Frost's Second Critical Response toKurt Simmons' Bi-Millennialism
Misunderstandings abound in Simmons’ response to my posted critique. This is often due to human inability to know everything about the view one is dealing with. I am accused, for example, of holding to ‘baptismal regeneration.’ This is as false as false can be. How Mr. Simmons got that I hold to baptismal regeneration from the six pages I posted I have no idea. I stated quite plainly that I do not share in all of Mr. King’s reasoning in his Cross and the Parousia.
I do not see, for example, that those ‘baptized on behalf of the dead’ is a being regenerated in place of the dead. Nonetheless, the force of the Greek preposition ‘huper’ (on behalf of) must include some idea of identification with the ‘dead ones’ being denied. If those being baptized (and by this, I see no reason to not define this as ordinary baptism) were doing so ‘on behalf of the dead’ then Paul is making an organic connection between the ‘dead ones’ and those ‘being baptized’ on their behalf. The ‘firstfruits’ (which the NT notes as those who are ‘the first to believe’) of the ‘harvest’ was such a powerful and well known image that Paul’s argument is consistent when he appealed to Christ as the ‘firstfruits.’ ‘If the harvest (dead ones) are not being raised, then the firstfruit has not been raised.’ You cannot have a firstfruits resurrection and not anticipate the raising of the harvest, which the firstfruits are inextricably bound.
Nonetheless, it appears that Mr. Simmons downplays the application of the ‘firstfruits’ (the 144,000 of ethnic Israel are called ‘firstfruits’ in Rev 14.5). James, in 1.1, is writing to the ‘twelve tribes of Israel’ and calls them ‘a kind of firstfruits’ (1.18). They are pictured as in heavenly places with Christ (Rev 14.1-5), ‘before the throne.’ Were they ‘baptized’? Obviously. How else would they be with Christ? If the firstfruits anticipates the ‘harvest’ (Rev 14.14-20), then the imagery is plain. It is to this, which Simmons did not respond to, that the Corinthians deniers can ask, ‘In what body are they (the dead ones) coming?’ Paul’s answer: Christ’s. Old covenant Israel could not be raised from the dead unless they die in Christ, through his body, and are raised through his resurrection. He is the door through which they must enter. Those being baptized in Paul’s day, then, are directly connected to ‘the Hope’ of Israel, the ‘resurrection of the dead.’ Their baptism anticipated the hope. No ‘baptismal regeneration’ necessary.
Another interesting omission in Simmons’ response is the failure to deal with John 5.24-29. There, the Millennium of Rev 20 is spelled out. ‘At time is coming and now is when the dead…will live.’ Here, the ‘dead’ are said to be already ‘coming to life’ by hearing the words of Christ. This is why the 98% occurrences of resurrection language in the NT is cast in present tenses. Resurrection was not something that was just going to happen, but, through Christ, was already happening. What Simmons does is to take the old futurist dichotomy of ‘spiritual resurrection’ verses ‘actual, real resurrection,’ only he does not have a corpse coming out the casket. He calls the ‘spiritual resurrection’ of believers a mere ‘fiction!’ That is, the resurrection of those living is merely ‘legal and spiritual, not actual or spatial.’ This is the major fault of his Bi-Millennialism. What he is forced to do is to somehow divide the ‘real resurrection’ against the merely fictionalized spiritual resurrection, and this, to me, wrecks Preterism entirely. Ed Stevens must do the same thing by opting that we ‘get’ our bodies when we physically die, thus, holding out that what we have ‘right now’ while living on earth is merely a fictionalized ‘positional’ resurrection. To me, such contrivances only confuse the matter. What does it mean to me that I am fictionally raised from the dead? Big deal! However, if by faith the believer participates in resurrection (never ‘resurrections’ plural), the same resurrection-power and ‘life from the dead’ that the dead would be empowered with, then the matter changes drastically. This is essentially the contention, and the problem of Mr. Simmons trying to have his resurrection cake and eat it, too.
In the passage in John 5, the dead hear the voice of the son of God and ‘live.’ Then Jesus states that the time is coming ‘when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out’ and be judged according to their deeds (which occurs at the ending of the millennium, Rev 20.15-ff). King raised an objection here that is, in my opinion, devastating: If the dead who were hearing the voice of Christ were then ‘coming to life’ and eventually physically died, then would they, now in their graves, come to life AGAIN? That is TWO resurrections for one believer! Thus, the ‘first resurrection’ pictured in John 5.25 is mere fiction, whereas the ‘actual and spatial’ resurrection is 5.28. However, since the ‘dead’ in verse 25 have already ‘come to life,’ then they physically die, they will again be raised ‘from the tombs’ in the real resurrection. Does any of this make sense? Rather, the ‘first’ resurrection, to be consistent, is the ‘firstfruits’ resurrection performed by the same Spirit that raised Christ upon the believer, and would apply that same resurrection power to the dead ones. Those who died in Christ had already participated in resurrection life and would continue in the state of ‘being raised’ until the last trumpet. To radically separate and create two resurrections is nowhere, then, found in the Bible.
For Paul, ‘the death’ that reigned over all men meant that all men are dead, whether physically dead or not. All were under the dominion of the death and the sin because the law broken by Adam (Rom 5.12-ff). Therefore, ‘all are dying.’ To be raised from the dead does not, then, only mean being raised out of Hades as Simmons takes it. Clearly, the language of John 5 forbids this. Those currently hearing the words of Christ are called ‘the dead.’ Those in their graves to be raised are called ‘the dead.’ Both are called the dead. ‘Let the dead bury the dead.’ All are dead. That is, all were under the dominion of the death that ‘reigned’ over all, and ‘the sin’ that ‘reigned in the death.’ To read into this ‘physical death’ is to miss Paul’s covenantal meaning. Adam did not ‘die’ physically the day he ate, but he did come under the reign of the death and the sin: condemnation and alienation. Therefore, whether alive or dead, one was ‘dead’ in Adam. To be raised from the dead, then, can apply to the living and the physically dead. There is only ONE resurrection (the Bible never speaks of ‘resurrections’), and his name is Jesus. Mr. Simmons’ view destroys this picture by supposing that ‘resurrection from the dead’ means resurrection from Hades. This is false. The ‘dead’ went to Hades because they were already dead and under the dominion of the death, that is why all, living and physically expired could be called ‘dead.’ Simmons calls this a ‘fiction.’ I call it a reality. When God says ‘let the dead bury the dead’ he means exactly that: all are ‘dead ones.’ Physical death does not make on MORE dead than he already was! This reminds me of the doctor in The Princess Bride that stated that his client was only ‘mostly dead.’ It is the same with ‘fictionally dead.’ Dead is dead, and in Adam, all men were born dead, and it is THIS DEATH that Christ destroyed. There are Preterists today that still have a preoccupation with physical death and try to read it back into a Preterist exegesis, wreaking havoc in I Corinthians 15 and here in Rev 20. ‘The body of the death’ as Paul called it was the body he sought deliverance from. Now, was he really seeking deliverance from his physical body? ‘Please, God, kill me now!’ He was seeking deliverance from the ‘dead body’ that came through Adam. He was ‘dead in sins.’ If ‘dead in sins’ then what body was dead? Just like a murder mystery, there has to be a dead body when someone says, ‘hey, there’s a dead man in the living room!’ For Paul, it mattered not whether one was physically alive. Such a person, apart from Christ, was as dead as dead can be dead and no more dead than dead! To make this a mere ‘fiction’ is to fail to come to grips with what being ‘dead’ means.
Now, having said all of that, Simmons notes that I am not qualified to critique his views. That is, I must read every word of his book in order to critique his position. Well, I don’t know how he can say that. After several years in seminary and now working on a Ph.D., one can read very quickly a paper and ‘get’ the gist. I have learned how to do this, and did mistake some of his views, which I was corrected on one post sent to Planet Preterist, and responded with kindness in pointing it out. Mr. Simmons states that I believe in baptismal regeneration. He should not say such a thing unless he has read every word I have written in other places. In fact, he cannot say anything about me until he has done so. Now, would that be right? Or, can this not be a fair exchange of critiques? Where I am wrong, I am wrong, no big deal, just correct me. To say I am not ‘qualified’ though does not follow.
I dealt with the ‘article’ (‘the’ and ‘a’) in Rev 20 because Simmons makes that a part of his argument, and a weak one at that. He states that ‘grammatical analysis’ alone cannot give the correct rendering of the ‘panoramic view.’ Well, hopefully, the ‘panoramic view’ has come from the ‘grammatical analysis’ which builds the framework. The framework, having been built, should, then, ‘fit’ the grammar. If not, then, ‘Houston, we have a problem.’ My contention was that the article/non-article does not support the Bi-Millennial framework at all. It still remains to be seen. I could argue for a Tri-Millennialism, since the set of three ‘a thousand years/the thousands years’ occurs in Rev 20! Clearly, this is the weakest part of the argument. John has given us no indication of a ‘this is not that’ structure, and in Greek, there were ways to do that. If John is doing that here, then he has done so in such a way that better Greek scholars than I have missed this in the text. Rather, as it appears that Simmons admits, the ‘panoramic view’ is made to ‘fit’ the text in Rev 20. He cannot get this from ‘grammar alone’ which should make one suspicious.
In Daniel, the four empires are called ‘beasts.’ Who ever was ruling as the head, ruled the beast, and thus, could be called ‘the beast.’ To say that Nero and Nero alone is ‘the beast’ that demanded loyalty of the ‘inhabitable world’ is a fascinating claim. Tiberius was a ‘head’ of the ‘beast’ that equally demanded loyalty apart from God. Give to God and God alone what is God’s, not Caesar. For Israel to appeal to Caesar as their ‘king’ was monstrous and blasphemous, regardless of who was then the Emperor. The Emperor during the penning of Revelation was Nero, so he currently held power as the ‘head.’ His ‘head’ would soon die, however, and another would succeed him, being the ‘beast.’ Daniel calls them all ‘beasts.’ That is what ruling anti-God authorities are called: beasts. Hitler was a beast, as well as Stalin. Nebuchadnezzar was a beast as well as Alexander the Great. Whatever represented the icon (image) of the beast was equally ‘beastly’ being in connection with the beast. This is what the picture of the Whore riding on the beast meant: adultery and fornication, being made ‘one’ with the beast through fornication. She was just as ‘beastly’ as the beast, being the lover of the beast. The beast was her king, not Christ. She took the ‘mark’ of the beast by proclaiming under Tiberius, ‘we have no king, but Caesar.’ That is to take the mark. It is interesting that only John, in his Gospel, and same author in Revelation, mentions this line. ‘You cannot be a friend of Caesar’ they say in John. Clearly, the priests were friends. They were riding on the back of the beast, and had accepted his mark. Those who followed the Lamb, however, did not take his mark. Their loyalty was to King Jesus, not King Caesar, whoever he was. The ultimate loyalty of those so marked was the Dragon, their father, that serpent of old of whose seed they belonged.
Thus, those ‘of the firstfruits resurrection’ did not take the mark of Caesar (that is, paid him the only honor due him, but no more). There is nothing exegetically counting against this understanding of the passage that I can see. Simmons goes on to say that ‘no one’ would ever read ‘regeneration’ into those in the ‘first resurrection.’ Well, what does he do, then, with the multitude of commentators that have? I see ‘regeneration’ in the very term ‘resurrection’! I see ‘regeneration’ in the very phrase ‘they came to life.’ That is regeneration! If these martyrs had already come to die in Christ, Simmons would have to postulate that before they physically died, the ‘life’ they came to was ‘merely fictional.’ However, being ‘raised’ in the first resurrection to Paradise was ‘actual and spatial.’ I have dealt with this already and the problems attached to it. Thus, they were fictionally raised, then really raised. Rather, to repeat, they were already being raised, having come to the ‘newness of life’ in Christ. There are not ‘two resurrections’ for the one believer. That is the theology of futurism, not Preterism. What happens if this is accepted is that the ‘spiritual resurrection’ must become downgraded to ‘fiction’ in order that the ‘real and spatial’ resurrection take place at the point of physical death, devaluing the resurrection life the believer has while still living on the earth.
The ‘crown of life’ is not just for martyrs, but all believers. There is only one ‘life’ and his name is Jesus. Now, it is clear that Simmons sees resurrection life and reigning with God as something entered into through baptism in the death of Christ, but, if that is so, then those in the first resurrection, who were baptized into his death, are now raised into another resurrection, a first one. But, if this is the first one, then what of the one they entered into when they were being ‘made alive’ by the Spirit through baptism into the death of Christ? This resurrection would actually be the second one, and the general resurrection the third one! Tri-Millennialism indeed! They are ‘fictionally’ made alive, then ‘really’ made alive. It is best to tie the word ‘first’ with ‘firstfruits’ and the regenerative work of the resurrecting Spirit upon the ‘dead,’ all those who are dead, whether living or physically demised.
The next thing, and I will try to remain brief, is Simmons denial of the ‘interim’ reign of Christ. King makes the point that Christ’s reign is eternal. However, there is that little problem of Israel. Jesus reigned over the throne of David and had to ‘restore the kingdom to Israel’ (Acts 1.7). He had to unite the two Houses of Israel and sum all things up in Himself. This does not mean the end of his reign, but it does denote that there was some unfinished business that needed addressed. In Revelation, when the city of Jerusalem falls, the voice of heavens proclaims, ‘the kingdoms of the world have become the kingdom of our God and of his Christ.’ Well, was that not already the case? No. Paul pictures Jesus as ‘currently reigning’ (present tense), destroying ‘the death’ and ‘putting his enemies under his feet.’ This, in the writings of Paul and of John, was not accomplished until ‘the death’ was swallowed up. Thus, there was a wrapping of things up, a putting enemies under the feet, so that Jesus’ eternal reign would then be universal with no competitors and no enemies of heavenly powers. Then, Paul says, ‘he will deliver up the kingdom to God and be in subjection to him.’ This comes at the ‘end.’ This was an ‘interim reign’ of Christ to restore Israel into pristine reconciled condition before God, and deliver up the kingdom to God the father, presenting it as a bride without spot or wrinkle, having conquered her enemies and put them under his feet. The OT imagery here is plentiful in reference to David’s reign over Israel in II Samuel. Jesus had unfinished business that no earthly Davidic king could accomplish. He accomplished it, and when that was finished, then, and only then, could it be proclaimed, ‘the kingdoms of the world have become the kingdom of our God and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever.’ Thus, it is the transition of Jesus being in process of destroying his enemies and putting them under his feet, to the end when they were destroyed and put under his feet that marks the one eternal reign of God. The thousand years are the time allotted of the Messianic reign of Jesus over Israel on David’s throne crushing his enemies and putting them over his feet, with the saints raised with him fighting the heavenly powers of the Dragon, the Death, the Sin and the like. Some of these saints died physically in the process, and they are blessed for having done so. That Paul saw himself as fighting ‘principalities and powers’ is clear to anyone. The same powers that Christ was crushing is the same powers the saints were engaged in crushing as they were being raised to life unto eternal life in the ‘end.’ It is this that John pictured in Revelation 20, nothing more, nothing less.
Perhaps the most possibly convincing of Simmons argument is the appeal to the ‘ends’ of the ‘1,000 years.’ One need not appeal to Greek articles (by the way, Greek does not have an ‘a’ for an article. Like Latin and Hebrew, there is no ‘a’ as in German and English). The ‘rest of the dead’ are said to be raised ‘when the thousand years are completed.’ The Dragon is released ‘when the thousand years are completed.’ If the Dragon is released at the end of the thousand years, and the ‘rest of the dead’ are raised at the end of the same thousand years, then the ‘rest of the dead’ should have been raised when the Dragon was released. But, the Dragon is allowed to thrive ‘for a little season.’ That is, 1,240 days after the thousand years period. But, the resurrection of the ‘rest of the dead’ is after, it is supposed, God destroys Gog and Magog and the Dragon. It is here that Simmons can make a strong case (and the best argument, textually, that he has) for two millennia.
Let me state it again: the Dragon is released at the end of the thousand years. The rest of the dead are raised at the end of the thousand years. The Dragon continues to thrive for a little season after the thousand years, therefore, the resurrection of the rest of the dead must come begin during the time of the little season. However, the resurrection of the rest of the dead is pictured, it is supposed, as coming after the release of the Dragon and the obliteration of Gog and Magog, not before. Solution: two millennia. The ‘end’ of the millennial binding of the dragon cannot be the same ‘end’ of the millennial reign of the saints, since the Dragon is released earlier than the resurrection of the ‘rest of the dead.’ That is the contention.
I will contend that it does not. The end of both the first resurrection and the release of the Dragon occur at the same point. The release of the Dragon and the beginning of the resurrection of the ‘rest of the dead’ began at the same time. Otherwise, we have two ‘ends’ in view. Therefore, when John sees ‘the rest of the dead’ being raised and judged (20.11-15), that vision coincides with the ‘little season’ of the Dragon on earth and is not subsequent to it. The reason I say this is because of something that always puzzled me in the sixth chapter. When the fifth seal is opened, John sees the ‘souls’ of those ‘under the altar’ crying out for vengeance. I believe, as does Simmons, I think, that these are all those persecuted within Israel’s history. They are asking for God to take vengeance and ‘avenge our blood.’ This occurs when the ‘time of the resurrection’ occurs (11.18) and ‘he avenged their blood.’ Again, when the city falls, the blood is avenged (19.2). The blood of the prophets and servants sent to Israel is avenged when Jerusalem is crushed. However, these ‘souls’ are told to ‘wait for a little season (chronon mikron).’ They were ‘given white robes’ which, in fact, is the ‘righteousness of the saints’ (19.8). The full status of white robes occurs with the fall of Babylon (19.8 – the aorist passive of the verb ‘give’ lets us know that they were not given robes at the wedding feast, but, rather, had been previously given these robes so that at the wedding feast they may be ‘white and clean’). Yet, robes are already given to those ‘who go through the Great Tribulation’ in 7.14. The robes ‘are made white’ through the blood of the lamb. The Great Tribulation was the scene in which robes are made white and coincides with the ‘little season’ of the Dragon (chronon mikron – 20.3). It is during the little season that the robes are ‘made white’ and during the little season that the ‘souls’ are given white robes, or righteousness. If the righteousness of the saints here is that same righteousness of God being revealed from heaven apart from works but in the blood of Jesus (Ro 3.21-25), which what other ‘righteousness’ would there be, then it is in this period of time that the ‘rest of the dead’ are raised and judged.
The robes are washed and made completely white through the tribulation period, or little season. The souls are given white robes and told to wait for a little season. At the destruction of the City, the Bride is adorned with white robes. If being given white robes corresponds with resurrection, which I think it most certainly does, then we can say that the final cleansing of resurrection-transition for all was in that final ‘little season.’ Another passage of interest is Rev 3.4, where some in ‘Sardis’ have not ‘soiled their robes’ (himation). This clearly means that they already had robes, as priests of God, which they already were (1.6; 5.10). Those of the ‘first resurrection’ came to life and were ‘priests of God and of Christ and reigned.’ However, Simmons did not deal with this in his post. Were only those of the first resurrection priests? When did one become a priest? In 1.6 the ‘us’ are made (aorist tense) priests, and in 5.10. 5.10 occurs before the opening of the seals, thus, before the Great Tribulation has occurred. If those who are raised in the first resurrection are made priests, then were they not priests before? This, to me, is an insurmountable difficulty in Simmons view. Why does John point out that they ‘will be priests and reign’ when, clearly, all saints were already made priests and were already reigning with Christ, which Simmons admitted? Albeit, he calls it a fiction in contrast to the reality. So, then, maybe those of the first resurrection were ‘really’ priests, while those on earth merely fictional priests. Those in Paradise really reigned, while those on earth only fictionally reigned, spiritually speaking, of course! Then what of those whose robes were not soiled in Sardis? What of those in 16.15: Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his robes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed." Notice what it says: keeps his clothes with him so that he may not go naked.’ Go naked through what? The Great Tribulation! Was he already clothed upon before the tribulation? Clearly. He was not naked before! Some in Sardis had unsoiled robes. The souls are given white robes in heaven, and this can only mean that they were being raised, standing before the judgment seat of God and being given white robes. The garment imagery is found throughout Paul as well. These souls clearly were there under the altar before the ‘little season.’ But, if before the ‘little season’ they did not have white robes, then how could they be part of the ‘first resurrection’ of the same souls!!!??? If the first resurrection meant that the ‘souls’ were given white robes and it ended with the beginning of the little season, and the souls under the altar are given white robes and told to wait ‘for a little season,’ then, clearly, it is during the time of the little season that robes are being given in heaven (resurrection of the rest of the dead), and being washed in the blood on earth (first resurrection of regeneration). Those in heaven were being clothed during the little season, and those on earth, having ALREADY been clothed are urged to FURTHER WASH their robes in the little season/great tribulation and not enter that season naked (not being found naked). Thus, the saints in heaven and the saints on earth were both, during the little season, being further washed and raised as the transition between the old and new played itself out, ending in the destruction of Jerusalem when Jesus finally put ‘the death, the last enemy’ under his feet and swallowed it in victory, hurling ‘the death into the lake of fire’ (20.14). This is why Jesus urged the Ladiceans to purchase ‘white robes’ because she was ‘naked’ (see, again, 16.15), and was, then, about to enter into the ‘little season’ as ‘naked.’ Jesus is clearly telling them BEFORE they enter into the Great Tribulation/little season to buy white robes so that they could wear these white robes during the blood washing of the tribulation and endure into the finality of the completion of salvation (see Rev 22.14 – ‘blessed are those who are washing their robes so that they will have authority over the tree of life and enter by the gate of the city’). This is directed at the present audience of the revelation BEFORE they enter the Great Tribulation washing, meaning that they ALREADY had their robes. Again, if white robes means resurrection life, then those of the first resurrection had already been given robes and reigned as priests on earth (5.10) before those ‘souls under the altar’ were given white robes at the commencement of the ‘little season.’ Thus, the ‘first resurrection’ are those having already received robes, and the resurrection of the rest of the dead occurs at the beginning of the little season to the destruction of the Dragon. There is nothing within the patterns of John to not see 20.11-15 as occurring during the events of 20.7-10. 20.11-15 is the coming of God to judge the inhabitants of the world.
Those in Sardis already had these robes, and the 144,000 had white robes, the ‘firstfruits’ who had been redeemed, who were about to enter into the final washing of redemption, enduring until the end, having been made participants already of the resurrection through regeneration in the righteousness of Christ, reigning with God as priests, awaiting the final little season through which, provided they endured in their faith unto the end, would be ‘redeemed’ entirely. ‘When you see these things, lift up your heads, for your REDEMPTION has drawn nigh.’ ‘For we eagerly await the adoption of sons – the redemption of the body.’ Those who had proclaimed to have redemption, had already come into resurrection life, and they would endure unto the end having their righteous robes washed in the blood of the Lamb so as to be fully made white in the righteousness of Christ, obtaining once and for all consummated redemption and salvation.
For us, by faith, we await no redemption. It is entirely something that belongs to the believer upon faith, based on God’s election. We are made alive and given a robe of a priest and serve God ‘day and night’ in his temple, walking on streets of gold, where salvation is our walls and righteousness is our garments, the Holy Redeemed of God.
In conclusion, I realize that I have stumbled upon something here that has cleared up many matters for me in the book of Revelation that as an exegete I never could quite solve. To this, I owe Simmons a great deal of thanks. I think that he has tried to solve problems in the most humble of ways. This is my solution, and it is free to be shot down with others that I have had, which are in the waste can. I do not posit two resurrections. I do not see any need for two millennia. I see the strength of appealing to the fact that both endings of the millennium leads to a problem for the traditional single model theories. By positing that the same millennium of the binding is that of the C.E. 30-66 transition era, the solution is offered to place 20.11-15 as occurring during the events of 20.7-10. I offer it humbly in full anticipation of disagreement and rejection, but, as of now, I can see no other solution. I believe that the rest of the revelation confirms that this indeed is the case.
Allow me more room to ramble. See, if 20.11-15 comes after the ‘little season’ then you have even more time to judge all these dead people. How long does that take before the new heavens and the new earth? Notice that John, in 20.11 says, ‘the land and heavens fled from his presence.’ In Rev 6.9, the fifth seal is broken and the souls of the dead are then awarded with eternal life, white robes of righteousness during the ‘little season’ (6.11). The events of 6.12-17 is the ‘little season’ the ‘time of the great day of wrath’ when the ‘heaven is removed’ (same phrasing in 20.11) and ‘every mountain and every island.’ The kings of earth hide ‘from the face (prosopon) of the one who sits on the throne.’ This is the same as ‘the heaven and the land fled from his face (translated ‘presence’ but the word is ‘prosopon’). The firstfruits (144,000 – 7.1-8) are redeemed, having gone through ‘the great tribulation’ with their robes. It becomes clear at this point that those who were made priests and kings reigned ‘upon the earth’ (5.10), whereas the souls of the righteous dead where ‘given’ robes during the little season. That is, those souls were being raised from the dead and being handed robes, whereas those of the first resurrection already had robes on the earth by which they entered through the Great Tribulation on earth. The resurrection of the ‘rest of the dead’ (the souls under the alter) began when the Millennium ended and the Dragon was released wherein those priests on earth, already clothed, were further washing their robes in the blood. The 1,240 days, or times-time-half a time is the period of the great day of God’s wrath, the little season, and the time for judging the dead, avenging the souls of those long persecuted and raising them, whereas those on earth were being raised as they went through the tribulation. It is clear that before the little season, the ‘souls under the altar’ were persecuted already, before the little season began, but were not yet clothed with the white garments as those on earth had already been clothed, being prepared to enter the final end-time battle that would consummate the redemption of all, together. The righteous on earth did not precede those in heaven, but together with those on earth, all were washed in the blood of the lamb and awarded righteousness, being declared righteous, ‘in the day when God judges’ (Rom 2.14,16), which, for Paul, coincides with the ‘day of wrath’ (Rom 2.5, when they are rewarded according to their deeds – 2.6).
Thus, Simmons has caused me to actually solve a problem of my own, and I hope that this is looked at as yet another solution to the problem. The resurrection of the rest of the dead (the souls under the altar) took place during the ‘little season.’ The resurrection, then, of the ‘first resurrection’ are all those who were in process of having God finish the good work he had begun in them. ‘That he who began a good work in you will carry it through completion until the Day of Jesus Christ.’ The ‘Day of the Wrath of the Lamb’ was the ‘little season’ when heaven and the land fled from his face, when the Dragon was released, and when the rest of the dead were being judged according to their deeds along with those on earth who, already having the work of redemption begun in them through being made alive by the Spirit, participated in the end time struggle that brought to completion that which he had begun in them.
That this is a more probable solution seems likely to me than supposing two resurrections and two millennia. The Millennium was the reign of Christ in destroying his enemies, after which his eternal reign, already begun, would be forever, having no enemies to contend with in the heavenly realm. Indeed: God is all in all.
Finally, and briefly, I must
continue to note Simmons false accusation that Max King taught a
‘vicarious baptism’ in the sense that he entertains. He continues to
insist that this is what King states, when, in fact, King explicitly
rejects this in his book, Cross and the Parousia, pp. 514-515. If
Israel, the 144,000 of that generation, were being baptized, then
why? For the anticipated arrival of the harvest, of which they were
‘firstfruits’ of (Rom 11.5). You cannot have firstfruits with the
harvest. The harvest was being denied by ‘some’ in Corinth: Israel
is not being nationalistically raised from the dead. Instead, God
had cut Israel off, since she died in her sins, apart from Christ,
apart from baptism in Christ in and through his body, so they
contended. Then, Paul can ask, why are Jews being baptized for the
remission of sins in hope of the resurrection of the dead? He is
tying them together with the harvest, but if there is no harvest,
then there cannot be any firstfruits. King is drawing attention to
the ‘communal-redemptive’ aspect of baptism, not the
radical-individual aspect. In pp. 529-532 King, again, explicitly
denies ‘pagan notions of vicarious baptism.’ Thus, why Simmons
continues to take King out of context is simply slanderous. Israel
of old was redeemed through the body of Christ. The body of Christ
was equally the church. Paul ties these two together that he can
speak of one or the other as the same. Therefore, the baptism of
those Jews into Christ tied Israel, of which those Jews were related
to according to the flesh, to Christ. The firstfruits are intimately
bound with the harvest, being of the same lot, and if the
firstfruits is holy, then so is the whole lump (Rom 11.5). This is
the corporate dimension of baptism that Simmons fails to grasp. King
can write, then, that if the firstfruits were not baptized, then the
dead would have failed to come into their promises from the
perspective that the firstfruits are organically tied to Israel.
Thus, if part of the whole is washed, then the whole is washed.
Since Israel under the old covenant was not washed, then those Jews
coming in through baptism could be washed by God through Christ, and
through their washing, ‘all Israel’ would be saved through Christ
and Christ alone through the response of those ‘of Israel’ in part.
The response of the part brought about the salvation of the whole.
If part is holy, then so is the whole. If part is not holy, then
neither is the whole. If the part did not respond to baptism, how,
then, could the whole come in? In what body are they being raised?
In what body are they coming in? How can they come into salvation
apart from the body of Christ, through which, they must die and be
made alive? Was Israel redeemed apart from the body of Christ? May
it never be said! How, then, were they made members of that body?
There is only ‘one body’ and ‘one new man’ for Paul that is
redeemed. How did old covenant Israel come into that body, that one
new man? Were they baptized for the remission of sins in the name of
Jesus? Clearly not. Did they receive the outpoured Holy Spirit of
Promise? Clearly not. Did they obtain what they so earnestly sought?
Clearly not. Did the firstfruits? Clearly, yes. Thus, if the
firstfruits obtained what Israel so earnestly sought for, and the
whole is holy because of the firstfruits, then those being baptized
‘on behalf of the dead’ are clearly, organically connected to the
dead whose behalf they were being baptized for. Simmons wrote that
the blood of Jesus ‘flows directly back to the OT saints, not
through the firstfruit Jews.’ Amen. How? Notice what he is saying,
which advocates our position. The BLOOD of Jesus flows directly back
to the OT saints. Let us read Paul: ‘we have now been justified by
his blood’ (Rom 5.9). ‘We were reconciled to him through his death’
(Rom 5.10). ‘We were baptized into his death’ (6.3). ‘the old man
was crucified in order to destroy the body of the sin’ (6.6). ‘You
have died to the Torah through the body of Christ’ (7.4). ‘we are
many members in the body of Christ’ (12.5). How did Israel, then,
under Torah, in Adam, under the Death, as the old man, with a body
of the sin and the death, die? How did the ‘blood of Jesus flow
directly back to’ them? Was it not THROUGH THE BODY OF CHRIST? Were
they not, then, BEING MADE MEMBERS OF THE BODY OF CHRIST? Simmons
must answer this question: is OT Israel not apart of the one body?
In what body was Israel put to death? Christ’s? How? If Israel so
needed to be set free from Torah, as Paul stated ‘all men’ needed,
and being set free from Torah comes as one dies through the body of
Christ, then the ONLY WAY Israel could be redeemed is through the
body of Christ, the last Adam, the spiritual body. Therefore, they
were made MEMBERS of that body through Spirit’s applying of
blessings upon the firstfruits so that through the part, the whole
could also be included. There is no ‘vicarious’ redemption from the
standpoint that it was possible that Israel be lost if no Jew
responded to the Gospel. Rather, it was God’s design to save Israel
by bringing them into the body of Christ through the firstfruits.
Christ himself was a Jew, born under the law, and according to the
flesh, organically tied to Israel. He is the FIRSTFRUIT, and those
Jews who so identified with him could also be called ‘firstfruits.’
Firstfruit of WHAT? Israel. Israel cannot be saved apart from being
made members of the body of Christ and they made members, the blood
directly flowed back to them, because they were members of the same
body in which the blood flowed to all members. What Simmons misses
is the corporate aspect of Paul’s soteriology. Thus, he is forced to
downplay the spiritual regeneration as ‘fiction’ and reduce
resurrection to resurrection from Hades on all accounts. We here on
earth still get the shaft in some way ‘till we get to heaven with
new bodies’ and ‘really’ get saved.
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