Category Archives: Amillennialism
This post is per my wife’s request. We both grew up as your typical Conservative Baptist, dispensational, premillennial, pretribulational Christians. I have already shared my “testimony” out of the dispensational/premil part of that, more than once; so, we won’t revisit that now. I persuaded my wife, about ten years ago, to the amillennial position; and it has stuck. We are both committed to that position, but I have done more work on thinking a way out of the dispy past. And so, my wife would like an eschatological ‘timeline’ per an amil understanding (a very dispy way to think 😉). So, for the remainder of this post that’s what I will attempt to do.
The amillennial timeline is quite straightforward, actually. In fact, this is one of its compelling features; i.e. I think it fits well with the spirit of what we find in Peter’s second epistle when he writes:
10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. –II Peter 3:10-13
Peter’s timeline seems to suggest that the next event we should expect biblically-eschatologically is the second coming of Christ, at which time ‘all things will be dissolved,’ and the new heavens and earth will be realized. If we are looking for the simplest explanation (Occam’s Razor) about a timeline of such things, Peter’s seems to be the most compelling. In the interim, between the first and second advents of Christ, the amillennialist maintains that what Revelation 20 refers to—the “1000 years”—is figurative for that in-between time. There is an exegetical case for that, but we won’t attempt to make that here. Suffice it to say, what Revelation does refer to, as Richard Bauckham so persuasively argues, is the book itself should actually be understood as a circuit letter (epistle) to the seven churches. If so, it makes sense to think that all of its referents, while prophetic, have a local context in mind per the original reader’s milieu. Bauckham, in sum, shows how almost all of the prophecies in Revelation (barring chapters 19—22) make the most sense when in reference to the Neronic Roman Empire, and all of its attendant characteristics. While those prophecies have a nearer to the original audience fulfillment, what remains prophetic for us, is that the power of the Beast, and the AntiChrist, are typified by every other subsequent world empires that feature the same sort of attributes that we find shaping the Graeco-Roman empire. So, a power that seeks to enrich itself, at all costs, by military might, built upon the backs of slave labor and its necessary means: human trafficking.
Having noted the above, I still think there can be multiple referents in mind in regard to the book of Revelation. So, while there were literal fulfillments nearer to the original audience, those prophecies could also have a yet future fulfillment. In other words, I am not against the idea that a literal figure known as the AntiChrist (although not by a flashing sign hanging around his neck) could emerge and bring in world-peace, and a Utopian like actualization that meets all of the aspirations that people have to live a healthy and wealthy life. In fact, it seems almost likely that something like that could be upon the globe even now; but who knows, at the moment. I just know that at the first coming of Christ most people missed it. There was no perfectly charted timeline, but there were ‘signs’ that those with eyes to see and ears to hear could identify in relationship to the Messiah’s first coming; the New Testament identifies the few who had that type of insight.
As far as the so-called Great Tribulation (cf. Mt 24) I think, more than likely, we have been in that period ever since Christ ascended (see Keener’s thoughts below). I do believe, along with other amillennialists, that parts of what Jesus refers to in the Olivet Discourse were fulfilled at the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. That said, I don’t necessarily take the so-called partial-preterist position, per se. Just that the Great Tribulation that the ‘world had never seen’ was fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. That said, I am still open to even this having a yet future fulfillment. In other words, just as I noted in regard to the book of Revelation, and its referents, I think it is possible that we could have a climaxing Great Tribulation just prior to the second coming of Jesus Christ. This time period, I would take it, won’t have a flashing sign saying: this is it! Just like the AntiChrist (whether that be a single messenger, or a federation of leaders with a figurehead who has the prominent speaking position), he or they won’t have a blinky light overhead; this will all be just as organic as the first coming of Christ. That said, as the Apostle Paul notes in I Thessalonians 5:
But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. –I Thessalonians 5:1-6
Verse 4 drives home the point that, like at the first coming, those with eyes to see and ears to hear (or in the light) shouldn’t be surprised at the coming of Christ. In other words, the Apostle Paul believes that there will be certain characteristics present that the Christian ought to be able to identify; to the point that we should be able to have a general knowledge about the timing of Christ’s second coming. We see Paul, in context, refer to the ‘labor pains’ analogy that Jesus Himself refers to in His teaching on the same topic. The defining feature that Paul tells the Christian to look for is a world that is characterized by the sensation of ‘peace and safety.’ This does seem to correlate to the idea that the AntiChrist, or in the Thessalonian context, the ‘Man of Lawlessness,’ will usher in a time of pseudo-peace wherein the globe believes something magnificent and even miraculous has happened.
Getting back to the Great Tribulation category, let me refer us to Craig Keener’s helpful index for attempting to think about how the Great Tribulation, and all the events referred to in Matthew 24 might play out. You’ll notice that the way I described the Tribulation above fits into the sweep of what Keener describes. And out of the options that Keener describes, I am in full agreement with his personal take:
In Matthew, the tribulation seems to begin with the sanctuary’s destruction in A.D. 66 and concludes with Jesus’ return (24:29). If, as I think most likely, Matthew writes some years after 70, this allows several interpretive options: in Matthew 24 Jesus (1) skips from this tribulation to the next eschatologically significant event, his return (Fuller 1966; cf. Lk. 21:24; especially compare Mt 24:21, “nor ever shall,” with Dan 12:1; cf. Jos. War pref. 1); (2) regards the whole interim between the Temple’s demise and his return as an extended tribulation period (“immediately” — 24:29; e.g., Carson 1984b: 507); (3) prophetically blends the tribulation of 66-70 with the final one, which it prefigures (see Bock 1994: 332-33); (4) begins the tribulation in 66 but postpones the rest of it until the end time; (5) intends his “return” in 24:29-31 symbollically for the fall of Jerusalem.
I currently favor (1) or (2) with elements of (3). (Against the view of a “spiritual” coming are the many emphatic statements about a personal, visible coming in the context — 24:27; Gundry 1982: 491). The third option may in fact deserve more attention than my current inclination has given it: certainly the prophetic perspective naturally viewed nearer historical events as precursors of the final events. Early Jewish texts also telescope the generations of history with the final generation (Jub. 23:11-32). As in Mark, the tribulation of 66-70 remains somehow connected with the future parousia (Hare 1967: 179), if only as a final prerequisite. Further, the context may suggest that Jesus employs his description eschatologically, as in some Jewish end-time texts; in this case, the disasters of 66-73 could not have exhausted the point of his words (cf. Harrington 1982: 96). In any case, the view (circulated mainly in current popular circles) that Matthew 24 addresses only a tribulation that even readers after 70 assumed to be wholly future is not tenable; Matthew understands that “all these things” (probably referring to the question about the temple’s demise — 24:2; Mk 13:4) will happen within a generation (Mt 24:34), language throughout Jesus’ teachings in Matthew refers to the generation then living (e.g., 11:16; 12:39, 45; 16:4; 23:36; cf. 27:25). Further, Luke dispenses with much of the symbolism and lays the emphasis almost entirely on the Roman conquest of Jerusalem, in which Judean slaves were carried among the nations. For Luke, the “abomination” that brings about desolation becomes simply the Roman armies surrounding Jerusalem, promising desolation (Lk 21:20; A. B. Bruce 1979: 292; Cole 1961: 202).
Let me attempt a timeline based on all that I have hashed out above: I believe the next event the Christian should be ready for is the second coming of Jesus Christ. I think that Great Tribulation has been upon the world ever since the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD; just ask most of the third and developing worlds about that. But I also believe that the Tribulation has been intensifying, like ‘labor pains,’ and at the very end there will be a climaxing intensification of that which will be the final iteration of the Great Tribulation Jesus referred to so long ago on the Temple Mount. In the midst of this there will be an emerging federation (the Beast), potentially with a Messianic-like figurehead, who, with the power of overwhelming military might, and the technological enrichment that entails, among other “riches,” will provide a peace the world has longed for since Adam and Eve’s fall in the Garden. In the midst of this ‘false’ sense of peace, Jesus will return. This federation, like the original “Babel”-lonyians, would like to think that they have finally reached the heavens and become God Himself. They will be deluded to believe (cf. Rev 20:7-10) the “battle” has finally been won, but just in that moment, Jesus will return, and destroy all those with the ‘mark of the Beast’ (i.e. people without the ‘mark of the Lamb’) by the Sword of His mouth (cf. Rev. 19). At this moment, the Great White Throne judgment will occur; the new heavens and earth will come into full consummation; and we will be with Christ forevermore.
Personally, I think it is possible that what the world is currently experiencing, with all of the strange chaos and tumult, could be the time I just described. But we won’t know that, not really, till after the fact. That said, I think with the Apostle Paul, that we ought to imagine, as sons and daughters of the Light, that we might have the capacity to sense just when the second coming of Christ is upon us; such that that day does NOT take us as a ‘thief.’ If a global peace somehow comes out of the current global chaos we are experiencing; if a global federation, and maybe a particularly charismatic figurehead rises up out of that; I think it highly likely that Jesus’ second coming is just upon us at that point. Then again, it just might happen this very moment. We ought to WATCH!
 Craig S. Keener, A Commentary On The Gospel Of Matthew, 577-78.
 “7 Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. 9 They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. 10 The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
 I take the ‘Mark of the Beast’ to be in reference to those who were born in their sin, born into the kingdom of darkness, and never freely chose to take the ‘Mark of the Lamb’ (i.e. they never repented and came to Christ, being sealed with the Holy Spirit).
In my view this COVID – 19 is cover for something else. I certainly believe it is a real virus, but nowhere close to as deadly as the Imperial College model predicted; indeed, not even close to any numbers that were predicted. And now, the CDC has doctors faking the cause of death for many people out there. Most deaths, if not all, involve some other more prominent comorbidity, or even other unrelated causes of death, like accidents. I believe this is another attempt to thwart the Donald by the globalists, just like the Russia hoax, and impeachment attempt. But in this instance, I think Trump (or Q+), and his cohort are using it to their advantage; to ‘drain the global and domestic swamp,’ as it were. I have been skeptical of so-called Q, but I just watched something that I think has lots of credibility, and lays things out in a way that makes Q’s existence to seem undeniable. Then you couple that with the global shutdown, and it all seems that much more believable.
After watching a mini-series of videos on Q (you can watch here) my mind was blown. It isn’t that the researcher necessarily introduced me to anything greater than I had tacit knowledge of. But what she did is bring things together in such a way that many dots were connected for me. My mind was blown, not so much by Q’s plan to defeat what they call the “cabal,” but instead my mind was shaken by what this researcher believes the answer is after the cabal is dismantled (which is ostensibly happening now under cover of COVID – 19). This researcher believes that Q will usher in a new world order of peace and safety, and that a mystery person will be the one to usher this “re-set” world into being. This researcher, apparently, is unaware of what Christian eschatological teaching entails. But any Christian worth their eschatological salt will know that what she is describing is exactly what many Christians have been predicting (based on biblical prophecy) for years. This researcher made her videos, it appears, in 2019. My guess, is that she would believe that we are currently right in the middle of Q’s operation to undo the centuries old cabal and underbelly of evil that has been present in our “authority-centers,” the world over, for along time. She spends most of her time exposing just how evil this cabal is; and who the current players are (who we all know because of their public status; well the top players are not in the public eye, but their minions are). If what she has uncovered is true, the evil that is present is so much greater than people want to admit, that they’d do well to go back to their Bibles and read about Sodom and Gomorrah, and Moloch worship.
I believe we are very close to the bodily return of Jesus Christ. I believe that we very well could be at the very beginning of what has come to be called The Great Tribulation. I’m not totally sure what to think about that, per se, since I’ve identified myself as an amillennialist for the last decade. My amil perspective can still handle all of this, and indeed incorporate, from other systems, thinking about the Tribulation period. It isn’t that I have ever rejected the idea of their being a Tribulation period, it is just that I had become more reticent about maintaining that it would be as clear as some “chart-makers” from the past would have wanted us to believe. If what Q is doing is real; if Q is a real entity of people at the highest level of the US government; then it is starting to seem clear to me that the anti-Christ might very well be among us, and just around the corner from us (like just days and months away). It is risky for me to write these sorts of things (which is why I’m posting it on this defunct blog of mine that nobody reads, cause it has been inactive for so long) because I am more of an “academic” Christian. Most of the academics I know would think that what I am writing here, about Q, and even end times stuff in general, is rubbish and for tin-hat wearing fools. But I’ve never been able to escape the contrast that the Gospels make over and over again. The Gospels make clear that the audience who were open to hearing Jesus, were not the “academics” or theologians of His day (on earth), but it was the common people. The Gospels say, “that the common people heard Him gladly.” Therefore, I remain open to theories like we see being propounded by Q et al. I haven’t got used to or conditioned by the strangeness of what is happening to society as a result of coronavirus. It is totally shocking to my system. I cannot believe how quickly people have submitted to the political leaders and talking heads on the media. It only illustrates how ripe for the picking the masses are for the anti-Christ. The Apostle Paul writes the following, and in the context of the second coming of Jesus Christ:
But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. 11 Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. –I Thessalonians 5:1-11
The Q researcher I’ve been referring to in this post believes that Q will be ushering in a brand-new world where world peace is the hallmark. We hear and experience just the opposite right now. If the “Q plan” works, and unfolds according to plan, which it does appear is happening, this time of world peace, and its messenger, are just months away. As Paul notes, this is what will be characteristic of the world’s order and self-perception, at the very time that Jesus will ultimately come again. As Paul also says about the Christians: we shouldn’t be deceived by this world order of peace and safety; that we are sons and daughters of the light. As such, we need to be awake about the realities we are living through, not asleep.
Unfortunately, as I see it, many (most!) Christians seem unaware and aren’t watching whatsoever for the coming of Christ (cf. Mark 13:36-37: “lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”). Jesus said, that at this time the ‘love of many would grow cold,’ in reference to His purported followers. Elsewhere, Jesus also questions, ‘will I really find faith on the earth,’ at my coming? There is a lot of talk about being “woke” these days. Of course, those who ascribe to that ideology are so asleep they don’t realize their wokeness is only a reality in their dream-state. To be genuinely awake means that the Christian takes Jesus at His very simple word; remember, He is the Shepherd, and He speaks to the ‘sheep.’ Another irony that I think is occurring, is that those in the Church most alert to things surrounding the second coming of Christ, might well be the most deceived at first. I am referring to ‘Left Behind’ or Pre-Tribulational people (a view I held most of my life). They believe, without any exegetical warrant, that us Christians will be removed from the earth in a secret rapture just prior to the Tribulation. These folks are going to be confused quite a bit at first. They won’t realize or be able to identify that what they are parley to is in fact the Great Tribulation. I think most of them will quickly repent of their pre-trib viewpoint when they come to realize that this new world leader is in fact the anti-Christ. But it is going to be really shocking for them to realize just how wrong they were. The Thessalonians passage above, just at a prima facie level, indicates that we will in fact be here during the Tribulation period. That we shouldn’t be duped as if overtaken by a thief in the night. Just the opposite! As sons and daughters of the Light, we ought to be the most aware about the goings on at the coming of Christ. We ought to be able to identify the man of sin, immediately. Maranatha
PS. I’m open to being completely off about Q. But there are too many things that become really hard to deny when you actually look into them. It does require that you be willing to be ridiculed as a conspiracy theorist. But it is harder and harder to deny, I think, that we live in a very strange time that requires greater explanatory power than the mainstream narratives provide us with. So, I am actively in search of a theory, rather than simply sitting back passively, that will help explain the seemingly crazy actions world governments are engaging in as their response to a virus that only rises to a level that normally would give us “bad flu season” numbers.
How Did Our Protestant Forebears in the 16th and 17th Centuries Think of ‘The Last Day’ and End Times?
I thought it might be interesting for anyone who might come across this post to see how the Protestant Reformed orthodox Christians of the 16th and 17th centuries thought of ‘end times.’ I came across an interesting sketch of that provided by Richard Muller as I continue to work through his Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms: Drawn Principally from Protestant Scholastic Theology. The ‘eschatological sketch’ comes as Muller is providing a definition for the Latin term dies novissimus. He writes:
dies novissimus: the last day; viz., the inauguration of the heavenly kingdom of God consisting in the second visible coming of Christ (adventus Christi, q.v.), and the ordained ends of the elect in eternal blessedness (beatitude aeterna) and of the reprobate in eternal damnation (see damnatio). The scholastics also note the signa diei novissimi or signa temporis, signs of the last day or signs of the time. Although they decry the attempts of the crass or gross chiliasts (see chiliasmus) to predict the exact date of the end by means of the signs of the last days revealed in Scripture, the orthodox do allow the existence of the signs and permit their careful use for admonition, edification, and hope of the faithful. They therefore classify the signs into categories of signa remota, or remote signs; signa propinqua, near signs; signa propinquiora, nearer signs; and signa proxima, proximate signs. The signa remota are often identified as the events connected with the opening of the first six of the seven seals (Rev. 6:1–17): wars and conflict, famine and pestilence, persecution and earthquakes. The signa propinqua mark more clearly the approach of the end; chief among them are the great apostasy and the accompanying increase of worldliness and unbelief. These are followed by the signa propinquiora, which include the increased the lawlessness and indifference to religion resulting from the great apostasy, great political disturbances and the beginnings of the gathering together of Israel. The signa proxima, finally, include the completion of the mission to the Gentiles, the further increase of political disruption accompanying the manifestation of the “beast” of Revelation 13 and 17, the so-called “abomination of desolation” and the great tribulation that lead to the full development of the power of the Antichrist (antichristus, q.v.), and the last battle, Armageddon. These signa proxima immediately precede the adventus Christi and the dies novissimus.
This was all couched within an amillennial framework, and articulated with that type of Augustinian viewpoint in mind. It is interesting to think about the fact that there was no such thing as pre-tribulational, premillennial, dispensational thinking on the scene at this point; that wouldn’t come on the radar until the 19th century through John Nelson Darby.
What I find more interesting, and this at the popular/pastoral level, there are some out there, especially among the ranks of particular Calvary Chapel pastors (like Jack Hibbs et al.) who straight out call the amillennial framework I just presented through Muller’s definition, heresy; even worse (according to Paul Wilkinson), blasphemy. Again, they maintain the synonymy between ‘replacement theology’ and ‘amillennialism proper.’ But we don’t see that when we actually dig into the history of amillennial thought; even here in Muller’s brief sketch we see him refer to national Israel’s re-gathering. We don’t see any sort of ‘replacement’ thought in the Protestant Reformed orthodox’s amillennialism, we simply see a perspective that stands at odds with the latterly developed system of interpretation known as Dispensationalism.
I think it behooves people making charges, particularly as they make those in and among church people who don’t have access to the critical material (at least not consciously in most cases), to be much more careful; to actually do your homework (Paul Wilkinson, Jack Hibbs, David Hocking, et al.) when it comes to this issue. Were there “amillennialists” in the history who were proponents of replacement theology (i.e. the idea that the church replaced the nation of Israel as God’s covenant people)? Yes. But, again, it is a sweeping generalization to sweep all amillenialists into that approach. Be careful.
 Richard A. Muller, Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms: Drawn Principally from Protestant Scholastic Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1985), 92.
I have just recently watched a couple of videos/interviews done by Pastor Jack Hibbs with Paul Wilkinson (here and here). Paul Wilkinson has his PhD from the University of Manchester in the UK; in fact he is an Associate Pastor of a church in the UK, where Christian Zionism is a central part of the teaching, apparently. His PhD, based upon what he has communicated in his interviews, is on what he calls Christian Palestinianism. What he is referring to is the impact that he believes, what he calls, ‘replacement theology,’ has had upon many Western evangelical and Reformed churches. The result being, for Wilkinson’s view, these churches have placed the Palestinians into the historic role of the Jews—the oppressed and victimized—and the Jews into the place of the victimizer. His main focus is on the mainline denominations involved in the divestment movement, a move to not have any dealings with any Israeli businesses, with the hope of engaging in a type of economic terrorism on what these churches consider Israel to be; an apartheid state.
But the primary premise of Wilkinson’s critique is a theological hermeneutical one. He lays all of the blame for this at the feet of the Covenantal amillennial approach. He asserts that this interpretive lens requires that the adherents of this view believe that the church has replaced Israel; as such, and if this is so, he maintains that as a result of this belief it makes it easy to continue to elevate Israel as the enemy of Christ, and all those who fit into the oppressed category in the world. One might discern that Wilkinson sees replacement theology as a framework wherein ‘Israel’ becomes a symbol for what it means to be oppressed rather than an actual people who have been and are being oppressed and persecuted by the world.
I agree with Wilkinson, that any move to see Israel as an apartheid state, and consequently attempt to ‘divest’ from any engagement with the nation of Israel as a result of this is folly. What I don’t agree with Wilkinson on is that so called ‘replacement theology’ is the necessary culprit. In fact I would contend that most mainline churches don’t elevate scripture to this sort of authoritative level when it comes to constructing their ethical framework. In other words, so called ‘replacement theology’ is not even on the radar of most mainline thinkers; they have other theopolitical theories afloat in their universe, something more along the lines of a neo-Marxism or Democratic Socialism.
And the churches who are amillennial in approach (which Wilkinson maintains are churches that promote replacement theology) are typically quite evangelical and theologically conservative in every way. It’s just that they have found a hermeneutical framework—usually covenantal—that leads them to the eschatological belief that the church historical has held for millennia. This in itself does not speak to the veracity of the amillennial interpretive lens, but it does, at minimum suggest, or it should, that there is a greater more careful sobriety to this teaching than Wilkinson wants it to have. He can’t lay all the evils of the nations towards Israel at the feet of the amillennial interpretation; as if it is the church and Christendom against the nation of Israel. Indeed, historically, many, if not most amillennialists have not held to what Wilkinson et al. claim. Amillennialists are not ‘replacement theologians,’ this is a pejorative caricature, and sweeping generalization that does not withstand historical nor theological scrutiny.
Personally, I have moved back and forth between the amillennial and historic premillennial position over the last nine years (prior to that I was a card holding dispensationalist, of one stripe or another). At the moment I think the amil position makes the most sense. But I have never held to a ‘replacement theology’ in the midst of these views, nor is it incumbent upon me to do so. I do see Jesus as the reality of Israel, and all of scripture about Jesus, not Israel per se. But this is not so radical, at least not any more radical than what Jesus believed,
39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, – John 5:39
Jesus maintained that the Hebrew Bible (indeed the only scriptures Israel had at that point) wasn’t intended to terminate in the nation of Israel, but instead it was intended to point to God’s terminus and telos for all of creation in his dearly beloved Son. This is why I see Jesus as ‘Israel,’ indeed a national Jew, but the One for the many in fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant. He went to the Jews first, and then the Gentiles; as did the Apostle Paul. The basis of the New Covenant, and what we have as the Apostolic Depositum in the New Testament writings, is indeed a very Jewish ground; a ground not superseded by the church, but a ground nonetheless that was and is and always will be about Jesus, the man from Nazareth. Within this reality, the reality of expansion, the Jew and the Gentile have become one new human (Eph. 2:1-12) in the new creation of God in Christ. Within this reality the promises made to the fathers (Rom. 11:29) indeed are irrevocable, and so it will be. But this does not mean that there are two distinct people of God, as Wilkinson’s view maintains (classic Dispensationalism); at least not according to the Apostle Paul, and the implications of the Abrahamic Covenant itself. What it does entail is that, again, Israel’s purpose was always one; to mediate God’s salvation to the nations. As such, there are certain promises made to the nation of Israel that indeed have been and will be fulfilled; it’s just that those promises are no longer seen as exclusive to the nation of Israel, but instead as exclusive to the Son of Israel, Jesus Christ. As such, all those who are participants in his life, the Jew from Nazareth, will also be partakers, along with the ‘fathers’, of the promises made originally to Abraham. I think though that it’s important to note: in Romans 4, the Apostle Paul made it very clear, as part of his argument, that the promises made to Abraham were prior to the circumcision; in other words, the promises themselves were not exclusive to the nation of Israel, but instead to the ‘seed’ (Gen. 3:15; 49:10) that the nation of Israel would mediate to and for the nations.
I think Paul Wilkinson, Jack Hibbs, and all the others who claim that ‘replacement theology’ is the vice they maintain that it is, should reconsider. For one thing replacement theology is almost a straw man these days; for another it involves a serious sweeping generalization that does not withstand critical scrutiny. Unfortunately it is these types of representations that continue to be made in large swaths of American evangelicalism (and British, to a lesser degree). I do agree that we ought to be more sensitive to the Jewish background and reality of the Christian faith, but we ought to allow that to be tempered by the fact that the ‘flesh’ itself is not the end, instead the God-man, Jesus Christ is. We cannot think of Jesus as non-Jewish, but in that, we ought also not think that his Jewishness is the terminus of God’s program; instead what is the terminus is the salvation that God has brought, in his Son, to all the nations.
Addendum: I will write a follow up post to this one where I make a distinction that Wilkinson, Hibbs, et al. do not make. Indeed, Wilkinson engages not only in the fallacy known as ‘sweeping generalization,’ but he also engages in the fallacy known as ‘reductionism’ and ‘caricature.’ He equivocates on the term ‘replacement theology’ and presumes, by assertion, that replacement theology and amillennialism are the same things; but they are aren’t. More importantly, and this is the distinction I’ll make in a later forthcoming post, Wilkinson fails to identify that most amillennialists, at least contemporary ones, are not supersessionists, and thus definitionally cannot be ‘replacement theologians’ who claim that the church has replaced or superseded the nation of Israel in God’s economy; this is utter rubbish and non-sense.
Here is something I wrote a few years ago, picked up by monergism.com:
The Amillennialist affirms that the people of Israel have not been cast off or replaced, but rather, that the Gentiles have now been included among the Jews in God’s Covenantal promises. In other words, not replacement but expansion. God’s redemptive plan, as first promised to Abraham, was that “all nations” would be blessed through him. Israel is, and always has been, saved the same as any other nation: by the promises to the seed, Christ. Amillennialists, do not believe in a literal 1000 year reign of Christ on earth after His second coming. Rather, they affirm that when Christ returns, the resurrection of both the righteous and wicked will take place simultaneously (see John 5), followed by judgment and and the eternal state where heaven and earth merge and Christ reigns forever.
Strong points of Amillennialism
* It is highly Christocentric: it makes Christ the center of all the biblical covenants (even the “Land” covenant or Siniatic)
* It notes the universal scope of the Abrahamic Covenant (as key) to interpreting the rest of the biblical covenants
* It sees salvation history oriented to a person (Christ), instead of a people (the nation of Israel)
* It emphasizes continuity between the “people of God” (Israel and the Church are one in Christ Eph. 2:11ff)
* It provides an ethic that is rooted in creation, and “re-creation” (continuity between God’s redemptive work now, carried over into the eternal state then)
* It emphasizes a trinitarian view of God as it elevates the “person”, Christ Jesus, the second person of the trinity as the point and mediator of all history
* It flows from a hermeneutic that takes seriously the literary character of the Scriptures (esp. the book of Revelation)
Many classic Dispensationalists say that amillennialists hold to what they call “replacement theology;” meaning that, as they say, amillers believe that the Church has replaced the promises made to Israel. In fact most amillers do not believe this. The ultimate reality is that Jesus fulfilled, as the Jew, “The Seed” the promises made to Abraham and Israel. So He is Israel, but of course not without the Nation. Dispies miss this all too frequently. Dispies, in many ways, function like the Jewish zealots of old did; they are looking for a political kingdom set up on earth, and a political Messiah. God’s intention has never been to be political.