In recent weeks I had a preview of what it would be like to deal with those who adhere to the “hyperpreterist” heresy – the idea that the resurrection of all men occurred in 70 AD along with the parousia. In due time I expect to compose a Building Blocks book on eschatology, and a fuller treatment of this heresy will be part of the package. But for now, here is a look at some of the ideas espoused by hyperpreterists. (I will not be naming the sources of these arguments, as they are persons who are desirous of just that sort of attention.) I will begin by noting the orthodox view in each section.
Orthodox: We are currently in the millennium, in which the “thousand” years represent a very long time of unspecified length (hence the round number).
Heresy: The millennium took place between 30-70 AD.
Yes, you might want to read that again. The heretical view is that we should compress that “1000” into a bare 40. The matter here is not that the 1000 is not a literal number – all agree that numbers, especially round numbers, in the Bible can be interpreted to mean something more vague – but in such cases, as with the orthodox view, it has to do with the ability to precisely recount large numbers.
Thus for example, Rev. 9:16 literally refers to “two hundred thousand thousand” – we render this in terms of 200 million, but there was no word for “million” available. In the same way, large and precise numbers posed a certain difficulty in terms of expression.
In contrast, compression of that 1000 down to 40 (!) has no linguistic basis whatsoever. “Forty” is perfectly able to be expressed in Biblical Greek (eg, Acts 1:3, 7:23, etc). There is simply no reason from that perspective to crush 1000 down to 40.
So why would a hyperpreterist do this? The argument goes that conditions described as occurring in the millennium are seen in the NT as happening between 30-70 AD. To argue this, however, requires some exceptionally creative exegetical tap-dancing. Let’s look at the arguments, which will hereafter be in italics.
The living were resurrected, awaiting the consummation of the resurrection at the last hour (John 5:24-28; 6:44). Notice Jesus’ “the hour is coming and now is” and “the hour is coming.” John later wrote: “It is the last hour” (1 John 2:18). The resurrection scenario of Revelation is not different from John 5. The fact that 1 John says the consummative last hour was upon them proves that the end of the millennium was near.
The error here is the same made by Mormons who try to force John 5:24-5 to refer to the evangelizing of the dead. There are two “hour is coming” references. One in 5:25 refers to the enlivening of those spiritually dead. The other, in 5:29, refers to an entirely different hour, that of the final resurrection; there is no justification for compressing the two “hours” into one.
In the same way, there is no justification for identifying the “hour” on 1 John 2:18 with either of these “hours”. The word used, hora, can connote a specified length of time like our hour, but it also refers to a known, definite time period (cf. Matt. 10:19, 24:36). Collapsing down all “hours” as being the same is linguistic simple-mindedness. In 1 John 2:18, the proper question to ask is, “the last hour of what”? Then the question is whether that “hour” is the same as either of those in John 5.
Of course, the question can then become whether what is described in John 5:28-9 happened in the first century, and that point – which has to do with what “resurrection” constitutes – we reserve for another portion.
The next several items apparently ought to go together, but we will intersperse as needed:
The martyrs sat on thrones and were given authority to judge (Revelation 20:4). The martyrs were told that they would only have to wait a little while before their full victory was achieved, but first, their living brethren had to suffer to fill the measure of suffering (Revelation 6:9-11).
The living and the dead had been enthroned with Christ “in the heavenlies” (Ephesians 2:1-6).
This last point requires a correction. It is being taken to refer to a literal enthroning of the living and the dead, but that is not what is being described here. Rather, this is a statement of our collective identity in the body of Christ, and is an expression of the collectivist (group-thinking) of the social world of the NT, in which Christ represents us. It is an obvious mistake that comes of reading the text in modern, individualist terms, and this text no more means there are literally people judging with Christ at this time than “I have been crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20) means that Paul literally hung on a cross with Jesus in 30 AD.
It is in this way also that believers could in a sense be said to “reign” with Christ – by the mode of collective identification. Thus it could be said that believers reigned by proxy, as it were, but not that they literally and effectively ruled and administered.
In contrast, what is seen in Revelation reflects a literal administration. Conceivably, one could argue (here and for other citations below) that Revelation here also symbolizes administration by proxy. That is not likely, since it is a select group, not the body of Christ, said to judge. However, even if this were the case, all it would tell us is that rule of believers by Christ’s proxy was not exclusively a characteristic of the millennial period – and indeed, based on the collectivist mindset, it could not be anyway.
The living had been given the authority to judge (Matthew 19:28; 1 Corinthians 6; 2 Corinthians 2:15-16). In Matthew 19:28 Jesus told the apostles that they would sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. This judgment would take place through the message they preached (Matthew 16:19; cf. 2 Corinthians 2:15f).
Here again events have been illicitly collapsed into one. The “judgers” of Matthew 19 are the twelve. The “judgers” of the Cor. passages are the whole body of Christ. The “judgers” of Rev. 20 are martyrs for the faith. We have three different (but to some extent, slightly overlapping) groups in view. Although, there is some attempt to collapse these down:
The living saints had to experience the suffering already experienced by the martyrs.
The living would only have to suffer for a little while (Revelation 6:9-11; 1 Peter 1:4f).
Nevertheless, a full collapsing down is not possible here. Very few Christians became martyrs, and the twelve is not the whole body of Christ. Furthermore, there will certainly be ample opportunity for multiple groups to effect various types of judgments – plenty to keep all three groups occupied. There is no reason to collapse all these events into one.
Satan was bound for the millennium. Here too we find common ground with the ministry of Jesus and the forty years.
When Jesus cast a demon out of a man, the disciples marveled. Jesus’ said that this was not possible unless the strong man was being bound (Matthew 12:29). As he sent his disciples out on the “limited commission” they returned incredulous at their success. Jesus told them: “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:18; cf. Revelation 12).
This is a rather curious understanding of what it means to be “bound”. A single, localized instance of a demon (not even Satan) being cast out of a man is not a binding of Satan. Nor is falling from heaven being “bound”. The word used in Revelation connotes such things as John the Baptist being put in prison and the colt being tied to its place before Jesus’ disciples retrieve it. In contrast, Peter (1 Peter 5:8) later in the NT period (during the supposed millennium!) has Satan prowling around like a lion, and throughout the NT Satan is suspected of a certain amount of activity as well; nothing so trivial as ruining BBQs a la Joyce Meyer, but tempting, acting as an agent of destruction, and so on. Later on, the hyperpreterist amazingly cites 1 Peter 5:8 as evidence of the millennium ending; we will get to that shortly.
Appeal is also made thusly:
We have the binding of the enemy of God: “You know what is restraining him...” “The one who now restrains him will do so until he is taken out of the way” (2 Thessalonians 2:5-7); the binding of Satan (Revelation 20:1-4).
Unfortunately, there is no possibility of identifying the “man of sin” (2 Thess. 2:3) with Satan, and it is he, not Satan, who was being restrained. Who this “man of sin” is can be debated; I am inclined to identify him with the Roman Emperor Vespasian at present. However, there remains no way Satan could be in view, especially in light of all the other references to his activity in the NT.
Paul said the last enemy, death, would be put down at Christ’s parousia (1 Corinthians 15:19-25). John said death would be destroyed at the end of the millennium (Revelation 20:10f). Therefore, Christ’s parousia would be at the end of the millennium: Jesus said “Behold, I come quickly!” Thus, the end of the millennium was near when John wrote.
Here the error is one we have noted in our article on Paul (link below) and eschatology. It assumes that parousia refers exclusively to a single event. In reality it would have no such exclusive connotations.
One way of determining whether the forty year period could have been the millennium is to examine what was to happen at the end of the millennium, and to compare that with the language of imminence found in the NT. If the events that Revelation posits at the end of the millennium were coming soon in the rest of the NT, this constitutes prima facie evidence that the end of the millennium was near.
Examples, however, are rather poor for proving the point.
1.) Satan released– 1 Peter 5:8 – “The Devil walks around seeking whom he may devour.”
But 1 Peter was written before the end of the 40 year period – the alleged “millennium”. Revelation has Satan released after that period is over. There is no “coming soon” in Peter’s words – Satan is seeking victims NOW, in his present. There is no “language of imminence” or any qualification that fits such a thing (e.g., Peter not knowing if it would occur in or past his lifetime).
2.) War with the saints – 1 Peter 1:4f – The Saints had to suffer a little while (cf. Revelation 12:10).
Persecution, however, continues even to this day, past the alleged millennium, though mostly in other places in the world than the West. Being persecuted is not an exclusive characteristic of any period.
3.) Destruction of Satan – Romans 16:20 – “The God of peace shall crush Satan under your feet shortly.” Simply stated: The destruction of Satan would be at the end of the millennium. But, the destruction of Satan was near when Paul wrote Romans. Therefore, the end of the millennium was near when Paul wrote Romans.
This too reflects a rather idiosyncratic definition. As I say in the article linked below:
It is far from clear that Paul here necessarily refers to an eschatological condition. God could "bruise Satan" in any number of ways in the temporal life of the believer. However, the phrase used for "shortly" (en tachei) could also have two meanings: either shortly in time or speedily, with dispatch.
Witherington notes that the phrase is adverbial and should indicate manner.  The verse tells us how, not when, Satan will be crushed. There is, in any event, no contextual reference to the parousia or any event associated with Christ's return or advent; and even if not, preterism holds that Satan was bound around 70 AD, so that it could be argued that this prediction was fulfilled.
Either way, “destruction” is far too strong a word to use for what is described here.
4.) The resurrection– (i.e. “the rest of the dead,” who came to life after the 1000 years, 20:7-12) – Christ was “ready (hetoimos) to judge the living and the dead” (1 Peter 4:5).
5.) Opening of the books / judgment – “There are some standing here that shall not taste of death till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” (Matthew 16:27-28).
It is hard to see what point is being reached for here. That Christ is “ready” to judge people in the afterlife does not mean they are resurrected, or will be any time soon. Nor does Matthew 16 say anything about the books of judgment being opened.
6.) Heaven and earth fled, the New Creation– God dwells with man – “These things must shortly come to pass” (Revelation 22:6, 10-12).
This, however, has all of what is predicted in Revelation as a referent, which by the preterist view includes events of the first century – indeed, by the orthodox view, all but a few lines occurred in the first century, and those lines are cordoned off with a promise of a wait of a “thousand years” – which we are still waiting to be explained as merely 40 years by the hyper-preterist.
A point follows arguing for the end of the millennium as fulfilling Israel’s Feast of Tabernacles, in which it is roundaboutly added:
It is commonly argued that the “ceremonial aspects” of Torah ended at the cross, and that Israel ceased to be God’s covenant people at the cross, while OT prophecy remained (to AD 70) or remains valid (futurism). However, nothing was more “ceremonial” or prophetic, than Israel’s covenantal feast days! The fact that Revelation 20-21 depicts the fulfillment of Israel’s last three feast days at the end of the millennium proves that the “ceremonial” aspects of Torah remained valid when John wrote.
Not at all; this is a non sequitur. Even if we accept the notion that events at the end of the millennium somehow “fulfill” the Feast of Tabernacles – a rather vague claim that is akin to claims that Jesus “imitated” certain pagan deities in that he, like they, offered “salvation” – such a fulfillment would not require a present and continuing observation of that Feast by humans. This is simply a desperate stretch. God is hardly dependent on continuing human observation of holidays for fulfillments of this sort to occur. Nor would it be required for humans to recognize such a connection, since this writer has done so (however correctly – or not) 2000+ years after the fact.
That said, it is far better to see the fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles in terms of the Holy Spirit residing within individual believers – which occurred c. 30 AD.
One last non sequitur is forced in, where it is said that Daniel 12 predicted the final resurrection of all men. We will deal with more detailed claims in that regard in another entry in this area. In the end, no success was had at compressing 1000 years into 40 – and it is akin to offering a single egg and claiming to offer a dozen.
P>Death at the Fall
Our next look at hyperpreterist error has a mirror image in a certain atheist objection I dealt with some time ago. It had been said by the atheist that God “lied” to Adam and Eve because they did not literally keel over the moment they ate of the tree. Hyperpreterists use the same argument for their own purposes, as I noted in a reply to one some time ago:
The article begins by noting that in Gen. 2:15-17, Adam and Eve, after God's promise, did not physically die, but did so spiritually. That much is true, but the jump from "death is spiritual in Genesis" to "therefore it is spiritual in Corinthians" is quite a leap. It is exegetically problematic; as a reader noted, the Hebrew says, "dying you will die," which is an idiom for, "You will begin to die. The process will continue until you are dead."
The purpose in this obfuscation is to define “life” and “death” according to required conveniences which will in turn allow a redefinition of the term “resurrection” to include some otherwise unknown, unattested spiritual event c. 70 AD.
I have approached such attempts at redefinition from the other direction as well, as in this replying to Skeptic Edmund Cohen:
Other than that, where does Cohen suppose he has found examples of "logocide"?
A chief and featured example relates to the use of the words "life" and "death" in the NT. In addition to the "normal" (physical) meanings of these words, Cohen accuses the NT writers of creating "new, alternate meanings"  related to the spiritual (which Cohen signifies in his text by adding a hash mark ['] after the "original word"). So, it is supposed, the missionaries preached about "life" and "death", and people converted on that basis; but: "Little did the believer know when he was first recruited that the Christians were talking about eternal life', not eternal life."
Of course the word here for life, zoe, authentically carries both a figurative and literal sense; but even so, I find this claim of conspiratorial term-switching rather puzzling. Cohen is apparently suggesting that Christian missionaries went around preaching "eternal life" without telling anyone that they did not mean physical, earthly immortality, and only later, after a convert had been "caught", was it explained that "eternal life" was spiritual in nature and involved immortality only in the sense that there was a hereafter.
All right -- so where is the proof that the converts were not aware of the supposed difference in the term from the very beginning? Doesn't "life" today also have a dual meaning -- that both of physical "life" and of a more ethereal, perhaps spiritual "life"? If I walk up to you today and say, "Try Hare Krishna and learn how to live life," does that imply that you were walking around physically dead like some sort of zombie prior to now?
Cohen apparently fails to perceive that this dual meaning of "life" was in fact nothing new at all. It appears in Genesis 3 in regards to the way Adam and Eve "died." Later , he cites this very passage, but explains it by saying that "God already had [the alternate meaning] in mind." Why is this not rather a sign that the "alternate meaning" was a known and accepted usage, one that could be determined by context and explanation?
There is no indication anywhere in the NT or in recorded history that the church purposely confused these terms to win converts. If they did, why is there no indication that some dropped out when they found out that "life" did not mean physical immortality, as some surely would have? This is an argument from silence, but it is a significant one, because such easily falsified claims would have been incredible fodder for the likes of Celsus. Perhaps Cohen was confused by these terms, but there is no evidence that any of the early converts were -- and neither was I, or any other Christian I have ever met.
What Cohen supposes happened in history, hyperpreterists enact today – though in the opposite direction.
Death as Ongoing
In the recent discussion, one hyperpreterist saw fit to argue in service of the above these points:
Physical death is a one-time event and nothing more. But this is not quite true. Life is essentially (as we now have it) a constant battle against decay that we all eventually lose. Aging is understood as the road to death in religious contexts worldwide. Relating back to the earlier objection, the argument that God lied in Genesis because Adam and Eve didn't drop dead on the spot the moment they ate the fruit, the proper reply is that this a naive, literalist hermeneutic which fails to recognize the semantic range of "death" in social and religious terms to refer to separation from that which offers life (both physical and spiritual) and not merely some instant.
Reply: But if Adam and Eve’s physical death was progressive as you say, then what’s to say their spiritual death was not progressive as well?
It is as well to ask why one would think it should be, other than to contrive a problem. The body is a physical entity with specific properties; spiritual death – having to do with covenant relations with God – is not associated with any such entity. This is like suggesting that if a building “explodes” and one’s temper also “explodes,” there’s something amiss if both don’t produce literal flames.
In the end, nothing of this prevents the spiritual separation from being instantaneous.
Reply: If Adam was immortal, how was he already dying and subject to death by virtue of the penalty? Jesus says those who are immortal “cannot die anymore.”
Two points. The first is that whether indeed Adam was “immortal” is a debated question. Some would argue (as I would, per C. S. Lewis in Out of the Silent Planet) that the physical body of the earliest period was not immortal; but that physical death when it came was a more dignified affair, shepherded by God as a step into the next realm of life. In that regard, the penalty of “death” is not merely physical death, but – in accord with the agonistic principles of that social world – are to be associated as well with the conglomerate of spiritual death, as well as the shame and disgrace associated with aging as we now know it.
Even so, the referenced words of Jesus are to persons resurrected at the last day by the power of God. Adam was not a resurrected being. If he was immortal, it was not in the context of a prior final judgment in which evil was once and for all defeated, and we cannot say that whatever “immortality” he may (or may not) have had was subject to Jesus’ description. (If anything, it is arguable that the presence of the tree of life accords with any immortality of that age as acquired, rather than inherent.)
Reply: Why are those of us who are delivered from sin, via Christ’s death and resurrection, dying so quickly compared to Adam, with a lifespan typically only 70 years, while Adam lived into his 900s?
This question has been theoretically answered by my scientist friends in creationist ministry for years, though it is not an answer that would require a creationist worldview to accept in logical terms. Their answer is simply that it took time for the natural world to decay into the unhealthier place it now is. God created it perfect, and perfection does not rot overnight into complete degeneracy.
At the same time, it is absurd to suppose that even a 900 year lifespan is in some way significant when the previous lifespan was "eternity" (if we grant the premise of immortality, as noted).
At this, the hyperpreterist made two rather strained arguments:
If you take a young earth view that the world was created about 4004 BC, then it only took about 2000 years for a 800 year decline in lifespan, or about .4 years per century. However, the lifespan since Abraham almost 4,000 years has only declined about 100 years, or about 0.025 years per century.
What the point is of this argument, in context, is hard to discern. The trend does not need to be precipitous or uniform over time for it to be downward and signifying, which is sufficient for the point.
Lifespans are on the rise worldwide!
This is true, due to better health care and other factors, but is manifestly beside the point. The very fact that we are required to use “props” to achieve these longer spans (such as medications, or sanitized surroundings) merely emphasizes the depth of the struggle of life against death and if anything affirms, rather than contradicts, the essential nature of our world as one in which deterioration reigns supreme.
Orthodoxy: Texts about resurrection reflect a physical process.
Heresy: Certain texts about resurrection in the OT are not about biological restoration but about restoration from spiritual death.
There’s a significance in the response I got from this hyperpreterist when I noted the reams of informing contexts in between the OT and the understanding of resurrection as a concept in the first century, which clearly informs the words of Jesus, Paul, and the rest of the NT:
Maybe this is a good time to inform you that we are having a “Bible” discussion here, not a discussion of “opinions” held during the inter-testamental period. While they may offer some educational value, they are not the final authority. The word of God must prevail in all cases. God always reserves the right to choose and define his own terms. So, without equivocation, I will readily ignore reams of contexts which are outside of the Bible when they contradict what is “inside” the Bible.
Readers are well familiar with how head-in-sand this approach is, so I need say little more other than to note that it speaks for itself that this must be the resort in order to preserve a desired interpretation.
If spiritual death is a reality, then does that not demand a spiritual resurrection?
Not at all -- it demands a spiritual regeneration, not resurrection. Here the hyperpreterist is simply abusing and misusing the term "resurrection," expanding its semantic range into the meaning he needs for it to have. But the word in the NT, anistemi, meant a standing up, and disembodied spirits don't have anything to "stand up" in.
In response to this, the hyperpreterist offered the argument that what was described was “metaphorical” resurrection. But this is little more than the contrived resort of the fundamentalist (and fundamentalist atheist!) who waves off as “metaphorical” anything that does not admit to a suitable literal interpretation. Of course, the designation of metaphor is not illicit in itself, but one must offer suitable reasons for the designation, such as prior use of such metaphors, or some literal impossibility or contradiction; e.g., the darkness and fire of hell must be metaphors because they are contradictions in their literal sense, and their close juxtaposition argues for the contradiction as intentional and signifying of metaphor.
In this regard, the hyperpreterist offered a sparse exegetical attempt:
The resurrection body (soma) and death of Romans 8:10-11, is equal to that of Romans 8:23. Likewise as the Spirit was operative in the body of death per Romans 8:10-11, it is operative in that body of Rom. 8:23. Thus, same Spirit, same body, therefore same death.
This is true, but misses the obvious point in v. 11: “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” Since even hyperpreterists agree Jesus was physically raised, this can only refer to some future promise for the believer and not a present reality.
From here, it was declared, the “body” of Rom. 8 is the same as that of 1 Cor. 15 and Dan. 12. This again may be true but is beside the point. 1 Cor. 15 is still future for us in terms of resurrection. Daniel we shall speak more of below.
But the word soma (body) is used by Paul to refer to something other than a physical body.
In such cases, however, Paul uses the word “body” (or “dead/death”) as a metaphor for some spiritual or other reality (e.g., the body of Christ). This does not therefore mean that what he describes should also be literally referred to as a “body” (in the human sense) in other contexts. The hyperpreterist position clumsily switches at will between metaphorical and literal, and tries to collapse them down into having the same meaning.
Orthodoxy: The resurrection of all men is yet future.
Heresy: The resurrection of all men occurred in 70 AD.
The following syllogism was offered by the hyperpreterist:
The hidden premise, unproven, is, “ ‘all things’ means ‘everything listed in the Old Covenant’”. But such a reading is entirely unjustified. In context, “all things” in Matt and Luke has its best referent in the contents of the Olivet Discourse, which of course does not include a prediction of the resurrection of all men. Expanding “all things” to the OT as a whole is unwarranted.
A Reading of Daniel
Daniel 12 refers to bodies raised from the “dust of the earth.” It is my view that Matthew saw this fulfilled in the raising of the saints (and also of some shamed persons, appropriately, not mentioned) at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion.
The hyperpreterist appealed to a reputed difference of view held by Ken Gentry, who is said to think the passage “refers to the deliverance of Israel during the great tribulation preceding the 70AD destruction,” and it is also noted that he holds a similar view of Ezekiel 37. I don’t find this view very persuasive, but for the purpose of the hyperpreterist, Gentry’s difference of view is not helpful, since it amounts to saying that Daniel uses physical resurrection as a metaphor for some spiritual event, that was not itself a resurrection. Similarly, that is what I would say Ezekiel is doing, though he uses the metaphor to represent Israel’s restoration as a nation after the Babylonian captivity.
This was a repeated error of the hyperpreterists: They assumed that because resurrection was used as a metaphor of some spiritual event, the event itself was properly described in terms of a “resurrection” as well. Such is merely semantic sleight of hand.
Paul quotes Daniel 12:1-2 in Rom. 13:11-12 and Acts 24:14-15. This shows that he does not think it is yet fulfilled, as you claim with an application to Matthew’s saints.
Paul does no more than allude to Daniel in these passages, at most; and I have doubts that he does even that. Even so, such a claim reflects a poor understanding of the use of Scripture in first century Jewish exegesis. In reality, a virtuous and honorable exegete was practiced at using texts in creative and allusive ways that would apply to new situations. Paul’s allusions to Dan. 12:1-2, if they are genuine, therefore would in no way signify that he thinks the passage is (or is not) already fulfilled in some way. Indeed, in the case of Acts, “a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust” is still expected even if Dan. 12 was fulfilled by Matthew’s saints.
Our examination of hyperpreterist variations continues with a look at a few more arguments concerning the "death" of Adam and Eve, and then will segue into some more material on resurrection.
Adam and Eve were told that, "In the day you eat you will die." They obviously ate the fruit in a given 24 hour period of time, so their death must also have been that same day.
This is a naive approach to Scripture which fails to grasp that "day" is manifestly used of periods that did not take only 24 hours. (For example, Genesis 2:4 uses “in the day” to compress 7 full days of creation.) Whether a 24 hour "day" or a "day" in a broader sense is meant must be decided by contextual considerations, and here, one must limit "death" to only one aspect of its broader concept in religious contexts (including the Bible) in order to force into the text of Genesis an event that took place in single day.
Hyperpreterists use this argument to suggest that there is no idea of physical death indicated at all. It is amazing that one can ignore the clear message that physical death is indeed one aspect of the situation, as is indicated by the gradually declining lifespans after the fall, as well as by the many passages which speak of the weakness of the flesh. Is it really sensible, moreover, to suppose that when Paul said death would be defeated, he meant to exclude the death of the body? Isn't it rather odd that the very word used for physical death is read to exclude it? If the Jews did not think death would be defeated by physical resurrection, how do we explain their burial rites which tried so hard to keep the bones together? These are just three of many puzzles the hyperpreterist view creates, and they must inevitably create out of whole cloth a creative “Colombian drug lords did it” explanation for each such puzzle – which, as we shall see, they do not hesitate to do.
The restoration promises made in the NT are assuredly mostly of a spiritual nature. However, these spiritual promises in no way indicate a mutual exclusivity of a physical restoration component as well.
Jesus indicated that Abraham longed to see his day (John 8:56). Why would this be so if Jesus did not crush Satan's head and bring to realization the new heaven and earth?
This is a peculiar argument, for it implicitly assumes that nothing in Jesus' day would have been anything Abraham would have longed to see. Was there nothing at the time that Abraham would have longed to see? What about the enthronement of Jesus as Son of Man? What about the inauguration of the new covenant through his descendants (something which Abraham would have seen as accruing enormous prestige and honor to himself and his family)?
Jesus refuted the idea of physical resurrection when he answered the Sadducees' dilemma by saying that the patriarchs were in paradise, and that men would subsist in the form of angels.
The first point is a non sequitur and requires no further answer. The second is not honest; Jesus says nothing of the "form" of persons in the resurrection, but merely declares concerning the covenant of marriage. Since all will be the "bride of Christ," there can be no other marriage covenants in heaven.
Paul rejected physical resurrection when he said, “And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be.” (1 Cor. 15:37) He's saying that thee body that is buried is not the body that rises.
That is so, because the resurrection body is such a radically new thing that it is definitely not the body that was "sown". Not surprisingly, hyperpreterists use some of the same arguments as do Skeptics in this regard (links below).
Just because Paul called Jesus the “first fruits” of our resurrection does not mean our resurrection will be physical as well.
Yes, actually, it does. This is a peculiar fancy of the hyperpreterist. They agree that Jesus' resurrection was physical, but think ours will not be! But the "first fruits" language can indicate little else, for it is of a piece with the collectivist notion of Jesus as the ideal and exemplary head of the body of Christ.
The significance of Christ’s resurrection was his power over hades, not the physical grave. In Rev. 1:18, Jesus said: “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore. Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” Jesus did not say he has the keys of the physical grave, but of hell.
This is yet another example of forcing a mutual exclusivity where none exists. Yes, Christ's power over hell is significant; no, this does not exclude power over physical death. Physical death and decay was representative of the power of hell influencing creation, and once again, the hyperpreterist must casually ignore this as though physical death, and its attendant prior decay and sufferings, were of no moment to humans or to God.
Similarly, it may be argued that the sole purpose of Jesus' Resurrection was "evidentiary." This is again a forced mutual exclusivity: The Resurrection was indeed for the sake of evidence, but this does not exclude it also being a model for our fate. It also misses the point that the Resurrection served to restore Jesus' honor after crucifixion -- and by the same token, our own honor will not be restored if our body remains rotting in the grave.
Hyperpreterist desperation on this point is such that it will even be admitted that the saints in Matthew 27 were also raised physically -- but that this too was just for "evidentiary" purposes, and that because Matthew does specify that their bodies arose, this is a subtle indication that if this were a normal resurrection, they would not have had a bodily resurrection! Such tendentious gerrymandering of the text speaks for itself.
Hebrews refers to Jesus “in the days of his flesh." This shows that he is no longer in the flesh and thus that believers aspire to a similar spiritual form as he has now.
Really? By this same logic, we will get a physical resurrection body we will later shed. And the Mormons are right that we all started as spirit beings (since Jesus did too).
Proponents of physical resurrection argue for the resurrection of the flesh because they believe our eternal reward is in the material realm upon a new earth.
Perhaps some do, but there is no necessary cause-effect link between these two elements. One need not see Earth as our final home; there's a whole physical universe out there to revamp, and if we wish to be technical, inheriting the "kingdom of heaven" refers to an ideology, not a place (Link below.) It is also hardly necessary to see the material Earth as our sole residence at that time.
We now turn to how hyperpreterists dispense with passages that teach bodily resurrection. Mostly, they resort to contrivances such as physical resurrection being a figure for some spiritual reality, an argument we considered in a prior area. Or they may resort to exceptional strains such as this:
John 5:28-9: Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
No physical bodies are mentioned in this text. All Jesus says is that those in the graves will come forth. They will, but they'll come forth in spirit and go to heaven.
The machinations here are simply outrageous, and too obvious to warrant more comment than this: Graves contain bodies. If bodies are not in mind here, then the reference to "graves" is superfluous, and also (too conveniently) accords with the language of physical resurrection.
So likewise: Rom. 8:11's reference to the "quickening of our mortal bodies" is explained away as "the regenerative effects of God’s spirit in man." Phil. 3:21's promise of a " change" to our "vile body" is massaged into a reference to "the collective body of Jews and Gentiles waiting for the redemption and adoption of the church." 1 Thess. 4:16 is waved off because it does not mention physical bodies. Everywhere resurrection is found, any excuse possible is contrived to avoid the interpretation that is most natural as well as most in tune with what we know of Jewish eschatology.
Next, let's have a look at passages used by hyperpreterists to negate the idea of physical resurrection. These are what few are offered apart from standard passages covered in links below.
2 Cor. 5:6-8 says, “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:..." If we are reunited with the body, we will be at home in the body and absent from the Lord!
This is actually typical of a number of hyperpreterist machinations which fail to perceive any difference between the body we now inhabit and the glorified resurrection body. Indeed, this interpretation is of a piece with numerous others that treat the resurrection body as equal to the "flesh" referred to in other passages as weak. In that regard, hyperpreterists ignore the connotations of "flesh" as referring to the weak, mortal human condition (see link below).
Hebrews 12:23 refers to "the spirits of just men made perfect.” Why would they need resurrection bodies if they're perfect?
Their spirits are perfect; however, to become human, they would be required to possess a body as well (in line with Semitic Totality; link below).
The nature of the resurrection body -- though geared mostly to atheist objections, hyperpreterists use some of the same arguments.
We will now examine claims raised in articles found by a reader, concerning specifically the book of Zechariah, and the claim that it forecasts the final resurrection of all men as occurring in the first century. The arguments made in this regard start thin, and get worse from there, so this will not take long.
The River of Life. The argument goes that:
a) Zech. 14:8 predicts that a "river" of life will issue from Jerusalem.
b) The river of life is "associated with" resurrection life.
c) Therefore, the resurrection will have occurred in 70 AD when the rest of Zech 14 was fulfilled.
The non sequitur here is manifest: Water is symbolic of life, in the person of God's Spirit, in the New Testament. Although resurrection is a benefit of that life, it is not the sole benefit; nor is it one with immediacy indicated. This vague "association" is little better than the "association" made by copycat Christ-mythers who says that the impregnation of Isis by Osiris is able to be "associated with" the virgin conception of Jesus.
Curses! A similarly weak "association" is made between the "curse" of Zech. 14:11 and various other "curses" in the OT, so that the line is as follows:
a) Death is one of the great curses on men.
b) Zechariah indicates the end of a curse.
c) Must be the curse of death he's talking about!
This is a particularly acute blunder, because the word used in 14:11 – though sometimes translated “curse” – is actually the word used of cities and things devoted to destruction in war. So in context of preterist views, this alludes to Jerusalem no longer being destroyed again as it was in 70 – which of course it cannot be, since it is now in essence a corporate body of all who believe!
No more persuasive is an attempt to link Zech. 14:11 to Revelation 22:3. While it is plausible that the latter may allude to the former, this does not in any way prove that the latter refers to the same event as the former. As noted by Malina and Rohrbaugh, this is rather exemplary of the use and re-application of the OT texts in new and allusive ways that brought honor to the exegete.
Tabernacle Feast. Yet another non sequitur that is employed:
a) Zechariah 14 predicts people coming to Jerusalem to observe the Feast of Tabernacles.
b) The "Messianic import" of that Feast was "resurrection life".
c) So all those people must be celebrating being resurrected!
Unfortunately, it is not really explained how Tabernacles’ “Messianic import” was “resurrection life.” Typology can be a bit of a loose practice at times when you have something to prove, and while I can find some who see the final resurrection typed in this feast, others see in it a type of how Christ leads us to salvation. Item B is the weak link in the above, as it is entirely subjective – to get support, it would have to be shown that historically, among Jews, it had this alleged “Messianic import.”
And the non-sequiturs continue, such as this:
a) Zech 14:9 says God will be king of the earth.
b) Well, how can that happen and there not be a resurrection!
Obviously, there is no logical connection between the ruling of God and resurrection necessarily happening.
And that is all? In essence, yes. The case for resurrection in Zechariah is a matter of one non sequitur after another, one tenuous and contrived thematic connection after another. With that it is as well to bring this study to a temporary close, but when the times comes for a Building Blocks resource on eschatology, we will certainly return to these matters -- if not earlier.