Simmons Reponse to Frost

Simmons’ Response to Frost

 

 

Editor's Note:  Mr. Frost wrote his article in response to my article against Max King's approach to "the" millennium of Revelation twenty.  The reader should first reader my article against King ( click here - Transmillenarianism), then precede to Frost's article, then my response below.

 

I appreciate Mr. Frost’s time in attempting to respond to my book and recent articles.  Debate is the fire that purges rust from iron.  I welcome the opportunity for exchange as it can only help in the quest for truth.  And I think that is what we all want, including Frost.  It is unclear to me that Frost is qualified to offer a critical analysis of my book as he has never read it (“I thumbed through his book being sold at John Anderson’s conference on Revelation”).  Would I be qualified to write about King’s books having never read them?  I doubt it.  Because he has not read my book, Frost’s comments at best are incomplete and at worst misrepresent my position in several places.  However, because his misrepresentations touch issues that are collateral to the main thrust of his article, I will merely note some of the more serious one’s in a footnote[1] and cut to the chase, which is the two millennial approach I take to Revelation twenty. 

The First Resurrection 

I. Blessed State of the Martyrs in Paradise or Baptismal Regeneration?

Frost’s attack on “Bimillennialism” takes two basic approaches. The first has to do with the meaning of the first resurrection, the second deals with the Greek article.  Concerning the first, Frost attempts to show that the first resurrection and thousand-year reign of the saints and martyrs speaks to regeneration in Christ.  He points to the language of Rev. 20:3 “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them” and urges that this refers to the living saints on this side of eternity, concluding that they were partakers of the first resurrection also. For Frost and King, the millennium is the reign of Christ from Pentecost to the consummation in A.D. 70.  The saints shared in this reign by death and resurrection with Christ through baptism.  (Rom. 6:3-6; Col. 2:11, 12)[2]  This thousand-year reign continued even in death and martyrdom.  Hence, according to Frost, the martyrs in Rev. 20:3-6 are simply continuing a reign begun when they were baptized.[3] 

The fundamental flaw with this approach is that the Bible is SILENT about an “interim reign” of Christ.  Christ reigns eternally:  “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”  (Lk. 1:32, 33; cf. Isa. 9:6, 7)   Thus, according to scripture there is only the eternal reign of Christ.  Not a word about an interim reign of a thousand years.  Placing this thousand-year reign prior to the second coming makes King’s system of Transmillenarianism a species of fulfilled Postmillennialism.  Like Postmillennialism, King’s and Frost’s thousand-year reign of Christ exists only in the shadow land of their own logical deductions, nowhere else.  Not one word of scripture can be produced in support of such a notion.  There is a thousand-year binding of the dragon and a thousand-year reign of the saints in the first resurrection, but no thousand-year reign of Christ mentioned anywhere.  Hence, the analogia fidei requires that we reject Transmillenarianism from its inception as it a truly novel doctrine, taught nowhere in the Bible either distinctly or by necessary implication.

The position of Bimillennialism is that the first resurrection depicts the souls of the saved in Hades Paradise. Frost labors under the impression that it is Simmons’ position that those depicted in Rev. 20:4-6 are “only” the martyrs under Nero.  But that is not true.  My position, as set out in my book, is that all the righteous from Abel to the general resurrection were partakers of the “first resurrection,” not just martyrs.  Moreover, the living share in this reign inasmuch as they are joined in with the saved in Paradise.[4]  Paul says, “For ye are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God.”  (Col. 3:3)  The righteous dead went to Paradise pending the resurrection.  (Lk. 24:43)   Although dead in trespasses and sins, the living saints were “raised up together and made to sit together” with the saved in heavenly places (Paradise) in Christ Jesus.  (Eph. 2:6)   Of course, this was merely a fiction.  They weren’t really dead and had not really gone to Paradise.  It was simply that they were considered to be dead and joined with the saved in Paradise in contemplation of law by identification with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.  However, while it is not incorrect to say the living were partakers in the first resurrection, it is important to bear in mind that their participation was merely legal and spiritual, not actual or spatial.  This is important because the first resurrection speaks to the rest of the saved in Paradise, not regeneration or an imaginary millennial reign of Christ. 

No one reading Rev. 20:4-6 in isolation would see regeneration in that passage, no one.  Baptism is not there, conversion is not there, repentance is not there.  None of the elements of regeneration are present.  The only way to get regeneration into the passage is to import it from Rom. 6:3-6 and Eph. 2:6, and similar texts.  However, read alone, the emphasis in Rev. 20:4-6 indisputably is upon the state of the deceased saints in Paradise.  Although the living saints may have shared in this reign by the fiction of their death and resurrection with Christ, they clearly are not the focal point of the passage.  In fact, assuming the living saints are depicted in Rev. 20:4 at all, as often as not they go entirely unnoticed![5]  Attention is almost always exclusively focused upon the souls of the martyrs.  To shift the emphasis from the martyrs to the living, regenerated saints as King and Frost do is to misapply the text.  It removes the first resurrection from Paradise and the Hadean realm where the saved from Abel onward awaited the general resurrection and places it on the wrong side of eternity, making it apply to the forty-year period from Pentecost to A.D. 70.   

Jesus said, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life…He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.”  (Rev.  2:10, 11)  “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame and am sit down with my Father in his throne.”  (Rev. 3:21; emphasis added.)  The martyrs have overcome; they have been faithful unto death and have given their lives in testimony under the beast.  Hence, they live and reign in Paradise a “thousand years” with Christ pending their eternal inheritance in heaven.  That is the context of the first resurrection, not regeneration!  The book of Revelation pivots upon the theme of the crisis that would overtake the church in the persecution under Nero.  It would be very strange in the midst of visions of this crisis and the suffering the saints were to endure for John to suddenly take up the subject of the believer’s reign with Christ through baptism!  Who can believe it?  Although, as we have stated, it is true that the living saints were joined in contemplation of law with the deceased saints in Paradise, that is hardly the point of the text.  The point of the passage is the blessed state of the martyrs in Paradise where they are tenderly gathered to rest by God. 

“Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.”  (Rev. 14:13)  Those mentioned in Rev. 14:13 here are the same individuals portrayed in Rev. 20:4-6 as having won the martyr’s crown.  The Spirit pronounces a blessing upon them in martyrdom because they will be tenderly gathered by God into Paradise. Hence, their deaths under the dragon, beast, and false prophet are not a defeat, but a victory.  They have overcome and are sit down with Christ in his throne.  (Rev. 2:26, 27; 3:20, 21)  Their appearance in Rev. 20 is merely parenthetical and shows that, while God is preparing the destruction of the dragon, the martyrs are safely and tenderly gathered to rest.  Rev. 20:4-6 is a window into the blessed estate of the martyrs in Hades alluded to in Rev. 14:9-13, not a lesson on baptismal regeneration or the earthly participation of the living in a purported millennial reign of Christ.

II.  Identity of the Martyrs

Frost supplements his baptismal-regeneration argument with an attack upon the identity of the martyrs.  For reasons that are not clear, it is important to Frost that these martyrs die under anybody but Nero.  Apparently, this is his way of “opening up” the first resurrection so he can shift it from a picture of the blessed estate of the martyrs in Paradise to the regeneration of believers.  His arguments are not persuasive.  Bimillennialism holds that the martyrs in Rev. 20:4-6 are to be identified with the persecution under Nero.  The reason for this is the specific reference to their being beheaded for not worshipping the beast or receiving his mark.  Frost argues that the martyrs may have died under the harlot (Jerusalem), for she is in league with the beast, but the fact that the martyrs are beheaded belies this argument.  Beheading was a Roman form of execution; stoning was the Jewish form of execution.[6]  The woman may have been a driving force of the persecution under Nero in Asia and Palestine, but it is the beast that has authority to put to death.  (Rev. 13:2; cf. Jno. 18:31)  Without the beast the woman can do nothing.  These saints died under Roman administration, hence they were beheaded.  The “mark of the beast” is an obvious reference to Nero as it is his name - and only his name - that is given in Revelation in connection with the beast.  (Rev. 13:18) [7] 

Frost argues that “it is not necessary to think that the ‘beheading’ here must take place only under Nero, or the receiving of the mark of the beast must only refer to Nero’s mark. Every emperor represented the beast while in power.”  But this is merely asserted, not proved.  For Frost’s argument to be correct, it would have to be shown that other emperor’s names add up to six hundred three score and six and that there were persecutions under their reigns in which Christians were put to death for not wearing the “mark of the beast.”   When Frost can produce that evidence I will concede his point. 

Frost makes much of the fact that the beast has seven heads.  What of it?  It also has ten horns.  Frost’s assertion that “every emperor represented the beast while in power” has no exegetical basis.  What makes the beast answer to the heads and not the horns?  The horns are as much symbols of the beast’s political powers and the heads, why seize upon the heads?  But even if Frost’s argument were right it would prove too much.  According to Frost’s “emperor-equals-beast” argument, there would have to be no emperor on the throne at the time John wrote, for John says the beast “was and is not.”  (Rev. 17:8)   Yet, to the contrary, John says the sixth emperor was in fact reigning when he wrote the Apocalypse.   (v. 10)  Thus, even though the beast “is not” the sixth emperor “is.”  Therefore, the beast is clearly something separate from the ruling emperor.  Frost’s assertion that “every emperor represented the beast while in power,” simply cannot be sustained.  Indeed, if it could he would have cited a scripture reference to support it.  But as it is it may be safely dismissed.

The beast is the persecuting power of the empire.  In this it is distinguished from its civil and military power.  The sixth emperor (Nero) was reigning when John wrote the Revelation. (Rev. 17:10)  The beast “was and is not” but was “about to ascend out of the bottomless pit.”  (v. 8; cf. 11:7)  “Was” speaks to a prior persecution, almost certainly the persecution that arose over Stephen; “is  not” speaks to the cessation of that persecution.  The mortal wound to the beast’s head (Rev. 13:3, 14) would heal and it would arise from the bottomless pit in a renewed persecution under Nero.  It is this persecution that was the great crisis that would overtake the seven churches of Asia.  The images of Rev. 20:4-6 show that those who would die under the beast would not be forgotten by God, but would live and reign with Christ in Paradise. 

Frost observes that John uses the perfect tense in relation to martyrs’ deaths and argues that this is evidence these were individuals who suffered martyrdom before John wrote and therefore could not depict those who would die under Nero.  Frost is wrong.  In saying he saw the souls of them that “were beheaded” before the persecution had begun, John is using the “prophetic perfect” tense.  This tense treats a future fact or event as if it was already accomplished and so uses the perfect tense to describe it.  This is typical of the prophets.  For example, Isaiah says of Jesus, “The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”  (Isa. 53:6; emphasis added.)  Here Isaiah uses the perfect tense six hundred years before the fact!  (Cf. vv. 4, 7, 7 9, 10)  The twenty-second psalm speaks prophetically of Christ’s crucifixion and suffering, all in the past tense, a thousand years before it occurred.  God told Abraham, “a father of many nations have I have made thee.”  (Gen.  17:5)  This prophecy was fulfilled in Christ about two thousand years later.  (Rom. 4:17)  Use of the perfect tense (“I have made”) therefore is clearly seen to be prophetic. In Revelation, John uses the past tense in relation to the resurrection.  (Rev. 20:12-15)  Does this mean the resurrection was past when John wrote?  Clearly, Frost’s argument based upon the perfect tense used by John in Rev. 20:4 is without merit. 

This pretty much represents Frost’s material regarding the first resurrection.  Has Frost made his case?  Are you convinced that Nero is not referred to in Rev. 20:4 when it mentions the martyrs having died for not receiving the “mark of the beast?” Can you find any reference anywhere in the Bible to an interim, thousand year reign of Christ?  Are you convinced that the first resurrection is conversion and regeneration?  Is this what John is writing about in the midst of his visions about the persecution under the dragon, beast, and false prophet?  Isn’t the better view, in light of the overall context, that John is portraying the blessed estate of the martyrs in Paradise where they are tenderly gathered to rest by God having suffered martyrdom under Nero?

Two Millennia

I.  Frost’s Bimillennial Preterism or Simmons?

To read Frost’s article you would think that I built my case for two millennia around the presence/absence of the Greek article (“the”).  But that is simply not the case.  In my  book and articles, I offer no fewer than five arguments why two millennia are contemplated by the text.  Five, but Frost zeros in on only one!  That Frost chose to direct his comments only to questions about the Greek article is therefore somewhat disingenuous for it misrepresents the case to the reader, leading them to think the case stands or falls upon the single issue of the Greek article.  Truth is not served by this type of approach.  In fairness, Frost should have brought each argument out one by one and dealt with them forthrightly.  Then the reader would have been in a position to judge the merits of the case. 

For example, that there are two millennia is seen by the fact there are two “resurrections”- one when the dragon is loosed from the bottomless pit, (Rev. 20:7; cf. 11:7; 17:8), the other when the saints are gathered out of Paradise to inherit eternity in heaven.  (Rev. 20:12-15)  The question thus becomes, how can the “thousand years” represented by the binding of the dragon and the reign of the martyrs be the same “thousand years” when the acts associated with them terminate at different points of time?  Doesn’t the fact that the thousand-year periods end at different junctures prove two millennia are contemplated by the text?  Indeed, Frost’s own analysis shows this to be true.

According to Frost, the “first resurrection” represents the saints “coming to life” by obeying the gospel from and after Pentecost.  Frost gets this from Max King who holds that the first resurrection symbolizes the “‘pre-end-of-the-age’ saints who came to life in advance of the end of history (the Jewish age).”[8]  The end of the saints’ reign occurs at the A.D. 70 consummation:  “The death and resurrection of the pre-end-of-the-age saints covers the time of Christ’s pre-parousia reign from the cross to the A.D. 70 end of the age.  It is the completion of the first resurrection.”[9]  Thus, according to Frost (and King), the thousand-year reign of the saints speaks to the regeneration of the saints during this approximately forty-year period. 

So much for the reign of the saints, what is Frost’s position on the binding of the dragon?  Frost is silent on this score, but since he is taking up King’s part, we will assume that he agrees with King.  For King the binding of the dragon is the cross of Christ:  “But how was Satan bound?...If our time frame of the millennium is correct, the focal point for the decisive binding of Satan is the death of Christ.  This is a logical place for the beginning of the millennium.”[10]  If the dragon’s binding began at the cross, when did it end?  According to Frost, the end of the millennial binding of the dragon ceased before the Jewish war with Rome:  “The point is clear, exegetically: John is writing in the time when the beast/dragon is not because he is bound, but he was about to come up out of the abyss and destroy the woman, the Great City, the Beloved City, the Holy City (11.2), or Jerusalem.”  King agrees with this, placing the loosing of the dragon at the battle of Gog and Magog, which he identifies with the Jewish revolt from Rome.[11]  Thus, according to King and Frost, the millennium of the saints reaches from the cross/Pentecost to the A.D. 70 consummation, but the binding of the dragon stops in A.D. 66 when the dragon is loosed to begin the war with the Jews.  Thus the “thousand-year” binding of the dragon is at least four years shorter than the thousand-year reign of the saints!  But according to Frost, there is only one thousand year period in Revelation twenty.  Apparently the thousand-year binding of the dragon was just a little shorter than the thousand-year reign of the saints.  But no bother, they are still the same “thousand years!”

Clearly, this is proof positive that there are two millennial periods contemplated by the text.  Since the thousand-year binding of the dragon and the thousand-year reign of the martyrs end at different times and are marked by different events, they cannot be the same “thousand-years.”  The dragon is loosed earlier in time than the consummation of the age and the end of the first resurrection in A.D. 70. That being true, the one cannot be defined by the other or tied to the same historical referent.  Thus, whether the reader adopts Simmons’ or Frost’s view doesn’t really matter; by either interpretation he is getting two millennia! 

II. The Greek Article

Frost’s argument about the Greek article is unfortunate. What does the average reader know about Greek grammar?  It is really a disservice to the reader to speak in terms of the “anarthrous use of the adjective-noun phrases” and “the articulate use of the same” because they average reader is just not equipped to make an informed judgment of such things. This sort of argument seems more of an attempt to perplex than enlighten. Thus, we will not burden the reader with needless technical terms that add nothing to the substance of the argument.  Instead, we will explain our position as succinctly as possible and then interact with Frost’s objection to it.

Throughout Revelation John habitually begins a new vision with the phrase “and I saw” or its literary equivalent “and I heard” or words to the same effect.  (Cf. Rev. 4:1; 5:1, 2, 6, 11; 6:1, 2, 8, 9,12; 7:1, 9; 8:2; ad infinitum.) Thus, in Rev. 20:1, John states “And I saw an angel come down from heaven.”  And so begins the vision of the binding of the dragon.  In Rev. 20:4 another vision begins with the same phrase “And I saw thrones.”  And so begins the vision of the reign of the saints and martyrs.  Two visions, each marked by a phrase habitually used by John to introduce new facts or indicate a change of subject.  These two visions are marked by corresponding grammatical markers.  Thus, John says that the angel laid hold of the dragon and bound him “a thousand years.” (Rev. 20:2)  The term “a” introduces a new subject, viz., a thousand-years.  Subsequent references to this thousand-year binding of the dragon are preceded by the term “the.”  Hence, in v. 3, John states that the angel cast him into the bottomless pit that he should not deceive the nations any more “till the thousand years should be fulfilled.”  Here the article (“the”) is referential; it does not introduce another thousand years, it refers back to the thousand years introduced in v. 2.   In v. 7, John refers to this thousand years a second time, again prefacing it by the article:  “And when the thousand years are expired,” etc.  Does John introduce another thousand-year period here?  Not at all.  Use of the article is referential; it directs our attention back to the thousand-year period originally introduced in v. 2.

However, in v. 4 a different picture emerges.  John introduces a new vision saying, “And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus…and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.”  That this is not the thousand years during which the dragon is bound is seen by the absence of the article, translated in English by supplying the word “a.”  “A” introduces a new subject.  Had John intended us to understand that the martyrs reigned the thousand years the dragon was bound he would have indicated as much by saying “they lived and reigned the thousand years.”  Instead, he says, “they lived and reigned a thousand years.”  Hence, a new vision and another thousand years.  Simple. 

Examples of this abound in Revelation.  Thus, John says in chapter seventeen, “And I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet colored beast…and the woman was arrayed in purple…and I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints…and the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel?  I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her.”  (Rev. 17:3-7)  Notice that here a woman and a beast are both introduced by the term “a,” but that all subsequent references to them are preceded by the term “the.”  In each case the term “the” shows that the same subject is under discussion.  Had John said instead, “And I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet colored beast…and the woman was arrayed in purple…And I saw a woman drunken with the blood of the saints” the reader would be correct in understanding John to introduce another woman when he states he saw a woman drunk with the blood of the saints.   “A” introduces a new subject; “the” refers us back to it again.  Surely it does not require a Greek grammar to take notice of this simple phenomenon so obvious and so common in Revelation. 

Applied to the millennia of Revelation twenty, we hold that the introduction of a new vision in verse four, followed by the use of the phrase “a thousand years,” supports the conclusion that another thousand years is in view and not “the” thousand years the dragon was bound.  What is Frost’s argument against the referential use of the article as set out by Simmons?  He confirms what we have just said! Hear him:  “The Greek articles [sic] that occurs in the second instance (20.3) refers back to the inarticulate phrase in 20.2, and is, thus, anaphoric as Greek articles often are. In Greek, it is not at all necessary to continue the use of articles if anywhere in the immediate context an article is used. Thus, in Greek, one can write, “get bread and water” and later, “did you get the bread and the water like I asked?” The article in the second sentence refers back to the inarticulate ‘bread and water.’”

Did you catch that?  Hear him again: “The Greek articles [sic] that occurs in the second instance (20:3) refers back to the inarticulate phrase in 20:2…the article in the second sentence refers back to the inarticulate ‘bread and water’” of the first sentence.  Frost thus twice confirms everything we have said!  The article is referential!  But if the article is referential, what is signified by its absence in the context of a new vision?  Surely it is to introduce a new subjectviz., another thousand years.  Thus, as so articulately put by Max King: “Satan is bound a thousand years and the saints lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years…These two one thousand year terms are like the North and South Poles…”[12]   Thank you Max and Sam for establishing our case for two millennia.  I could not have done it better myself! 

Frost says “no one has ever suggested such a thing as a result who knows their Greek.”  But Frost and King both suggest the very thing we do – Frost by twice stating a rule of grammar, King by applying the rule to the millennia of Revelation twenty.  But we do not need to rely upon them.  In his commentary, The Apocalypse of St. John, Swete notes this use of the article in connection with the beast in Rev. 11:7 (“the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them,” etc.) stating, “Hitherto there has been no mention made of a Wild Beast: there have been zoa [Gk, living creatures], but there has been no tharion [Gk. wild beast], nor is there any further reference to one until we reach Rev. 13:1.  Yet the article assumes that this Wild Beast which comes up from the Abyss is a figure already familiar to the reader.  Perhaps it points back to Dan. 7:3.”[13]  

Notice Swete states that the article assumes the figure is already familiar to the reader and offers that John may thus have been referring back to the book of Daniel in his use of it.  This is, of course, all that we have said: As used in Rev. 20:1-7 the article is referential, its absence is introductory.  Where there is no article (“a thousand years”) we are being introduced to a new subject, where the article is present (“the thousand years”) it refers back to its original appearance.  Since Rev. 20:4 begins a new vision and has no article (“And I saw….and they lived and reigned a thousand years”) we are justified in concluding that a second thousand year period is being introduced.

Let me state in closing this part that grammar can be technical and there are always rules and exceptions to argue about.  We do not rely upon the presence/absence of the article for our conclusion that two millennia are contemplated by the text.  This is not the only thing pointing to two millennia, but it is the simplest and most direct route, by-passing interpretation of the symbology.  But the symbology of the passage justifies the two millennia approach too.  As already noted, there are two “resurrections” at two different times: one when the dragon is loosed, according to Frost and King, in A.D. 66, the other in A.D. 70 when the saints inherit heaven.  How can there be only one “thousand years” if the thousand-year binding of the dragon ends sooner than the thousand-year reign of the saints?  Thus, whether we arrive there by the presence/absence of the article or by interpretation of the symbols really makes no difference. Either way two one thousand year periods emerge from the text.

King’s Vicarious Baptism

Frost states “I do not believe that King offered a Mormon like ‘vicarious’ salvation of the firstfruits, but only a representative view. It was through the body of Christ, the Church, that the ‘rest of the dead’ came in (I Cor 15.35).”  I would rather not believe that King believes in a Mormon-like “vicarious salvation,” but he has been teaching it for over thirty years.  Hence, it is not as if he has not had adequate time to clarify his position.  In 1971, King wrote: 

“The suffering of the first-fruits (New Testament saints) in overcoming that present world (age) led, not only to their own perfection, but also to the perfection of all true Israel. The resurrection of the first-fruits resulted in the resurrection of the Old Testament saints.  It was in view of this truth that Paul asked, ‘Else what shall they do that are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all?  Why are they then baptized for the dead?” (I Cor. 15:29).  Paul’s argument here concerning the resurrection of the dead is based on the law of the “first-fruits.”  If there is no resurrection of the dead, then there can be no harvest of Old Testament saints.  If there is no harvest, why should there be an offering of the first-fruits?  Why should gospel saints be baptized, suffer, strive to bring the faith to perfection, if such sacrificial labor does not result in the establishment of a system through which both, the first-fruits, and the harvest are accepted of God?...as ‘first-fruits’ they possessed the responsibility of reaching perfection and gaining God’s acceptance in order to open the way for the acceptance of the entire harvest of saints.”[14]

Notice that King states that the Old Testament saints are made acceptable to God through the baptism, labor and suffering of the gospel saints.  Thus, it is only through the gospel saints that the Old Testament dead could find acceptance with God!  Sixteen years later, King was still teaching the same thing:  “Were it not for the response of the baptized remnant or firstfruit Jews to the power of God through Christ, Israel would have been left to perish.”[15]  Left to perish!  The dead saints of yesteryear would have perished without the baptismal response of the gospel saints.  This is not the Christianity I read of in the Bible.  King even defines his terms for the reader: 

“What then is meant by baptism for the dead?  First, we believe that there is no reason to seek an understanding of baptism except in its ordinary Christian meaning and practice; i.e. immersion in water for the remission of sins through incorporation into Christ (Rom. 6:1-6).  Second, neither is it necessary to give ‘for’ (hyper) a meaning other than ‘on behalf of,” as many attempt to do in opposing vicarious baptism….Third, it is apparent that baptism for the dead not only is sanctioned by Paul, and familiar to the Corinthians, but it is connected intimately with the resurrection of Christ, otherwise v. 29 would be useless verbiage in Paul’s resurrection motif.”[16]  Hear him once again:

“There is to be seen here a solidarity of believers and the creation [the Old Testament saints], to the degree that the completed redemption of believers who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, is also the redemption of the creation…This is clearly a case of vicarious or representative redemption.  The creation is brought to redemption by the power and operation of God through the imparted Spirit in the Christ-centered lives of believers.  To whatever extent the baptism of believers was involved in their being brought to consummated redemption and manifestation in glory, it represented a baptism for (in behalf of) the creation.  From this there is no escape.  The hope of creation was its deliverance into that which was coming to completion and manifestation through the firstfruits.”[17]

Notice that the hope of the creation (Old Testament saints) was deliverance through the firstfruits.  King calls this a case of “vicarious redemption” and states “from this there is no escape.”  You see, they can’t get to Christ directly; they must go through the firstfruits!  Of course, King is not saying the gospel saints were going down lists of Old Testament genealogies, plucking them from the flames by being baptized for them one by one.  But he is saying that the response of the “firstfruit” Jews to the gospel was the “sine qua non” (without-which-not) the Old Testament saints could not be saved.  It is King’s stated position that “Were it not for the response of the baptized remnant or firstfruit Jews, Israel would have been left to perish.” But we deny this altogether.  The Old Testament saints would have been saved if a single individual never obeyed the gospel.  The blood of Christ’s cross flowed back to the Old Testament saints directly, not through the firstfruit Jews.  King’s doctrine of vicarious redemption is condemned as heterodox.  Because of its intimate connection with his view of the millennial reign of the saints (the firstfruits) and the resurrection of the “rest of the dead” (according to King, the Old Testament saints), his whole scheme of the millennium must be rejected as a thing polluted by profane hand of man. 

(Reader take note:  King’s corporate view of the resurrection is inexorably bound up in his false doctrine of the firstfruits and a vicarious redemption of the Old Testament saints, for, in Frost’s words, “It was through the body of Christ, the Church, that the ‘rest of the dead’ came in.”  In other words, New Testament saints were not grafted on to the new root of Christ, but the old tree of national Israel. Since, in King’s view, the New Testament saints, not Christ, are the firstfruit that sanctifies the whole harvest, apart from the resurrection of the corporate body of the church, the Old Testament saints would have been “left behind.”  (“Were it not for the response of the baptized remnant or firstfruit Jews, Israel would have been left to perish.”)  Thus, one cannot hold to King’s view of the corporate body resurrection without also accepting a vicarious redemption of the Old Testament dead.  A dangerous belief we hope to dispel in a subsequent article.)

Conclusion

Frost and King both agree that there are two millennia in Revelation, whether they realize it or not.  By their own interpretation the dragon is loosed at a time earlier than the resurrection of the saints.  Hence, there cannot be a common millennium between them.  King expressly states there are “two one thousand year terms.”  Frost twice concedes that the article is referential.  The new vision in Rev. 20:4, coupled with the absence of the article, therefore clearly points to a new subject, viz., another thousand years.  It does violence to Rev. 20:4-6 to point to the first resurrection and say, “See, here is baptismal regeneration with Christ.” The context is the persecution under Nero and the Jews, not conversion.  Attempts to shift the emphasis from the blessed state of the martyrs in Paradise to regeneration are unavailing.  Finally, the scriptures never speak of an interim, thousand year reign of Christ.  Hence, Frost and King leave the sacred page when they speak of one.  Discerning students of the Bible will adopt another approach to the Millennia of Revelation twenty. 

Notes: 

[1]   As examples of the fact Sam has not read my book and is not really qualified to comment upon it, I point out the following places where he misrepresents my position to the reader.  For example, I do not hold that the battle of Gog and Magog “is the great end-time battle centered within the historical occurrence of the Jewish War.”  To the contrary, I hold that Gog and Magog was the persecution under Nero and the Jews.  True, the persecution by Nero and the Jews was concluded in favor of Christ and the church by Nero’s death, the Roman civil wars, and the destruction of Jerusalem (the “fire that fell from heaven,” Rev. 20:9), but that is not the same as saying Gog and Magog centered in the Jewish war. 

Another example is Sam’s view that the beast coming up out of the abyss refers to the destruction of Jerusalem (“The point is clear, exegetically: John is writing in the time when the beast/dragon is not because he is bound, but he was about to come up out of the abyss and destroy the woman, the Great City, the Beloved City, the Holy City (11.2), or Jerusalem…The point is, Re 11 and 20.7-10 are picturing the same events: the Holy, Beloved City will be destroyed by the beast/dragon that ‘is about to come out of the abyss.’”)   First, I do not agree that reference to the “beloved city” in Rev. 20:9 refers to apostate Jerusalem; it is my position that this is a reference to the church and that “surrounding the camp of the saints” refers to the persecution under Nero and the Jews.  Furthermore, the beast is the persecutor of Christians; it does not come up out of the abyss to destroy Jerusalem, but to renew persecution of the church.  It is true that in the end God used the Roman power to destroy the Jews, but that is not what is depicted by Revelation thirteen or “surrounding the camp of the saints.” 

Another example of why Sam should have read my book before venturing to represent my views is his claim that I somehow set up the martyrs in Rev. 20:3-6 as the object of some sort of special treatment (“But, to single out martyrs as if receiving any more special treatment from God from anyone who had faith in Jesus, but was not martyred is the stuff of the second century martyr cults, not biblical theology. It appears that Simmons is doing just that.”)  In my book (indeed, in an article posted for several years on my web site) I am careful to note “However, that these, or any martyrs, were participants in a special resurrection is not the teaching of the text; a common destiny awaited all the righteous dead; there was no special resurrection for martyrs.” (The Consummation of the Ages, p. 461)  Furthermore, it is my position that all the righteous from Abel to the general resurrection were partakers of the “first resurrection” (which I hold to symbolize the Hadean realm of Paradise), not just martyrs.  (Ibid, p. 372, 377)

[2]   Max R. King, The Cross and the Parousia of Christ (Warren, OH, 1987), p. 404, 405.

[3]   It is interesting that Sam, who is from a Reformed background, is apparently become a proponent of baptismal regeneration.  Although eschewed by most Calvinists today, it is the position historically taken by Calvin.  "Thus John first, and the Apostles afterward, baptized with the baptism of repentance, intending regeneration and, by remission of sins, absolution."  (Calvin, Institutes, Vol. 2, p. 481; emphasis added.)  "I know the common opinion is that remission of sins, which at our first regeneration we receive by baptism alone, is afterward obtained by repentance and the benefit of the keys.  But the advocates of this opinion have fallen into an error for the want of considering that the power of the keys of which they speak, is so dependent on baptism that it can not by any means be separated from it."  (Calvin, Institutes, Vol. 2, p. 479; emphasis added.)

[4]   The Consummation of the Ages, pp. 368, 377 fn; 391-394.

[5]   We say “assuming they are in Rev. 20:4 at all,” because there are other possibilities than the living saints.  For example, it is possible they are others who are in  Paradise, but which have not suffered martyrdom.

[6]   Stephen - Acts 7:59; James the brother of Christ - Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, XX, ix, 1.

[7]  Nero’s name in Hebrew characters adds up to six hundred, three score and six. 

[8]   Ibid, 248.

[9]   Ibid, 410.

[10]   Ibid, p. 225.

[11]  Max R. King, The Spirit of Prophecy, p. 353; Max R. King, The Cross and the Parousia of Christ, p. 246

[12]   Ibid, p. 347.

[13]  Henrey Barclay Swete, The Apocalypse of St. John (Macmillan and Co. LTD, 1906), p. 134.

[14]   Max R. King, The Spirit of Prophecy, pp. 57, 58.

[15] Max R. King, The Cross and the Parousia of Christ, p. 516.

[16]   Ibid, p. 514, 515; emphasis in original.

[17]   Ibid, p. 519; emphasis in original. Cf. Max R. King, The Spirit of Prophecy, pp. 57, 58.

Top of page


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

SUBSCRIBE

 

All rights reserved.