Does King's Covenant Eschatology Lead to Universalism?

Simmons' Pt. IV

Editor's Note: This debate resulted from a challenge by Simmons to King and Presence Ministries to defend Covenant Eschatology.  King did not respond.  Instead, Sam Frost M.A. made a return challenge to Simmons, resulting in the instant debate. 


In our first debate, Sam failed to demonstrate that King’s Universalism comes from a source other than his Covenant Eschatology.   Because he had no case he could lay before the reader, Sam threw a temper tantrum and quit.  Sam now wants to rehabilitate himself; not by proofs he has suddenly found and wants to place in evidence, but by throwing more dust in the air to create confusion and divert attention from the question at hand. Ask yourself: have any of Sam’s articles shown that King arrived at Universalism by some route other than Covenant Eschatology?  Has Sam made any attempt to refute the evidence we have set before the reader showing the logical implications of Covenant Eschatology’s basic assumptions?  No.

 Syllogisms and the Logical Implications of King’s Doctrine

Sam wants to talk about the proper form of a logical syllogism, but will never address the logical implications of King’s eschatology.  He wants to talk about the number of translations that support his view of Romans five (all of two), but does not show how if a thousand such translations could be produced this would exculpate Covenant Eschatology from Universalism.  Sam wants to talk about all his training in logic and Greek grammar, he drops names of commentators no one knows or cares about (all of which is supposed to impress us), but he never gets around to sustaining the proposition he challenged me to debate!  In short, Sam’s whole presentation is consumed in irrelevant material and non-issues.  He has failed to carry the debate and now wants to save face. 

The logical implications of King’s Covenant Eschatology clearly lead to Universalism and other serious errors.  We have demonstrated these by prose (narrative), explaining King’s view, and how it led him and Presence Ministries to Universalism.  The basic premise of Covenant Eschatology is that the power of sin and death resided in the law of Moses.  Hence, Larry Siegle says “As long as the Law was in force there was no way to be restored to the presence of God.”[1]  Max King affirms the same: “The defeat of sin is tied to the annulment of the old aeon of law”[2]  This then becomes the basis of Tim King’s Universalism: “Man is reconciled to God because he no longer lives under the rule of sin and death as determined by the Mosaic world.”  In other words, King’s is a system of Universalism via Antinomianism.  Take away the source of condemnation and mankind is acquitted and justified before heaven’s throne.  Did Sam ever deal with this?  Did he ever attempt to demonstrate that this is not King’s view, or that, even if it is, it does not logically lead to Universalism?  No.  If he could have, he would have.  His failure can only be interpreted as defeat; a tacit confession that Covenant Eschatology does lead to Universalism and all the other errors we have assigned. 

This same teaching of King also diminishes the cross and bifurcates man’s redemption.  It denies that the cross triumphed over the law, affirming instead that the law had to be taken away before man could be saved!  Here are the quotes of Siegle and King again.  Read them and see that we are right: “As long as the Law was in force there was no way to be restored to the presence of God.”[3]  Max King affirms the same: “The defeat of sin is tied to the annulment of the old aeon of law”[4]  The law was not taken away so man could be saved from sin; it was because man was saved from sin that the law was taken away. It was schoolmaster to lead us to Christ, nothing more. Once Christ redeemed us from the debt of sin, the purpose of the law was fulfilled.  Sam asks: “If the death is defeated at the cross, according to Simmons, then why is Paul still looking forward to its defeat at the parousia of Christ?”  The reason death is not defeated until the eschaton is not because the law needed to be removed, but because Christ needed to carry his blood within the Holy of Holies.  When that was accomplished, Christ would emerge from the heavenly temple, to avenge his saints and raise the dead.  (Heb. 9:24-28)  We stated this in our last article.  Why didn’t Sam deal with it, since he felt the need to make another response?   

We stated in our last article that the passage of the law was soteriologically irrelevant; that it did not change man’s standing before God.  We pointed out that the law of Moses was impressed with no power not present in moral law binding upon men today.  Could anything strike more at the foundations of Covenant Eschatology than to assert the passage of the Mosaic law was a complete irrelevancy in terms of man’s standing with God?  Hardly!  King’s whole system is founded upon the assumption that law of Moses was “the state and power of death to be destroyed by the reign of Christ”[5]and that “The defeat of sin is tied to the annulment of the old aeon of law.”[6]  We then pointed out that if the moral law is invested with the same power of condemnation that sin under the Mosaic law held, there could be no resurrection as asserted by Covenant Eschatology.  Did Sam attempt to refute these arguments, which strike at the very the key-stone in the King arch?  No.  He never mentioned one word! 

We attempted to reduce what we demonstrated by prose (narrative) to the form of logical syllogisms.  Our case does not depend upon these syllogisms; they do not express any arguments we did not make by narrative or prose.  They are provided merely for the convenience of the reader that he may visualize the arguments “at a glance.”  Sam focuses all his energy on the “form” of the syllogism and ignores the implications of King’s doctrine which they attempt to express.  Take the syllogisms away; get rid of them entirely!  The arguments they embody still remain and Sam must deal with them.  But he has not and cannot.  Not one word. 

Here are the syllogisms again for the convenience of the reader.  Any person with average intelligence will recognize immediately that they express the substance of King’s system as we have shown by narrative and argument elsewhere. 

Syllogism No. 1 

Major Premise: The reign of sin and death over man was determined by the Mosaic law 

Minor Premise: The Mosaic law was annulled at the eschaton, losing all men of its power; therefore, 

Conclusion: All men are loosed of the power of sin and death (viz., universally reconciled to God). 

Syllogism No. 2

Major Premise: The power of sin and death over mankind resided in the Mosaic law.

Minor Premise: The Mosaic law was done away for all men for all time in A.D. 70.  Therefore,

Conclusion: All men are freed from the power of sin and death. 

Syllogism No. 3

Major Premise: The resurrection consisted in the removal of legal condemnation. 

Minor Premise:  Legal condemnation exists today despite annulment of the Mosaic law.  Therefore,

Conclusion: There was no spiritual resurrection based upon annulment of the Mosaic law.

The first is based upon Tim King’s statement: “Man is reconciled to God because he no longer lives under the rule of sin and death as determined by the Mosaic world. Through the gift of Christ he dwells in a world of righteousness and life. The issue is cosmic and corporate, not individual and limited.”  (The reader will notice how similar this is to Sam’s statement that sin and death have been banished from the cosmos.) The premises are not ours.  They are Tim King’s.  We disagree with them, but that is beside the point.  These are King’s reasons for urging “comprehensive grace.”  They rest 100% upon Covenant Eschatology, just as we have charged.  We reworked the conclusion in the first syllogism in our last article to remove the objection that it was in “bad form”; Sam still has not dealt with it, nor has he dealt with the narrative form of argument it represents.  When he does, perhaps we will have a debate.  Until then, it is all bluff and bluster.  (Since Sam cannot, I invite any other proponent of Covenant Eschatology to attempt to extricate the system from Universalism and error.  I will meet anyone King or anyone else cares to put forward in debate.  Jack Scott previously offered Don Preston’s and William Bell’s and his own help.  To these may be added Tim King, Kevin Beck, and Larry Siegle.  Brethren, Sam requires your rescue; he calls to you for help.  Alone or together, I humbly await your acceptance of this gentle offer. You are seven (eight with Max).  I am one.  Surely together you should be able to make a defense.  If you cannot rescue Covenant Eschatology, who can?  We do not urge you from malice, but brotherly affection, knowing we are friends, and are all equally committed to the truth.  Rescue Covenant Eschatology from Universalism and the errors we have assigned if you can.) 

The second is formulated from King’s teaching in general, particularly the notion that the law was the source of mankind’s condemnation and the power of sin and death.  Like the first syllogism, it shows King’s system leads to Universalism. 

The third shows that if a source of legal condemnation still exists beyond the Mosaic law (the moral law, for example) convicting all men of sin, then the “resurrection” affirmed by Covenant Eschatology could not have occurred.  This has the happy affect of rescuing the system from Universalism, but it overthrows the spiritualized view of the resurrection that makes Covenant Eschatology unique.  Thus, no matter which way they turn, proponents of King’s system are stuck – either with Universalism, or abandoning the corporate body view of the resurrection.  The choice is theirs.  Sam and Larry appear to choose Universalism, for they are unwilling to let go of the corporate body view.[7]   

Definition of Death 

Sam says that the definition of “the death” is the crux of the issue and decides it all.  “It is the conclusion of what is really and always the issue for me: the definition of "the Death… This is the very crux of the issue.”   Am I glad that Sam says the definition of death is the crux of the matter before us.  His definition (imputed Adamic death) leads to Universalism.  It does this because he condemns all men by this law, then casts it out of the cosmos, leaving nothing to condemn them.  “The Sin has been removed from the cosmos along with the Death. This is not just true for believers in Christ, but true for all men, everywhere.”  Sam says “There is no law taking into account our sins.”[8]  Thus, by Sam’s view, all men are acquitted; all are justified.  This is precisely the position of Tim King when he says Man is reconciled to God because he no longer lives under the rule of sin and death as determined by the Mosaic world.”   

Sam admits his system falls into Universalism: “Many would assume that the only result of such a theology is universal salvation for every man.  This would be true.”  So, Sam devises the “great escape.”  Jesus’ death took away the “cause” of sin and death, but left the “effect” in place.  All the logic in the world cannot make this system fly, and Sam knows it.  He just hopes you will forget what he said!  Dear reader, sin is the cause; the effect of sin is death.  The cause cannot be “un-done.”  Jesus did not un-do Adam’s or any other man’s transgression.  Rather, Jesus paid the penalty of death, remitting the punishment (legal effect) of sin for those who accept Jesus’ sacrifice in faith.   By his sacrifice, Jesus acquits the believer of juridical death and its sentence of eternal/second death.  But, for those that do not believe, the bondage of sin and death remains. Sin and death have not been removed from the cosmos one whit (Hades exists beyond the cosmos.) 

Sam’s Last Attempt to Impugn Us 

Sam thinks he has found a way to prove us wrong when we say that only Hadean death was destroyed in AD 70.  His argument goes like this: Rev. 20:14/21:4 = I Cor. 15:55 = Isa. 25:6-8 = Adamic death (Mosaic law by King’s view).  He then says that swallowing up death in victory means “salvation” is come.  (“One can see from the context that this swallowing up of "the death" means "His Salvation" has arrived.”)  Now, according to Sam, “all peoples” and “all nations” of Isa. 25:7 means all that shall ever be born.  Thinking he has turned the tables, Sam then says that since all those born until that time were in Hades, therefore we (Simmons) are affirming universal salvation.  (“All peoples are in Hades.  Hades is swallowed up for "all peoples" so that "all peoples" are released from Hades.  The swallowing up of Hades is the coming of "His Salvation."  Conclusion: all peoples are saved.”) 

The short answer to Sam’s argument is his definition of “all peoples.”  “All peoples” and “all nations” in Isa. 25:7 does not mean every man ever born as Sam asserts.  It means that every race and language of people would see and share in the salvation Christ offers to mankind. The prophet says, “all flesh” shall come and worship before him.  “All flesh” should see the glory of his salvation.  (Isa. 40:5; 66:23)   Does the prophet mean every man?  Not at all!  He means every race and language of men would partake in the salvation of Christ.  Isaiah says elsewhere, “All nations” shall flow into the church; “many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord.”  (Isa. 2:2, 3)  Simple.  Since all peoples and all nations does not mean every person, Sam has not turned the tables on us at all, and Sam’s argument comes to naught.  Nothing we say can be made to affirm Universalism. 

Dear reader, test it for yourself.  There are five kinds of death that can be identified in the Bible.  1) Moral/spiritual; 2) legal/juridical; 3) physical; 4) Hadean; 5) eternal/second death.  If any of these were destroyed in AD 70 other than Hadean death, Universalism will result.  If moral death (original sin/inherent fallenness) is gone, all men are returned to Edenic innocence and justified from sin; we are as Adam before the fall.  If legal/juridical death is abolished, then the sentence of death attached to sin is removed and all are acquitted; there is nothing to hold them accountable.  If physical death is annulled, all men will live forever on earth.  And if eternal/second death is done away, the penalty for sin is removed and all men go free.  Simple.  These are not difficult concepts.  I don’t know why Sam cannot deal with them. 

Sam goes into a fit because I affirm that Rev. 21:4 is talking about death resulting from persecution under Nero.  Hear him: “Simmons wrote, "When Revelation says there will be no more death, this should not be taken in an absolute sense.  This is clear from the fact that it also says there will be no more sorrow, crying, or pain.  Since these are still a very real and permanent part of human existence this side of eternity, it seems clear that the statement is intended to be understood in a relative sense."  In Simmons' exegesis Revelation 21.4 is not in reference to Isaiah 25.8!  Folks, SEE THE CONFUSION HERE!  Revelation 21.4 cannot, for Simmons, be Isaiah 25.8, because in the above quote, Simmons quotes I Co 15.54 WHICH QUOTES ISAIAH 25.8!!!!!  But, THERE, he says Paul is talking about the removal of HADEAN DEATH.  But, in Revelation 21.4 WHICH IS A DIRECT ALLUSION TO ISAIAH 25.8, Simmons FLIP FLOPS AGAIN saying that "the death" that is no more is NOT HADEAN DEATH!!!!!  However, as the context shows, "the death" that is thrown into the Lake of Fire is the same "the death" that is no more AS A RESULT OF BEING CAST INTO THE LAKE OF FIRE!!!!  How boneheaded does one have to be not to see the OBVIOUS run around we get here when we press the details of Simmons' exegesis” 

According to Sam, then, Rev. 20:14/21:4 = I Cor. 15:55 = Isa. 25:8 = Adamic death (Mosaic law per King).  Alright, Sam, have it your way; let these texts all refer to juridical death.  The result is Universalism.  For if there is “no more” juridical death, all men are justified.  Remember, you said it, Sam: “Many would assume that the only result of such a theology is universal salvation for every man.  This would be true.”  Tim King said it too: Man is reconciled to God because he no longer lives under the rule of sin and death as determined by the Mosaic world.”  Maybe I should quit at this point; Sam just gave away the debate. 

What about Rev. 21:4? 

But does our position regarding Rev. 21:4 conflict with Isa. 25:6-8?  Not at all.  In its historical context, the prophecies of Isaiah speak to the Assyrian and Babylonian armies that wasted the world from Egypt to Elam on the Caspian Sea, bringing fire and sword, famine, pestilence, and death.  In its historical context, Assyria and Babylon were the source of gloom and pall of death, “the veil cast over all nations;” in its historical context, Assyria and Babylon represented the overflowing scourge of death that would pass through the land and trod down men.  (Isa. 28:18)  It was in the destruction of Assyria and Babylon that the Lord would remove the veil of death and destruction from all nations.  The whole context of Isa. 25 is involved with the captivity under Assyria and Babylon and the defeat that God would ultimately deliver.  The chapter opens, mentioning how the Lord had made cites ruins, and defenced cities an heap (v. 2); it talks about the storm and blast of the nations, and the overthrow of Moab, the enemy of God’s people. (vv. 4, 5, 10) And in the midst of this, he mentions the defeat of death in the mountain of the Lord. How did he do this?  When Hezekiah was king, 185,000 Assyrians died before the walls of Jerusalem by a plague from the Lord (Isa. 37:36); the dead bodies of the Assyrian host were cast into Tophet (Gehenna) where they were consumed by fire and maggots (worms).  (Isa. 30:31-33)  It was also accomplished in the return of the captivity, which is characterized a ransom from death.  (Isa. 26:19)  Most commentators acknowledge that Hosea has the return of the captivity from Babylon in view when he says “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction.” (See Clarke in loc.)  Homer Hailey thus says, “Hosea looks not to Christ’s resurrection or to ours, but to the restoration of the people.”[9]  All are agreed, of course, that in their Messianic context, these passages look beyond the captivity to Christ; but the point remains: the death to be defeated spoke initially to the oppression of Assyria and the people’s captivity. If that is true of Hosea and Isaiah, why not John? 

Obviously, Paul does not have Assyria in view in I Cor. 15:55.  Paul is looking to another plague and scourge of death – Hades.  This is why Paul says “Where O Hades is thy victory?”  (I Cor. 15:55)  Hades was the prison that held man in its clutches.  Hades kept man from ascending to be with God in heaven.  Sin was defeated in Christ’s cross; but the last enemy (death/Hades) remained to be defeated.  This would occur in the resurrection of the last day.  John portrays this in Rev. 20:11-15, where Hades is cast into the lake of fire, signifying the defeat of the long enemy of man.  But in Rev. 21:4, he seems to have the death, sorrow, and tears of martyrdom and persecution in view – just as Isaiah and Hosea did before him.  Evidence of this is seen in the fact that tears, sorrowing, and crying are still present in the world and the church.  The prophet is only speaking relatively, not absolutely; he has in view the great tribulation, which was now past.  We give again Foy E. Wallace’s comments:

This passage was the fulfillment of the promise in chapter 7:14-17 which was vouchsafed by Christ himself that the faithful through tribulation would become recipients of the blessings signified in the symbolic phrases of these two texts.  The same figures of speech are employed by Isaiah in the descriptions of the blessings that should come upon Israel when freed from exile and returned to their land [Isa. 25:8; 35:10]…no more death referred to the martyrdom of the saints as chapter 2:10; neither sorrow nor crying referred to the sorrows of persecution; and neither any more pain was just another phrase for no more tribulation.[10]

But let us assume that Rev. 20:14 and 21:4 have the same death in view as Sam asserts they must.  Then, upon the further assumption that Isa. 25:6-8 again has the same death in view, what does Sam prove?  Nothing!  Sam’s whole argument turns on his faulty interpretation of “all peoples” in Isa. 25:7, mistaking it for every person, instead of what is really means, “every race, language, and nation.”  Hence, no matter how you approach it, Sam’s argument comes to nothing.  Every race, language and nation would see the salvation of God in Hades’ defeat.  Nothing in what we say or what Isaiah says can be turned to make us affirm Universal salvation for all men. 


Sam wants to retry the case, but has brought forward no new substantive evidence.  His whole motive in this last article was to save face.  Nothing he has said exculpates King’s Covenant Eschatology from Universalism.  There is only one verdict the evidence will support: Guilty!  Covenant Eschatology stands condemned.


[1] According to Siegle, the “body of death” is mankind under the Mosaic law:  “This is why Paul cried out for deliverance from the Mosaic "body of death" (Rom. 7:24).”  Siegle; from a comment posted on PlanetPreterist.

[2] Max R. King, The Cross and the Parousia of Christ, p. 644.

[3] According to Siegle, the “body of death” is mankind under the Mosaic law:  “This is why Paul cried out for deliverance from the Mosaic "body of death" (Rom. 7:24).”  Siegle; from a comment posted on PlanetPreterist.

[4] Max R. King, The Cross and the Parousia of Christ, p. 644.

[5] Max R. King, The Spirit of Prophecy (Warren, OH, 1971), pp. 144.

[6] Max R. King, The Cross and the Parousia of Christ, p. 644.

[7] “The essence of "Covenant Eschatology" is the removal of the effects of sin and death through the applied meaning of Christ's death carried through the Parousia in A.D. 70. The "collective" or "corporate" view is the only logical approach that takes up the theme of redemptive history and carries it to its victorious conclusion in Christ Jesus.” – From a post by Larry Siegle on appended to Sam’s last article.  Notice how much Larry sounds like King, and how little he sounds like the Bible.

[8] Samuel M. Frost, Exegetical Essays on the Resurrection of the Dead (Truth Voice Pub. 2004), p.157.

[9] Homer Hailey, The Minor Prophets (Hosea) (1193, Religious Supply, Inc.), p. 181.

[10] Foy E. Wallace Jr., The Book of Revelation (Ft. Worth, 1966), pp. 429, 430.


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