them. They are all the "thou shalt nots". They are commandments.

Paul's context in 5.12, we would all agree, is Gn 3. The "one man" is Adam and he is talking about the "entrance" of "the sin" and "the death." If a law is needed to define specifically a sin, then what sin is defined in the law given to Adam? Clearly: eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It's not "the knowledge" that is "the sin", but the act of eating. This is what Paul called, "the Transgression" (5.14) and "the Offence" (5.15). He has only one specific act or transgression in mind: Adam's. This, then, is "the Sin." The sin of eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil brought forth in "all men" the knowledge of good and evil. We see this acted out in Genesis 5 with Cain and "sin crouching at the door" of his heart. Murder is an evil thought "from the heart" according to Jesus. Murder is evil knowledge. We see in Noah's story that the basis for the flood is the fact that all men everywhere "thought evil thoughts". Where did "all men" get this "knowledge" of "evil" from? They didn't get it from the Devil. They got it from the Tree, from where Adam got it and "passed it on all men" born from him and his wife, Eve, the "mother of all the living."

Now, we have the "commandment" that Adam broke defined, and we have the specific sin made known by the commandment defined. Does the law set forth the penalty? Of course. It is known in the Septuagint version as thanatos. Paul uses the same Greek word with the article, "the death." It is "the death" that Adam would receive when he ate (transgressed) the commandment.

What was "the death"? Clearly, Adam was exiled on the "day" he ate. He received what Paul called, "the Condemnation" (5.16). The Greek word here, katakrima, is used in only one other place in Romans, 8.1! The condemnation removed "for those in Christ Jesus" is none other than the condemnation given to "all men" (5.18). But notice even here that Paul's "in Christ" (as opposed to those "in Adam") is where the condemnation is removed. We shall see that what this means is that though the cause of the condemnation is removed for "all peoples", the effects of the condemnation still remains for every man, woman and child that is born into "the world", for it is the fact that "the sin entered the world" (Rom 5.12), and its effects, apart from its now ended reign, are still very much present.

Here is where a problem enters. How can "all men" be condemned for the act of "one man"? K. Simmons believes that God would be unjust to punish "all" for the sin of "one." However, the corporate theology in the Hebrew Scriptures is rampant. One story in particular well illustrates the point. Under Joshua, Israel goes out to fight the nations in the land of Canaan. They are told not to take any plunder. When they go to fight Ai, they are defeated. When Joshua seeks to find out why, God repeats several times that Israel has sinned against him and Israel has taken plunder. In the story we find out that it is only one man, Achan. The actions of one man was transferred to the actions of all Israel. One member in the body of Israel stole, the whole body stole. [1]

We, again, see this illustrated in Hebrews where Levi is said to have given a tithe to Melchizedek since Levi was "in the loins of Abraham". The logic follows with Adam and Eve, "the mother of all the living." Every genealogy in the Bible can be followed to Eve. There is not one human being alive today that cannot follow their lineage back to Eve and Adam. Not one. This is Paul's point.

Paul's reasoning is causal, and this is often missed. In 5.12 he used the phrase "so also" which is causal. The effect was that "the death passed to all" of whom Eve is the mother. Stick with Genesis 3 when reading Romans 5.

Adam was condemned to exile from the Garden. But, not just the Garden. We often forget what was in the Garden, and why God exiled him. He was exiled from, "the Tree of the Life." More explicitly, "eternal life" (Gn 3.22). Lo! And behold! Paul wrote, "for as through the one man (Adam) came to all men to condemnation, so also through the righteous act of the one man (Jesus) to all men to justification of life." Then, this righteousness will reign in "eternal life" (5.21). So, there we have it. "Life", "death", "the sin," "the commandment," "eternal life", "all men", and "Adam." All of it is Genesis 3 material and, therefore, all of it is to be defined "according to the Scriptures" of Genesis.

Adam's condemnation was separation from "the life." This meant that he was cut off from "eternal life." God adds an extra touch: he made it impossible for any man to have access to the Eternal Life. From the bench of God's court, God decreed that the Death penalty of the Sin of Adam would rule or stand over all that would be born to him. The Law gives the death and the sin its power because the Law is God's Law. It is "holy, righteous, and good." From the picture of Genesis 3, then, we see that the reign of the Death is man's inability to receive eternal life. This passed to every man in that, as can obviously be seen, no man was born to Adam and Eve with access to "the Life." Man has become like God in that he has "the knowledge of good and evil." That is, he can make his own laws without any reference to God, and can impose them on other men just like God can. God imposed on Adam a law. God has no laws imposed on him. God decides what laws to impose for he knows "good and evil" truly. Man, however, only has himself as a reference to good and evil. God's knowledge of good and evil is known only by reference to Himself. So, Adam, like God, begins to create and build and make laws with reference to himself, and impose them on society. Truly, Man is like God. Well, not entirely. He lacks one thing: immortality.

It should be plain at this point that all men born to Adam and Eve, all the genealogies that we see in the Bible, are born outside, in exile and under the penalty of Adam. They are all born with the ability to think in terms of right and wrong, good and evil, bad and good, black and white. They are born with an ability to create an entire world without any reference to God. They can come up with religions, worldviews, government theories and laws. They do not need God to do this, they can do it on their own. They are also all born without eternal life, or "the Life." And this means that they are born under the ruling of the law that Adam broke. The Death ("in the day you eat, you shall surely die") rules over them, and the Sin (Adam's sin of eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, causing man to think outside of God's revealed word) ruled in the Death. It is proven that in the Bible, every man born since Adam and Eve were born to these sets of circumstances.

Show me one religion, one philosophy that has no reference to what is good and what is wrong. It cannot be done. We have, for thousands of years, been operating in what Isaiah called "the darkness", blindly stumbling in the world, creating religions, gods, ideas and cultures. All of them are cut off from the Light. All of them are without eternal life. They are what Paul calls, "vain philosophies." However, man is made in God's image. That is, he thinks and creates. But he does so apart from God's revelation. However, man's knowledge of the world is based in terms of "good" and "evil." Without God revealing to him what is good, and what is evil, man will call that which is good, "evil", and that which is evil, "good." It is his nature to do so, being that he has "knowledge" in terms of "good and evil" but does not have "eternal life": "And this is eternal life: that they may know You." Without the knowledge of God in the heart, one has only knowledge of good and evil, cut off from eternal life and made a slave of the rule of God over Adam when Adam sinned: "you are cut off from eternal life". That was the "reign of the Death."

That Paul is thinking along these lines is made plain by the contrasted parallel found in Rom 5.21:

"For just as the Sin reigned in the Death, so also Grace might reign through the Righteousness to bring Eternal Life." The parallels are "the Sin" with "Grace". Grace covers "the sin" and bring forgiveness. "The Death" is parallel with the phrase, "The righteousness to Eternal Life". It was "unrighteousness" or "condemnation" brought through the one act of Adam (5.16). This condemnation for all men was being in exile from the Life eternal with no possibility of receiving it. Having righteousness means having eternal life (resurrection life "through the body of the Son", 7.4) Eternal life is now possible. Get this: the reign of the Death meant all men being cut off from Eternal Life with God, having no possibility or any means whatsoever of attaining to it. Likewise, and in contrast, the reign of Grace in Righteousness in the Age to Come for Paul meant, the possibility and means for attaining Eternal Life with the Father is now available to all men. This will become crystal clear when we read the Prophets.

III.  The Promise

Very early on in Genesis God ordains a promise: the "seed" of the woman will "crush the head" of the serpent (3.15). Paul envisioned the fulfillment of this promise as arriving "very soon" (Rom 16.20). As stated before, Gn 3 looms large in the mind of Paul. The promise is the crushing of the head of Satan. This would mean the reversal of God's judgment. After all, it was God that wrote the law given to Adam, and wrote its penal code as well. The reign of the Death was God's kingdom in action since it was a God imposed penalty. Since it was God's decision, it would also follow that God, the Divine Judge, can annul his decision. It was God who made "the serpent" (3.1), and it would be God that would crush the head of this serpent through the Seed of the woman. Everything that follows this story is to be seen in light of this story. From Noah to Abraham to Moses to Christ, all of these stories illustrate these opening scenes of Genesis. They are all patterned after the Exile and Promised Restoration motifs. Abraham "goes down" to Egypt, and so does Jacob. Moses leads them "out of" Egypt and "into" a land much like the description of Eden. They break God's laws and are "exiled". Jesus goes "down to" Egypt and crosses the Jordan. David did, too. David "ascends" a "second time" to the throne of Jerusalem and as a result, "unites Judah and Israel", and then comes the glory of Solomon. All of these stories have the same patterns to them. They each illustrate the Story to Come, the one Story that will end all stories and wrap them up into one. It is within this framework that we must read Paul.

The prophets predict the coming fall of Jerusalem. They also predict an "age to come" in which God will set all things aright. It is this latter consideration that I want to press, for it enters into the controversy today that faces Full Preterism. This controversy centers around the promise to "swallow up the Death" (Is 25.8). We will return to this passage shortly. First, I want to make some connections with Paul and his Greek vocabulary.

·                                 Point # 1: In I Co 15.54 Paul quotes Is 25.8. In the Hebrew it is "ha muth" or "the death." The Septuagint also reflects this, and so does Paul. Paul mentions "the death" in I Co 15.26. There, the "last enemy that is being destroyed" in Paul's day was "the death." No doubt that "the death" he has in mind here is the same "the death" he has in mind in 15.54-56.

·                                 Point # 2: Paul also quoted from Hosea 13.14 where "death" is addressed in the vocative. Paul links these two contexts together, meaning that "the death" in Is 25.8 is the same "O' Death" that is being addressed in Hos 13.14. Both of these contexts are Restoration of Israel contexts, with which no one would disagree.

·                                 Point # 3: In I Co 15.56 Paul links "the death" with "the sin" and "the law." Very recently, many scholars, none of which are Full Preterists, have noted the clear connection between 15.56 and Rom 5. In other words, 15.56 is a condensed argument of Rom 5, which the Corinthians would have been familiar with since Paul stayed so long with them. In the letter to the Romans, however, Paul has to expound upon this doctrine since he has never visited Rome. The same can be said for the language of II Co 3.5, which appeals and quotes Gen 1.3 and clearly connects "the death" with the "law written in Stone." The Law of Moses was "the administration of the Death" (3.7). Unless Paul has more than one definition of "the death" that consistently occurs in contexts talking about Israel and the Law of Moses, then we are perfectly logical in insisting that all of these usages of "the death" means one thing: the death that passed on to all men as the result of the one man.

·                                 Point # 4: John's vision of "the death and the hades" (which, in the Hebrew Scriptures, these words are often coupled together) ends with the destruction of "the Death." That John has Isaiah in mind (or, rather, that the Spirit inspiring John is alluding to His past revelations given to Isaiah) is plain. The Death is destroyed and John writes, "He will wipe away the tears from their eyes. There will be no more the Death" (Rev 21.4). Now, let's read Is 25.8: "He will swallow up the Death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces." That there is a connection here is plain for all to see.

·                                 Point # 5: Conclusion, John and Paul did not make up a new doctrine concerning "the death." They explicitly got it from Isaiah. John pictures the fulfillment, therefore, of Is 25.8 in Rev 21. Paul is looking forward to the same fulfillment in I Co 15, using the same language. It is quite clear and plain that Paul has connected "the death" with "the law of Moses" and more explicitly with the law given to Adam, which he transgressed. It is quite plain for anyone to see that with the "dissolution of the law" of Moses, the "administration of the Death" would be equally swallowed up. The Law of Moses was "added to" the Law that Adam broke, and thus became the main "administer" of the Death which came because of Adam. The fulfillment and subsequent dissolution of the "written code on stones" would mean that "the Death" would cease to "reign" over "all peoples." The Death does not reign in the New Heavens and New Earth. Problem: If "the death" is swallowed up for all men, then would that not mean that all men are now inside the Restored Kingdom? Answer: Not according to Scriptures. 


Since we have proven that the promise involves the restoration of the kingdom, and that the restoration of the kingdom is tied to the dissolution of the law of Moses, and, further, that the law of Moses was merely "added" to show forth the death and the sin of Adam which exiled all men from "the life eternal," then we must now show that the Prophets never, ever pictured a time, ever, of universal salvation after the fact of swallowing up the death.

Since we have shown that Paul and John were drawing from the Prophets, then we must also see if they have anything to say concerning the Age to Come. It will become crystal clear that John, in Rev 21,22, is merely receiving a vision from the Spirit who already gave these same visions to the Prophets as recorded in the Bible.

In the Isaian passage, the death is swallowed up and Mount Zion is restored. This passage is, in agreement with a multitude of commentators, in parallel with other like Restoration passages. For example, Paul saw Hos 13 and Is 25 as addressing the same time of Restoration. John, in Rev 21,22, who, as we saw, clearly had Is 25 in mind, also refers to many other Prophets. We will consider Zechariah in a moment.

First, in Isaiah 25 "the death" is swallowed up. Let us quote the passage in full:

And in this mountain will the LORD of hosts make unto all peoples a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined. 7 And He will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering that is cast over all peoples, and the veil that is spread over all nations. 8 He will swallow up death for ever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the reproach of His people will He take away from off all the earth; for the LORD hath spoken it (JPS).

Notice that "all peoples" are in mind here as well as "all nations." The death will be swallowed up for "all peoples", the "veil" that is spread over "all the nations" will be taken away. If we have Edenic restoration in mind, this would mean that the Cherubim that stands guard to eternal life would be removed. God's verdict would be annulled. Eternal life would now be available as opposed to not available. The reign of the death meant that eternal life is available for no one. [Sentence of death was opposed, not eternal life unavailable] The swallowing up of the death means that is now available for all nations. However, this does not mean that it is guaranteed for every single individual.

The reason I say that is because I read the rest of the passage:

And it shall be said in that day: 'Lo, this is our God, for whom we waited, that He might save us; this is the LORD, for whom we waited, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.' 10 For in this mountain will the hand of the LORD rest, and Moab shall be trodden down in his place, even as straw is trodden down in the dunghill (JPS).

Who are the "we" here? It is this "salvation" that Paul wrote about and was "nearer now" to his generation. It is on "this mountain", mount Zion, that John saw in Rev 21,22. But, things don't look good for Moab, which commentators recognize as a metonymy for "nations" or "enemies of Israel" in general. If everyone gets salvation as a result of the swallowing up of the Death, then, clearly, the destruction of Moabites is a lie! Too bad for the Moabites!

You have to see this picture. If the sheet of the Death that covers "all peoples" includes Moab, then it follows that the sheet of the Death is removed for Moab. Moab is no longer under the sheet, for the sheet has been removed. However, Moab is destroyed, not saved! Isaiah 26 continues to remark that "in that day" (26.1) "grace will be shown to the wicked, though they learn not righteousness." What is interesting here is that Paul speaks of "grace reigning in the righteousness to eternal life"! As we have shown, "eternal life" is the result of the swallowing of the Death. However, just because the Death is swallowed up for all, does not mean that all enter into the Kingdom of God wherein is Eternal Life.

The old Age of the Reign of the Death and the Sin in the Death (of Adam) did not mean that everyone would perish. The elect had faith in an "eternal country." They hoped for eternal life while under the reign of the Death of Adam. So, likewise, the Age of the Reign of Grace in Righteousness does mean everyone gets eternal life, just as not everyone under the Reign of the Death meant everyone perished. It is the Reign of the Grace in the Righteousness unto Eternal Life that has replaced the Reign of the Sin in the Death, but this does not guarantee that everyone gets eternal life, anymore than the previous reign guaranteed that all would perish.

Is 26.2 speaks of the "gates" that are now "open" in order for the "righteous nation" to "enter." There are several passages in Isaiah like this. This is exactly what Jesus meant to Nicodemus in that we must be "born again" to "enter the kingdom of God." The "righteous nation" that enters into the Mount of Zion are those who were under the effects of Adam's rebellion, the reign of the Death. The reign of the Death has been removed, the cause has been dealt with. The effects, clearly, remain. If they did not remain, the language of "entering in" and the mention of the "wicked" who do not learn righteousness is meaningless.

There are many passages I could go to, but one more from Isaiah will work, then we will consider Zechariah. In chapter 60 we have Rev 21,22. The "gates" are "never shut" (60.11). This is the same in Is 25,26 where as a result of the death being swallowed up, that gates are now opened. Eternal life resides inside. Listen to the Prophet:

Thy gates also shall be open continually, day and night, they shall not be shut; that men may bring unto thee the wealth of the nations, and their kings in procession. 12 For that nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted (JPS, 60.10-11).

That this same imagery is in John's vision is plain (Rev 21.25). The point of this is plainly taught in the Prophet: after the removal of the death for all peoples, all peoples must enter into the City to gain Eternal Life. It does not automatically mean that they get Eternal Life. Therefore, the Bible plainly teaches that in the Age to Come, after the Death has been swallowed up and its reign has ceased, nations can and will still rebel against God's People, and they shall face "utter waste" and "perish" as a result.

In my more exhaustive studies on Isaiah, located on our website, I show that "sheol" is never the place of "fire." The "fiery judgment" or "burning sulfur" mentioned in Isaiah is what was to come after sheol. John called it the "second death", and he got it from Isaiah. No one perished in sheol. They "slept", to use a biblical euphemism. The burning and perishing happens after Israel is raised from the dead and restored. The enemies of Israel, "all the nations" of the OT world from Adam to Rome who were in Hades, or Sheol, would be raised and then enter into eternal life, or eternal punishment. This is exactly how Isaiah predicted it and John is merely repeating him.

It is through the destruction of "the death" that any one can be raised to Eternal Life. If the Death still reigns, then no one can have eternal life. By understanding that "the death" is being cut off from Eternal Life, as seen in the Garden of Eden, then the "swallowing up" of the Death means that Eternal Life can now be had. But, as the prophets show, God must draw that person "into" the "gates". If such a person fails to come and drink of the water (Is 55.1-5), he shall "perish" in the "second death." It's that simple.

Zechariah 14 is perhaps even more explicit. In parallel with Isaiah in many, many places, this prophet foresees a time when:

And it shall come to pass in that day, that there shall not be light, but heavy clouds and thick; 7 And there shall be one day which shall be known as the LORD'S, not day, and not night; but it shall come to pass, that at evening time there shall be light. 8 And it shall come to pass in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem: half of them toward the eastern sea, and half of them toward the western sea; in summer and in winter shall it be. 9 And the LORD shall be King over all the earth; in that day shall the LORD be One, and His name one. 10 All the land shall be turned as the Arabah, from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem; and she shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place, from Benjamin's gate unto the place of the first gate, unto the corner gate, and from the tower of Hananel unto the king's winepresses. 11 And men shall dwell therein, and there shall be no more extermination; but Jerusalem shall dwell safely.

Again, the parallel language between this passage and Rev 21,22 is unmistakable. And the same pattern is seen in Isaiah as here, for after the Restoration of Israel, when, in Isaiah, the Death is no more, we have these "nations" in Zech. 14.16 who can still rebel against the Lord. Who are these nations? They are not saved. Obviously. But, isn't the Death swallowed up? Therefore, it means that the swallowing up of the Death does not mean, and the Spirit does not want us to infer, universal salvation for every single individual! No prophet teaches it. The swallowing up of the Death simply means that salvation ("living waters") and Eternal Life are now available.

One final passage should end this silly inference from the universalists. In Rev 22.14,15 we clearly, clearly have the same pattern as seen in the Prophets: inside the City, through the gate, are those who have eternal life. Outside the city are those who do not, but who may, at the calling of God, enter into the City. Those outside are the ones being invited inside. John is not making this up, dear readers. It was already written in the Prophets that the Age to Come would look like this. The death has been removed for those inside as well as those outside. If not, then no one outside could enter inside! However, the effects of being born "in Adam" have not been taken away.

The reign of the Death meant that one was born as a son to Adam and Eve, the mother of all the living. He was born in exile, cut off from eternal life with God, having no possibility of attaining Eternal Life and Righteousness with God. When he died, he entered "sheol" and "slept." That was the end of that. Not a good life, would you say? Now, God has arranged a new heavens and a new earth. This new arrangement for the world ended the reign of the death and provided for justification from "the sin" of Adam (Rom 5.17). Grace now reigns in Righteousness in the Age to Come, and some have thought that this means that now everyone "gets saved." No. We have proven that the Scriptures teach no such thing. Rather, then, what we are left to infer is that in the Age to Come, in the New Heavens and New Earth, people have sex like Adam and Eve did. Procreation did not end in A.D. 70! In the new arrangement, though, the East gate stands open! The Cherubim is gone! Now all nations have access to the true Tree of The Life! The Death has been swallowed up in victory!

Yet, the Scriptures teach that even after this victory, some nations will not come. They remain in Adam, having the knowledge of good and evil. We are born "outside" the Tree of Life. We all must "enter" the gates of the New Jerusalem. If we fail, then we have nothing but "the second death" to look forward, what Isaiah called "fiery destruction."

Remaining in Adam is not the "result" of his sin. Adam and Eve had kids, and these kids had kids, and so on, up to you and your kids. The flesh that Adam had is the same as yours and mine. The same way they produced kids is the same way we produce kids. Thus, we are "like Adam." That seems plain enough. This nonsense that Christ ended being "in Adam" since "the death " is no more confuses Paul's terms. "The death" and "Adam" are not the same. The Death was a penalty for what Adam did, not for who Adam was. The result of this penalty was exile from the Life. All men are still born "in Adam" and born "in exile." But, since the penalty has been removed, the Life can now be attained. But, the actual penalty and the effects of that penalty are also two different things. I could serve 25 years in prison. When I finish my term the penalty has been paid for and is no more. The effects however, remain. By failing to distinguish between cause and effect, many Preterists have made bad logical inferences.

As for this talk about how we have to "redefine" things, what about it? Luther "redefined" Roman Catholic theology. The question is, are we redefining Scriptures? If I am redefining bad theological definitions, then so be it. The fact of the matter is that I believe the Scriptures teach a plain message. We have shown without question that the swallowing up of the death hardly meant universal salvation for every individual. Therefore, the definition of "the death" that some have that leads them to make such a conclusion is a wrong, unscriptural definition. As I began this article, I noted that definitions are hard to come by. I have given mine. I have shown how it is that "the death" can be no more for all men without requiring the universal salvation of all men. The Scriptures unanimously teach this.

It is often times that for a theological movement to survive it must work through the problems that it raises. If it cannot, then it quickly goes by the wayside. By using traditional theological guides (like cause and effect, parallelisms, inferences drawn from comparison and contrast), I have shown that there is no contradiction between saying that Adolph Hitler was not ruled by the Death and the Sin of Adam. He was under the Age of Grace and Righteousness. However, being born under the effects of that now ended reign of the Death, Hitler appears to have never entered into Eternal Life. The "effects" and the "reign" are logically two different things. My solution is that the "effects" remain, but can be and are only reversed when one becomes a member of the Body of Jesus. The ending of the reign means that one can become a member. One can now be set free from the effects of that old reign, and be transformed from being a member of the body of the death and the sin, and become adopted to a new family.

One may ask, "how can the body of the Death" be around without the reign of the Death? Easy. The body of the Death is the Body generated as a result of (effect) the reign of the death. It is the death that is swallowed up, not the effects, which, in this case, is the body created by the Death that came through Adam. Being a member of the body of the death simply means being born as a "member" to the family of Adam and Eve, the mother of all the living. Under the reign of the Death, we could not be adopted by God. Israel's adoption was "according to the flesh" and it failed "because the flesh is weak." It was under the reign of the Sin and the Death. It was "not able" to come in to righteousness. Now, it "is able" to come in because the reign of the death has been effectively removed so that those under the effects of that now ended reign can be made new members of the Body of Christ, the Israel of God.

I suppose that my biggest point in all of this is that the Scriptures force me to think in such a way. The death is swallowed up for "all peoples" yet "some nations" still rebel and "perish". Thus, one raises the question, "how can that be?" It is because we wrongly see sin and rebellion as having its cause in the reign of the Death. Death does not have to be reigning in order for men to be evil. Being born give us that. We have, remember, the knowledge of good and evil. Did this cease in A.D. 70? Hardly. But, because the death's reign has ended, the true knowledge of good and evil (as God defines it) has infiltrated the world....and has been changing it. Our whole apologetics is built on this foundation that man cannot reason apart from God. This goes to the very heart of apologetics. Being born outside Eternal Life, in Adam, having the knowledge of good and evil did not cease. These are the effects of one man's sin. They are not the cause. Adam's sin was the cause. Adam's exile was the cause of all men's exile. In Christ, the effects can be reversed because the cause has been done away with through the atoning work of Christ. It is this type of logical solution that gives satisfaction to this issue.


[1] According to Simmons, they were not made sinners. They merely inherited the potential to become sinners. "That mankind inherited Adam's fallenness, but that no man is condemned before God based upon that fallenness until he personally acts upon it, having attained to the age of accountability" (art. cited above). Paul explicitly stated, "the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men" (Rom 5.18). This is where Simmons' Church of Christ Arminianism comes heavily into play and it continues throughout his theology. But, note, in the example given above concering Achan's sin, why did God route all the Israelites because one man's sin? He said, "Israel has sinned" not "Achan has sinned"! It is Simmons' failure to realize the corporate nature here in the beginning that undermines his theology throughout.

Top of page

To receive Kurt Simmons’ e-mail newsletter, The Sword & The Plow, click the Subscribe link:



All rights reserved.