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2 Thessalonians chapter 2 – A Response to Matthew Henry’s Commentary

In the last issue of Fulfilled Magazine you were offered the opportunity to examine for yourself views that spoke of “moving beyond full preterism” and full preterism being the “Hymenean heresy”. As Brian Martin so rightly said, I feel that Truth has nothing to fear from opposing or differing views. If full preterism is the true, Biblical interpretation of eschatology, then it will prevail against all challenges”.

In this article I desire to show you the “Berean spirit” (Acts 17:11) alive and well in the Full Preterist community. I personally have approached those who speak ill of Full Preterism and asked for “reasons” (1 Peter 3:15) for their view- only to be given apathetic responses and or ostracized for my “critical mind”. In contrast, many times I am offered the opportunity to answer questions which I more than welcome, I encourage it.

Recently, a friend of a member of my congregation offered the commentary of 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 as a rebuke of the Full Preterist position. I would like to take some time to respond and deal with the issue that arise from a proper understanding of the text. Here is the link to the commentary offered by Matthew Henry:

http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/2-thessalonians/2.html

2 Thessalonians chapter 2 is an interesting passage for someone to use “against” Full Preterism . Bible teacher Kurt Simmons writes:

“One of the chief eschatological passages of the New Testament is II Thess. 2, which speaks of the “man of sin” whom the Lord would consume at his coming. (II Thess. 2:3, 8) Tradition among primitive Christians identified St. Paul’s “man of sin” with St. John’s “antichrist” and Revelation’s “beast,” many holding that these were references to Nero. In his fourth homily on II Thessalonians, St. Chrysostom (A.D. 347 to 407) states,

“For the mystery of lawlessness doth already work.” He speaks here of Nero… But he did not also wish to point him out plainly: and this not from cowardice, but instructing us not to bring upon ourselves unnecessary enmities, when there is nothing to call for it.”

So what I hope to provide you with in this “response” is information pertaining to the “eschatological confusion” that has been shown in regards to 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, the culture and background of the confusion in different periods of time through church history (especially pertaining to Matthew Henry’s generation), and a contextual understanding of 2 Thessalonians chapter 2- with provided resources.

In his commentary, Matthew Henry notes that the purpose and opening of 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 is a refutation of the error regarding the “coming of the Lord”. Apparently, the Thessalonians thought the coming of the Lord had come and gone. That alone should come many to PAUSE.

If the “coming of the Lord” or the 2nd Coming as referred to by many, is this big cataclysmic event which involves stars falling to earth, a physical body of a 1st century Jewish man floating out of the sky on a horse, attended by the resurrection of biological bodies and the planet being destroyed- HOW IN THE WORLD COULD THESE PEOPLE HAVE MISSED IT?!?! This alone should cause many to reexamine their view and position of the “coming of the Lord”.

Matthew Henry lived during the 1700’s. This was a time when “end times interpretation” was greatly influenced by what is called the “Continuous Historical Approach”. This approach finds in the imagery of Revelation a continuous, chronologically sequential panorama of history reaching until the world’s end. The first to use this approach was Nicolas of Lyra (A.D. 1329) in his Postilla. Nicolas of Lyra was a Franciscan who rejected the apocalypticism of his fellow Franciscans. Instead, Nicolas offered a continuous-historical interpretation of Revelation beginning in the first century and reaching to his own time. This approach found its way into what we might call “mainstream though” through the Reformation initiated by Martin Luther, the German reformer. Luther equated his times and struggles with the fight against the Antichrist whom he deemed was the Pope. The continuous-historical method has few modern proponents. Its traditional interpretation equating the beast and harlot with papal Rome has not withstood serious scrutiny; no reputable scholars embrace it today. In some “cultish” crowds such as Ellis Scoffield and 7th Day Adventists one is likely to find these interpretation.

A proper understanding of “interpretation principles” enhances our understanding of the Bible. Many ‘Christians’ are content with a ‘face value’ or a 21st century influenced understanding of the ancient Scriptures which is dismaying to say the least. The ‘Continuous-Historical Approach’ is void of audience relevance, consideration of time statements, and the narrative-context of the Scriptures.

In his commentary, Matthew Henry says:

“From these words it appears that some among the Thessalonians had mistaken the apostle’s meaning, in what he had written in his former epistle about the coming of Christ, by thinking that it was near at hand,—that Christ was just ready to appear and come to judgment….and hereupon the apostle is careful to rectify this mistake, and to prevent the spreading of this error. Observe, If errors and mistakes arise among Christians, we should take the first opportunity to rectify them, and hinder the spreading thereof; and good men will be especially careful to suppress errors that may arise from a mistake of their words and actions, though that which was spoken or done was ever so innocent or well”.

Yes, the Apostle Paul was strongly speaking against “eschatological error” in the church at Thessalonica concerning the “coming of the Lord”. This is a work I have engaged in for the past 2-3 years now and it seems many in the Church want to “lessen” the importance of rectifying this error.

Why does it matter? This chapter of 2 Thessalonians clearly shows us the Apostles thought this was a serious issue and had the potential to distort the gospel (something I believe is being done in many churches across the world today). Therefore in writing this article and reproving errors I endeavor to follow the same logic in which Mr. Henry operated in taking ‘the first opportunity to rectify them”, even if that means showing that Matthew Henry’s interpretation of 2 Thessalonians 2 was indeed in error.

Ok..So open up your Bibles to 2 Thessalonians. I urge you before this study to take a minute to read through 2 Thessalonians chapters 1-3, that way you can get the “full force” of the letter the Apostle wrote to the Thessalonians church in A.D. 51-52. Understanding that alone is important and gives credit to the historical reliability of Scripture.

At the beginning of this letter from Paul, Timothy, and Silvanus they are encouraging the Church at Thessalonica through persecution. Notice what is said:

“…in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure. This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:4-8)”.

So if this letter was penned in the first century and dropped off at the doorstep of the Thessalonians church which was undergoing persecution and is promising them relief when the “Lord comes”- isn’t it only right to question is the Lord was faithful to this promise and gave them relief? After all, this letter is set forth to clear the confusion and not confuse more- yet the words of Christ Himself to the Apostles alive in that time was that some of them would not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming with His angels on the clouds of heaven to bring judgment (Matthew 16:27-28).

As we move into chapter 2, we now can understand why the Thessalonians would “lose composure” or be disturbed by a message that the coming had already occurred- they were still experiencing persecution- where was this RELIEF?!?!

Speaking about the “gathering together to him” should remind us of Matthew 24:31. In an article in which Dr. Don K. Preston goes in depth about the ‘gathering together’ he writes this:

“An examination of Matthew 24-25 with II Thessalonians 1-2 is especially revealing. In Matthew you have the threat of persecution with the promise of the Parousia for vindication and judgment on the persecutors–the city of Jerusalem. In II Thessalonians 1 you have the church being persecuted, and that persecution is instigated by the Jews, Acts 17. Those being persecuted are promised vindication at the coming of the Lord in fire and vengeance. The Thessalonians were suffering the persecution promised and foreseen by Jesus. Why then is the coming of the Lord in vindication in Thessalonians not the same coming of Jesus in vindication and judgment as that of Matthew 24:29-31?”.

So this gathering would be done after the tribulation which Jesus Christ speaks about in Matthew chapter 24, which a proper historical study can offer is fulfilled through the events of the Roman-Jewish War of AD 70.

“Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exhalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)”.

Now I personally believe the proof of this passage being in the past is what I posted above about the “gathering together” which was to occur in AD 70. I believe the saints were “raised up” along with “the dead ones” and brought into the presence of God- which until every jot and tittle of the Law was fulfilled could not happen. However, let’s analyze the 2 things the Apostle Paul lists here that must occur prior to the “coming of the Lord” and the “gathering together”. Could these have happened about 20 years after the Apostle Paul penned the second letter to the Thessalonians?

“APOSTASY COMES”.... Dr. Don K. Preston again weighs in on this and says:

“In Matthew 24:12 Jesus said that in the days prior to his coming in the destruction of Jerusalem, “because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.” In the previous verse he warned that false prophets would “mislead many.” In verse 10 he had stated that due to persecution “many will fall away.”

Can you see the comparison? In Matthew 24 the disciples asked when the Lord was going to come. Jesus said before he returned there would be a time when “many will fall away;” false prophets would “mislead many;” and “most people’s love will grow cold.” He then told them he would come after that apostasy but in that generation, vss. 29-34.

In II Thessalonians the brethren were believing the Lord had already come. To correct their chronological error Paul reminded them that before the Lord could come “the apostasy” had to happen.

He was reminding them of the apostasy the Lord himself had said must happen!”.

BUT…who is this MAN OF LAWLESSNESS? 

Clearly from the words of the Apostle Paul this ‘man’ was alive in his time (2 Thessalonians 2:6-8).

Something was holding him back. There seems to be quite the controversy surrounding “he who know retrains” but with proper context I believe it is quite clear who this ‘man’ was.

Dr. Kenneth Gentry, who is NOT A FULL PRETERIST has some good details to share about identifying this man of lawlessness:

“The “man of lawlessness” is Nero Caesar, who also is the beast of Revelation, as a number of Church Fathers believe. This passage’s difficulty lies in the fact that Paul “describes the Man of Sin with a certain reserve” (Origen, Celsus 6:45) for fear of incurring “the charge of calumny for having spoken evil of the Roman emperor” (Augustine, City of God 20:19). Paul and his associates had already suffered at the hands of the Thessalonican Jews for “acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king – Jesus” (Ac 17:7). Wisdom demands discreetness when referring to imperial authority; his recent (1Th 2:17) personal ministry among them allows it: they were to “remember” that while with them he “told [them] these things” (2:5).

Paul clearly implies that something is presently (ca.AD 52) “restraining” (present participle) the man of sin “that he may be revealed in his own time” (2Th 2:6). The man of lawlessness is alive and waiting to be “revealed.” This implies that for the time being, Christians could expect at least some protection from the Roman government: the Roman laws regardingreligio licita  are currently in Christianity’s favor, while it remains a sect of Judaism. This begins to end after the malevolent Nero ascends the throne, for he begins persecuting Christianity in AD 64. Paul certainly enjoys the protection of Roman law (Ac 18:12ff) and makes important use of it in AD 59 (Ac 25:11–12; 28:19), when he seeks protection from the malignancy of the Jews”.

Or as author James Stuart Russel noted:

“But how striking are the indications that point to Nero in the year when this epistle was written, say A.D.52 or 53. At that time Nero was not yet ‘manifested;’ his true character was not discovered; he had not yet succeeded to the Empire. Claudius, his step-father, lived, and stood in the way of the son of Agrippina. But that hindrance was soon removed. In less than a year, probably, after this epistle was received by the Thessalonians, Claudius was ‘taken out of the way,’ a victim to the deadly practice of the infamous Agrippina; her son also, according to Suetonius, being accessory to the deed. But ‘the mystery of lawlessness was already working;’ the influence of Nero must have been powerful in the last days of the wretched Claudius; the very plots were probably being hatched that paved the way for the accession of the son of the murderess. A few months more would witness the advent to the throne of the world of a miscreant whose name is gibbeted in everlasting infamy as the most brutal of tyrants and the vilest of men”.

Bible Teacher Kurt Simmons would be inclined to historically explain that it was Claudius Caesar and the restraining power of the religio licita that kept the man of lawelessness from being revealed. 

Although being consistent with what is called “intellectual honesty” I must admit there are some who agree that this passage was fulfilled in the 1st century yet they would explain the details a bit different. For example, Bible teacher Ed Stevens would offer the high priest as the ‘lawless one”. He explains:

“The Jewish persecutors, the Judaizers, and the Zealots all show that this was fulfilled in the first century. The falling away was in progress as the last few NT books were written. One only needs to read things like the books of Hebrews, James, 1 & 2 Peter and 1-3 John to see this. The falling away coincided with the great persecution and tribulation that descended on the church just before the Jewish revolt (A.D. 63-66). During this persecution James, Peter and others (such as Paul) were killed (A.D. 63). And it was probably about this same time that John was exiled to Patmos. The NT writers during this time of persecution were bravely challenging their fellow-saints to persevere. The faithful remnant did. But many others forsook the “better things” in Christ and returned to Judaism’s things that were “fading away” and about to be destroyed. The “falling away” and “the coming of the man of sin” were first century events. They occurred in connection with the persecution of the church just before the Jewish revolt in A.D. 66. The destruction and defilement of the temple at Jerusalem is explained in great detail by Josephus. While 2 Thess. 2:1-4 is usually associated with “THE” Antichrist, we need to remember that the anti-Christian spirit was already at work in the first century. The Jewish persecution was already underway when Paul wrote these words. The Holy Spirit was restraining its effect until the church reached a mature-enough condition to persevere. There was a close connection indeed between the tribulation and the apostasy. The anti-Christian forces were persecuting the church to get them to fall away.

There are many passages which indicate that the “anti-Christ” was actually the anti-Christian spirit which motivated the Jewish persecutors who worked against the church in the period before AD 70. Notice these passages in particular: 1 Jn. 4:3; cf. 1 Jn. 2:17, 18; and 2 Thess. 2:7. Whatever this “man of lawlessness” was, it was already at work during the time Paul wrote, and was evidently at its worst when John wrote, since he says, “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have arisen; from this we KNOW it is THE LAST HOUR.” (emphasis mine, ES). And, it is not just preterists who suggest the “man of lawlessness” was something other than an individual. Several of the amillennial and post-millennial theories suggest the same. As far as individual “antichrists” are concerned, some have suggested the various messianic contenders during the war with Rome (John of Gischala, Simon ben Giora, or Eleazar ben Ananias, Eleazar ben Yair — the leader at Masada, or the High Priest). The Judaizers could easily qualify as “antichrists” as well. As I explain in my article elsewhere on this website, I believe the “beast” was Jewish. Whether it was the Jewish Zealots as a group, or individual leader as a figurehead, is not of real big concern to me. If I had to choose an individual who fits all the criteria mentioned here in 2 Thess. 2 and Revelation, I would probably focus on Eleazar ben Yair who resurrected his cause at Masada”.

Sure enough….the “coming of the Lord” occurred when the Romans surrounded the city of Jerusalem (Luke 21:20). This event destroyed the persecutors of the saints (Galatians 4:23-31). The temple was destroyed and it was clear as day as the 1st century historian Josephus noted:

“And this seems to me to have been the reason why God, out of his hatred of these men’s wickedness, rejected our city; and as for the temple, he no longer esteemed it sufficiently pure for him to inhabit therein, but brought the Romans upon us, and threw a fire upon the city to purge it; and brought upon us, our wives, and children, slavery, as desirous to make us wiser by our calamities”.

The rise of Full Preterism can be quite intimidating to many people who want to hold to certain “traditional” teachings. What needs to be known that within the Full Preterist community there are Christians who seek simply to know, understand, and to be obedient to the teachings of Jesus Christ- ALL THE TEACHINGS. I hope I have shown the ‘intellectual honesty’ in this response to the critics who may utilize Matthew Henry’s commentary and I hope that I have shown Mr. Henry’s thoughts on 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 to be flawed.

The fact remains- the letter of 2 Thessalonians was a first century writing to the Thessalonian church to encourage them to withstand persecution having hope in the “coming of the Lord” which would be judgement upon those who persecuted them. This judgment/ “coming of the Lord” occurred right on time as judgment came upon the city of Jerusalem and its inhabitants. Those whom were santified in Christ were ‘gathered to the Lord’ as they heeded His teachings and sure enough as the 1st century historian Josephus accounts- NOT ONE CHRISTIAN DIED IN THE CITY!

 

Reference:

http://www.preteristcentral.com/The%20Road%20Back%20to%20Preterism.html

http://www.preteristarchive.com/Hyper/0000_preston_second-thess.html

http://www.preteristarchive.com/Hyper/0000_preston_how-possible.html

http://torreygazette.com/austinpreterism/2013/07/23/gentry-theology-man-of-lawlessness-identified

http://kloposmasm.com/2009/08/16/pp15-the-man-of-lawlessness-ii-thess-2-part-1/

http://www.preterist.org/preteristQA.asp

 

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TRUE FAITH/ FULFILLED HOPE – REVIEW OF CHARLES MEEK’S BOOK

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“Thanks are extended to my futurist friends whose skepticism about COVENANT ESCHATOLOGY made me dig that much deeper to get to the truth. Truth is a glorious thing”. – Charles Meek

I could not have expressed my gratitude any better than Mr. Meek did in the above statement. This blog will serve as my sort of “giving back”, as I hope many of my Futurist friends as well as fellow Preterist brethren will read this blog and Mr. Meek’s book and “see clearly”.

it is an earnest plea because as David Green said in the beginning of Charles Meek’s book – “The last days are approaching- the last days of futurism, that is. Out of the dying and conflicting ism’s of the tradition of futurism is arising the FAITH-CONFIRMING truth of FULL PRETERISM. it’s ascent has been slow, but steady and sure”.

I must say reading the ‘Forward’ to ‘Christian Hope through Fulfilled Eschatology’ was one of the most encouraging things I have read it a while. Packed with what I would call “THE POWER OF PRETERISM”. A must read for sure.

This isn’t necessarily intended to be a “book review”, but I imagine many may care for my thoughts. In writing ‘Christian Hope through Fulfilled Prophecy’, Mr. Meek has provided a humble, simple, and full of answers explanation of Full Preterism. I will admit there were areas that I may “agree to disagree” (as you will see through this blog), but overall the intellectual honestly that was put forth by Mr. Meek was astounding.

So let’s jump right into it….. What do YOU know about the end times? Are you views based on Scripture of maybe what you have been taught? Have you taken the time to examine things for yourself?

This is so important because if you would have talked to me about 6 years ago I had an entirely different view of Scripture, of the “end times” and of the gospel message. I can assure you as I have set out to “prove all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21)” my faith has been challenged and strengthened. I can truthfully and reasonably tell you my Biblical hope today and know beyond any reasonable doubt that I am standing on a firm foundation. I’ll even debate it!

“The church has utterly failed to present a defense of the truth of the Bible. And when such facts are pointed out to pastors, there is an unending list of excuses to ignore the problem. Speaking especially to pastors, apologetic should be higher on your agenda than your seminary probably taught you it should be!”

Sadly, many Christians have a reluctance to reexamine their views. Many so-called Christians are content with reinforcing erroneous teachings just to “go along with the crowd”. That’s a sad position for a Believer to be in. This is equivalent to the “ecclesiastical tyranny” and “crowd psychology” that Charles Meek mentioned in his book.

The question every Christian must both ask themself and answer is: “Are you ready to listen to what God’s Word teaches?”.
“Christian Hope through Fulfilled Prophecy” starts at a great point- in 1st century Jerusalem. The failure of modern Christians to understand the Scriptures in their historical context has by and large led to a confused gospel message. I have reiterated again and again as I preach before The Blue Point Bible Church (http://www.bluepointbiblechurch.org) that we MUST understand the story of ancient Israel.

As a Preterist many of my Facebook friends have seen my continual harping on the importance of AD 70.

“When Israel ceased to be a nation and the temple was demolished in AD 70, these events fulfilled what Jesus said would happen in His generation (Matthew 24:2; Mark 13:2; Luke 19;44; Luke 21:6)”. Understanding these events, what is called the Roman-Jewish War, enables us to understand “redemptive history”. Yes, YOUR REDEMPTION!

Many Christians will continually speak about the importance of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ but sadly exclude the destruction of the temple in AD 70.

“While the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ ushered in the New Covenant order, it was the destruction of the temple (which ended the system of sacrifices for sin nearly forty years later) that formerly ushered out the Old Covenant order”.

Do you understand the teachings and implication of Full Preterism? If not, there are various websites, articles, sermons that you can go to. A site that I personally run and am developing is http://www.christhascome.org . Another great resource is http://www.thefulfilledconnection.com.

Many Bible teachers and pastors have lost their “ministry opportunities” due to their willingness to be honest with the Bible . Charles Meek rightly says, “God calls us to embrace truth no matter what”. Charles Meek also argues this point:

“This problem is not trivial. Everything we know about Jesus and His teachings comes from the Bible. It is not our prerogative as Christians to ignore the Biblical evidence , and invent a Jesus to suit ourselves. That would be idolatry. We cannot legitamately manufacture our hope from a false set of assumptions; we are limited to understanding Jesus and His teachings as presented in the Bible. Just as importantly, we must not present an unreliable Jesus to the world”.

Recently at THE POWER OF PRETERISM CONFERENCE that was held at The Blue Point Bible Church in Blue Point, New York – Bible teacher Joe Daniels, Apostle Johnny Ova, Dr. Don K. Preston, and myself all made the point that Preterism advances the teachings of Jesus and to say otherwise diminishes the Biblical hope, the reliability of Jesus’ teachings, the Deity of Christ, and the apologetics of Christianity.

Many a times I am asked- ‘Why don’t people plain and simply see the truth of Full Preterism?’. I believe the need for Biblical education in regards to fulfillment is in order. Not only in matters pertaining to eschatological events but instead in regards to Biblical History, Church History, Biblical Hebrew & Greek, Soteriology, Christology, Ministry Leadership, and Life Application/ Discipleship. I endeavor to start a basic style seminary in the near future- Learning Institute of Fulfilled Eschatology (L.I.F.E.) with a creative focus on development, reformation and networking.

Charles Meeks provides an introduction in hemeneutics in Chapter 2 of his book.

“We have built doctrines by picking and choosing the passages that fit our ideas and have ignored those passages that challenge us. We are really not interested in truth if it upsets our applecart. This has led to a shallow, lazy, distorted, and divisive Christianity”.

Mr. Meek is speaking in reference to “our extra Biblical presuppositions”, examining “wooden literalism” with a game of “twenty questions”, and provides an explanation of Principles of Biblical Interpretation.

Rene Deschartes, French philosopher and writer once said:
“If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things”.

Are you willing to be your ‘end times views’ under the microscope? Could you be wrong in your understanding? In chapter 3 of his book, Charles Meek provides an explanation of Different Views. Speaking about Futurism ( and the variety ofpremillennial, amilleniam, and postmillennial views), Historicism, idealism, preterism (and its’ underlying distinctions of premillenial and post millenial preterism.)

In examining what the Bible ACTUALLY SAYS about the “time of the end” one will realize:
“Eschatology is not about the end of the “world”, but rather its a rebirth instituted by Jesus in the New Covenant order”.
It is the Preterist View that:

“We are of the studied opinion that the “Second Coming” of Christ was not to be a physical body appearance on earth, but rather a coming in judgment against the unbelieving Jews who perverted God’s commandments and rejected Jesus and His Church”.
Also the point could be proven that, “…many Christians also think that the tribulation will be a global event. But notice that Jesus said that one could avoid the tribulation by fleeing to the mountains (Luke 21:21)”.

Many ‘Christians’ have misunderstood the phraseology and idiomatic expresses used by Jesus and those writing in the first century. For example, Charles Meek accounts:

“Peter’s prophecy in 2 Peter 3 was a reiteration of Isaiah 24. In that chapter, Isaiah spoke of a time when the sun and the moon (the heavens) would be confounded and ashamed (Isaiah 24:23) and when the earth would be burnded, broken down, dissolved, and would fade away (Isaiah 24:4-6, 19-20). Isaiah was speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem (Isaiah 24:12)”.

Sadly many within the Church have clung to a neo-Gnostic understanding of what the gospel message is about (mislabeling the ‘elements’ coming under judgment- Romans chapter 8 & 2 Peter 3:10). Quite frankly the message is about freedom from the Old Covenant- described as “the law of sin and death (Romans chapter 8). Understanding this freedom by reading through Galatians chapters 3-5 and Colossians chapter 2.

A great read concerning the confusion regarding the transition of Covenants and ‘the Coming of the Lord” is ‘Behind the Veil of Moses’ by Brian Martin. In the book, Mr. Martin makes a great case for the fact that the confusion regarding the “2nd Coming” of Christ is equivalent to the confusion regarding the first coming. The Jews rejected Christ’s coming because He did not come according to their expectations, the same with John the Baptist as “the Elijah to come”.

“2 Kings 2:11-12 relates the manner in which Elijah went up into heaven. He ascended on a chariot of fire. The Jews thought that Elijah might well return to earth in exactly the same manner that he ascended on a chariot of fire. But in Matthew 11:13-15; Matthew 17:10-13; and Mark 9:11-13 Jesus identifies John the Baptist as the expected Elijah!”

Sadly today many will provide gimmicks, gaps, and so forth to defend their erroneous views. In his book, Charles Meek deals with the way those who adhere to “partial fulfillment” – “divide the text”, “pick and choose”, fabricate a foreign concept of “types and shadows”, “separate questions”, and completely avoid “audience relevance”.

“It is impossible to read the Olivet Discourse and fail to perceive its distinct reference to the period of our Lord’s crucifixion and the destruction of Jerusalem. Every word is spoken to the disciples, and to them alone. To imagine that the “you” in this address applies, not to the disciples to whom Christ was speaking, but to some unknown and yet non-existent persons in a far distant age, is so preposterous a supposition as to not deserve serious notice”.

With that in mind…Go and read Matthew 16:25-28. What does the text imply? Do you believe in the words of Jesus Christ?
The humility expressed through Christian Hope through Fulfilled Prophecy is astounding. Mr. Meek provides information on the millennium, the new heavens and new earth, resurrection, among other things.

I did have a question about this statement since it seems that Mr. Meek adds a ‘futuristic idea’ that is not present throughout Scripture:
“Jerusalem was judged in the first century for her historic crimes (See, Matthew chapter 23). There is no reason to believe she (harlot Jerusalem) will never be judged again for those crimes”.

Also, many critics of Full Preterism constantly refer to “the resurrection of the dead” and ask for a “better explanation” than that which is being given. This has been done again and again by many leaders within Full Preterism. I would refer people to read through Dr. Don K. Preston’s stuff…. also, soon enough I will have the video files from THE POWER OF PRETERISM CONFERENCE wherein Dr.

Preston presented an awesome teaching regarding the resurrection.
“Futurists often argue that because Christ rose physically, so must we. That notion is as false as saying that because Christ was literally crucified, we must also be literally crucified (Galatians 2:20) in order to have eternal life”.

The proper understanding of “…resurrection is recovery of relational death between man and God that stood since the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:7, 15; 2 Corinthians 5:1-3)”.

I did notice that Mr. Meek put “bodies” in plural form in many places that I would advocate a necessary ‘corporate’ understanding. Within Full Preterism there is the CBV (Corporate Body View) and IBD (Individual Body at Death view) debate and I have failed to see a proper explanation of IBD. It seems that Mr. Meek advocates a merger of sorts that I have in the past spoke about with other leaders within Full Preterism. Honestly, I don’t see it. Mr. Meek mentioned you can find this individual body reference throughout Scripture. Please provide.

Recently, I was involved in a public debate regarding the difference between a future second coming of Jesus and Preterism. You can view that here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNXL-4nl3zs

During that debate, Pastor Bruce Bennett seemed to be quite obsessed with the physical body of Jesus. Mr. Meek provides a simple explanation:

“At some point Christ must have changed- probably at the ascension. After His ascension, Jesus appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus in a manner that Paul could see a light and hear the voice of Jesus , but neither he nor his companions actually saw Jesus in physical form (Acts 9:3-9; Acts 22:6-11; Acts 26:12-19 cf. John 17:5; Hebrews 5:7)”.

Also, another area that I have been pretty passionate about that Mr. Meek mentioned was:

“There is evidence that the concept of the immortality of the soul, as understood by many Christians, my be more from Greek thought than from the Bible”.

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To me it’s rather simple. In John 3:16, “eternal life” is offered to those who believe in Jesus Christ in contrast to “perish” not some odd view of eternal torment. This postulates the view of Conditional Immortality. Think about it….if someone dies and goes to hell for eternity- doesn’t that mean they are living eternally in hell?

“Some Christian scholars are convinced from a comprehensive analysis of the Bible that hell is not, in fact, a place of eternal conscious punishment as is the standard view. Gehenna, the Greek word rendered ‘hell’ in English, was an actual place outside of Jerusalem where waste was deposited and burned. So, some argue that Jesus used gehenna/hell as a metaphor for the total destruction of annihilation of the damned, rather than a place of eternal conscious punishment”.

I debated this topic in October 2013, you can view it here http://vimeo.com/88656535. (Sorry the sound quality isn’t all that great). You can read more about this by visiting the following link:
http://www.rethinkinghell.com/

Another issue that I have dealt with in debate and Mr. Meek brings up in his book is understanding the “old order” and all it’s “tears, mourning, and death” characteristics and how ATONEMENT was understood by those under that ‘order’. Here are some details from his book:

“Jesus appeared at His First Advent to put away/ remove sin (Hebrews 9:26 cf. Daniel 9:24-27; Matthew 1:21; John 1:29; Acts 5:31; Romans 6:1-14; Colossians 1:22; Titus 2:14; Hebrews 1:3; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 John 3:5; Revelation 1:5), and to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). DID JESUS FAIL?”.

“Concerning death, the Bible says that Jesus destroyed/ abolished death (2 Timothy 1:10 cf. Romans 6:23; Hebrews 2:14-15). DID HE FAIL?”

So I ask, “How much you your expectation of restoration is based on assumption or wishful thinking, rather than Scripture?”

HOW HAVE WE GOTTEN TO THIS POINT?

WHY HAS THE CHURCH FAILED TO CORRECT THIS ERROR?

“We can track the various eschatological views down through the ages; unlike other doctrinal issues we see no formal discussions of eschatology within the Church”.

“Preterists are at the forefront today of the call for a serious and open debate on the Biblical “last things”.

So, I imagine if you have read this far you now realize that you must examine this thing called FULL PRETERISM. Heed the words of St. Augustine:

“If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel that you believe, but yourself”.

Before you go over to http://www.ChristHASCome.org, here are some basic details about Full Preterism.

“We strongly suggest that any eschatology that denies a plain literal interpretation of the New Testament time-texts, has adopted an overly elastic and, frankly, unscriptural position that damages the Bible’s integrity”.

“The good news is that the days are over for even brilliant scholars to to easily escape legitamate challenges; the pace of modern communications is turning the tide toward truly open debate. The resultis the SURGING PRETERIST CHALLENGE TO ESCHATOLOGY”.

“Covenant eschatology solidifies our understanding of the gospel and unifies the message of Scripture. The preterist view reveals the immensity of Christ’s victory”.

“And while it is the minority view in the Church today, it seems to be the fastest growing view”.

“…preterist eschatology is optimistic, beautifully consistent, and faithful to Scripture”.

I love the words of Edward Hassert here:

“Preterism is a theology that can bring answers for those who are sick, dying, struggling with faith, oppressed, addicted , and even living in sin. In fact preterism provides the only real answer to these problems since it is the only theology that addresses the whole of Scripture, believing the Word of God for what it actually says instead of for what men have claimed it has said in the past…True faith is realizing the fulfilled hope we have to live in today, in this moment, instead of some escape clause for the future”.

I end on this note. Let is be said, as Soren Kierkegaard once said:

“There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true”

I can promise you that when you consider the Biblical evidence for the truth of Full Preterism with ‘intellectual honesty’, you will see that the belief in a yet future ‘second coming’ of Jesus is a serious error and makes as much sense as saying- “Don’t confuse me with the facts”.

“The modern church is an embarrasment to Biblical Christianity, and is too often a stumbling block to seekers. These things must change, and perhaps are beginning to change. We sense that young people especially, at least those that have not left the church for good and still give a whit, are fed up with questionable doctrines and practices in the church”.

Let us pray,

“Who has a heart hardened by biases and preconceptions, Lord? Is it I? Show me the blind spot in my own eye, Lord! Give me the fortitude to deal with error that I might hold. Give me a passion for Biblical Truth. May I not be satisfied with the status quo. And give me the courage to speak up, even among my peers”. Amen.

Blessings in and through Jesus Christ,
Pastor Michael Miano

The Blue Point Bible Church (http://www.bluepointbiblechurch.org

Get your copy of ‘Christian Hope through Fulfilled Prophecy’ at:
http://www.amazon.com/Christian-Hope-through-Fulfilled-Prophecy/dp/0615705901/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1370636529&sr=8-1&keywords=christian+hope+through+fulfilled+prophecy

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Leaving 13’ and enter 2014 (Year of Completeness)

 Wheww…what a year. Well, it’s time to catalogue the year. I cannot begin to tell you how I looked forward to ending the year and actually sitting down to write this blog and get some clarity concerning 2013 and move forward into 2014. So here I sit, a glass of Merlot in hand…. 

 As I just say here reviewing my years past resolution blogs, I realized something pretty darn interesting. The beginning of 2013 was a busy year complete with getting married, preparing for my debate with Sam Frost, and contemplating a serious move- to pastor the Blue Point Bible Church. With all of that going on…I failed to write a blog to catalogue the year. Yikes! That might just explain some things…Can we sense God’s providence in that? 

So yes indeed, I will make sure to write these blogs yearly and again so glad I am sitting here writing now. So let’s get into it.

 My debate with Sam Frost was interesting in the least. Sam seemed not to have much clarity on his newfound position in reverting back to ‘futurism’ and therefore it felt like I had to try and chase him in ‘theological circles’. You can watch the debate for yourself by following the following link:

                         http://vimeo.com/ondemand/preterism

 That was exciting though. Following the link below you can read my direct response post-conference:

         https://www.facebook.com/notes/michael-miano/a-heart-felt-response 10151392255551210

   So, after the conference I was invited to speak at The Blue Point Bible Church to see if I might be a good fit as pastor for the congregation there. I’ll tell you…it was such a blessing to visit and meet like-minded believers who adhere to the proper doctrine of Full Preterism. Those of you who have dealt with the naysayers of Full Preterism or have followed me in my journey since my transition to “fulfillment” would know how much of a paradigm shift it was to be around Believers who didn’t have security escort me off the property when I dared to mention a Bible verse. 

  If this doesn’t seem like a busy year {and we are only at the beginning of February 2013}, sure enough Quanti and I were planning a wedding for the end of February. Indeed, all the stress, love, giddy feelings, and so forth found its completion on February 24th. Surely, this was a blessed day, as Quanti and I shared our prayerful thoughts and concerns to love one another through sickness and health. 

   March was filled with excitement as it was honeymoon time, Mike and Q’s birthdays, and sure enough the Blue Point Bible Church voted me in as pastor. The plans to move began and sure enough in April we arrived. 

    Can you feel the pressure yet? Only four months into the new year and a lot is sure happening. I am known for being pretty intense- always busy, always on the move, always focused on millions of things at once…but I think it is safe to admit at this point, maybe this will come as a surprise- I am still human. There were some strains happening all at once- my spiritual life, my marital life, and my sanity- but I felt called by God and was surely not going to displease Him and not walk worthy of my calling. 

  The loving and amazingly honest and truth-seeking congregation at Blue Point Bible Church put me, and has continued to keep me, in awe. God was and is doing an amazing work right in front of my eyes. So…I got right to work. I was a man with a plan. 

 Sadly, as many of you know…Quanti and I did not maintain all that led us to become married. We had issues, I’m sure we are not alone, and through discussion, prayer, and honest discernment it was realized this marriage would not work. There were and are some irreconcilable differences. To be forthright, from July 13’ onward- this has causes me pain, confusion, and many other mixed emotions regarding my calling, my God, my personality and willingness to commit, and many other personal details. So let’s be clear…this morning when I logged online and read a blog detailing “The Full Preterist Movement” and the following mention of me was made- I was seriously ticked off yet remained ‘optimistic’ and focused regarding all that I know God is doing and will do.

 “Miano was promising but after his relationship issues I’m not certain we can consider he will be very effective. What does that have to do with anything you ask? Well, in most mainline Christian denominations, a divorced pastor would be forced to resign. (see 1 Tim 3:5)  I’m not trying to be mean or rude to Miano, I actually like the guy and think he tries to be sincere but he may need some time to regroup”.  

  You can read the entire blog here:

                          http://unpreteriststalkerroderickedwards.wordpress.com/2014/01/01/the-idiot-speaks-about-me-again/

   While I appreciate Roderick Edward’s nice words, I do believe he spoke out of order. I pastor a ‘congregational vote’ church wherein the congregation leads major moves and decisions by vote, so there is no “big shot” like many “mainline denominations”. It was a decent attempt, but all the more an attempt to attack Preterism. Go ahead and read his entire blog site. Regarding the mention of 1 Timothy 3:5:

      “He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity 5(but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?)..”. 

  As if Roderick knows anything about the matter?!?! I most definitely agree with the charge in 1 Timothy and believe it is important to notice how a man is leading his life, his family, and so forth as qualification to lead the congregation. Well…come on down to Blue Point Bible Church, or ask around, and find out how Pastor Michael Miano “takes care of the church of God” and how I live a life emitting the glory of Christ {with my imperfections and all}. 

 I hope I have given you all some clarity in those matters, quite possibly more than is required. I have sought God in prayer, have honestly critiqued myself, offered myself to other men of God for evaluation, “counseling” and guidance, and sought to serve the congregation I lead with all that I have. ‘Judge a tree by the fruit it bears’. 

 In October I had the privilege of debating Bishop Erskine Williams regarding the topic of “Hell” as I presented the viewpoint of ‘Annihilationism’ at the Sound of Heaven Church in Deer Park, New York. Hopefully, that debate will be online in the very near future. 

 I have had the privilege Sunday after Sunday to preach before as I mentioned before a “truth-seeking” congregation, and we have had some interesting series- I encourage you to check them out by going to the following link:

                                                                       http://www.buzzsprout.com/11630

  Now… here’s some exciting news. Truth will continue and unlike the blog I posted above by the naysayer, Roderick Edwards, concerning the forward movement of Full Preterism, I have some Truth and excitement to share. 

  On January 24-26th, 2014, “The Power of Preterism” conference will be held at The Blue Point Bible Church. We speakers such as Dr. Don K. Preston, Jerry Bowers Jr., Joe Daniels, Apostle Johnny Ova, Derek Lambert, Pastor Steven Schilling, and more coming with messages to encourage and excite those of us who adhere to Biblical truth. Also, I will be debating partial preterist pastor, Bruce Bennett, regarding ‘The Second Coming of Jesus Christ’.  2014 is bound to be a year packed with POWER!!

                                                                  CHRISTHASCOME.ORG 

   I have so much more to share regarding prayerful thoughts, goals, ideas, and so forth regarding 2014, but to produce a blog not a book, I will cut this short and leave you with the exhortation to keep an eye out for a blog detailing those things…

  If you have questions, concerns, or comments please email me at Christianitygonewild@yahoo.com 

        Blessings in Christ,

           Pastor Michael Miano

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A Review of JESUS: A THEOGRAPHY

As of the last couple weeks I finished reading, Jesus: A Theography written by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola. You can order the book at this link:

http://www.amazon.com/Jesus-A-Theography-Leonard-Sweet-ebook/dp/B0078FA9OW

Being honest, I did not purchase the book. I was browsing the ‘Christian section’ at the local community library and the book stuck out. We just finished going through a series called “The FULFILLED Work of Christ” at the Blue Point Bible Church and I figured why not read a ‘big book’ about Jesus…I am glad I decided to read it.

(You can listen to all series preached at The Blue Point Bible Church by going to this link: http://www.buzzsprout.com/11630)

I loved the explanation and opening of the book in which Sweet & Viola shared insights and quotes about the importance of seeing the narrative being told through the Old and New Testaments. (A proper understanding that is vital for a true and reasonable expression of the gospel). Sadly, I have heard way too many times just this year- “Oh, that’s Old Testament”. Here are some important quotes from the book:

“One of the best ways to look at the twenty-seven books of the New Testament may be to see them as a commentary on the Old Testament. The entire Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, are unified by a common narrative. And once our eyes are opened to see that narrative, everything in both testaments gel into a coherent, understandable, and amazing story”.

“The Bible didn’t emerge out of a vacuum. It is a historical but also methaphorical and narrative story of truth written within history. Thus, history matters in our interpretation of the Biblical text. At the same time, the Bible is a collection of writings that are tied together by a common theme. Therefore, the interweaving of both testaments also matters in our interpretation of the Biblical text”.

I utilized those quotes in the summing up of my sermon series. I like that Martin Luther was quoted, “Scripture is the cradle in which Christ lies” and this quote from Scott McKnight clearly shows the importance of understanding the narrative of the gospel:

“We have to become a People of the Story…we need to immerse ourselves even more into the story of Jesus. The gospel is that the story of Israel comes to its definative completeness in the story of Jesus, and this means we have to become People of the Story-that-is-complete-in-Jesus”.

Sadly, the point I made above about the failure of many Christians to understand the Old Testament, or even worse believe it to be non-essential in understanding the gospel message has led to the acceptance of a foreign gospel. I wrote a blog detailing this “foreign gospel” at the beginning of 2013

https://mianogonewild.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/captivated-by-a-foreign-gospel/

As expressed in Sweet and Viola’s book:

“In many Christians’ minds, the Old and New Testaments are two seperate entities. Melito (second century) and Tertullian (third century) were the first to call the two halves of the Bible the Old Testament and the New Testament”.

As we seek to understand the Scriptures we see Jesus and the Apostles constantly pointing back to the Old.

“…but the Scriptures point to me”. , “according to the Scriptures”, “…that the Scriptures might be fulfilled”, “…in all the Scriptures”.

Simply put…the New Testament isn’t a new message. Instead, the New Testament details the continuation and end of the Old. Thank God for the rise in understanding Covenant Creation and Covenant Eschatology.

Moving on, I must say I did glean some interesting insights from the book. Speaking of the literary form and parallels seen throughout the Scriptures, Sweet and Viola brought up some good points. For example,

The relationship between Genesis chapter 1 and John chapter 1. This is dealt with in Beyond Creation Science by Tim Martin & Jeff Vaughn.
Consider that DAY ONE was without form and void, yet it also symbolizes the world that Christ was born into. DAY TWO was the separation between heaven and land, illustrating the death of Christ which sent Him back to the heavens and cut Him off from the land of the living. DAY THREE dry land appeared on the face on the earth, Christ had risen! DAY FOUR the heavenlies were created- sun, moon, stars- also referencing Christ’s ascension (see, Genesis 1:14 cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:5). DAY FIVE God created life with a consciousness, what some might call “the higher life” which typifies the “higher life” found by the indwelling of Christ through the Spirit. DAY SIX man is given the order to ‘name all things’ thus symbolizing the rule of Christ- His kingdom! DAY SEVEN the beloved sabbath represents His rest which through understanding ‘covenants’ we see His rest as the arrival of the New Heavens and New Earth (i.e., the New Covenant, see Hebrews chapter 4).

An aspect I found intriguing was the mention of the EIGHTH DAY. On DAY EIGHT, after the completed “7”, Israelite males were circumcised on the eigth day, first born sons were devoted to God on the 8th day, there were 8 souls saved on the ark- in an effort to create a ‘new earth’, and Jesus rose on the 8th day. The first day of the new week is the 8th day.

Another parallel that was followed in the book was very similar to ‘covenant creation’. Adam was told to cultivate (Hebrew- ‘Shamar’) the garden in Genesis 2:15, just as a priest would cultivate the tabernacle in Numbers 3:7-8. Also, God walked (Hebrew- ‘Hawlak”) in the midst of the garden in Genesis 3:8 and sure enough Dueteronomy 23:14 & 2 Samuel 7:6, God walked in the midst of the tabernacle. The garden faced east (Ezekiel 2:8; 3:24) and the temple faced east (Exodus 27:9-18; Numbers 2:1-34; Ezekiel 40:6). The garden was on a mountain (Ezekiel 28:13-16) and the temple was on a mountain (Exodus 15:17; 2 Chronicles 3:1; and Revelation 21:10).

Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola did a great work with this ‘Theography’. It surely inspired me to go back to the text and look at the parallel’s and read through the Scriptures with renewed interest- seeing Christ in many areas. I love that they mentioned:

“To study the Scriptures is to be a “keeper of the garden”.

The rise of Full Preterism is surely showing how we must understand the Scriptures in their proper context- not only the proper historical context, but also the interpretive context pointing to Jesus Christ. It was noted that, “Scholars have made the mistake of not identifying Jesus in terms of the Judaism of His day”. In the FP world we would refer to this as ‘audience relevance’, and N.T. Wright said it quite well:

“If we don’t make the effort to do this reconstruction, we will, without a shadow of a doubt, assume that what Jesus did and said makes the sense it might have made in some other context-perhaps our own….we shall simply squash Jesus into the little boxes of our own imaginations rather than seeing Him as He was”.

John Ratzinger has also said:

‘If you want to undersand the Scripture in the spirit in which it is written, you have to attend to the content and to the unity of the scripture as a whole”.

To finalize this blog, let it be said and understand as Watchman Nee has said:

“The Christian faith begins not with a big do but with a big done”.

The ‘healing of the nations’ is done by understanding that “The church, therefore, is the means by which Jesus Christ continues to work, to teach, and to establish His sovereign rule in the world”.

Sadly, the passing off of a false gospel time and time again has confused the role of the Church in the world today. Sweet and Viola noted that it is “the need of each generation to “wash the face of Jesus”…Each generation has ‘dirtied” Jesus’ face by various accommodations and accretions. Suceeding generations need to rediscover His beauty and let it be seen in them by “face washing”.

Amen! Reformation NOW!

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The Devil; Who? Name that Satan! (Part 4)

In the last article I breezed through all the “Gospel” references dealing with “the devil” and “the Satan”. In this article we will continue into the other New Testament writings to see if they might shed any “new” light on this topic.

Something to keep in mind is that up until this point we have yet to see any Scriptural evidence that points to “the devil” or “the Satan” as to being an angelic being, instead we see individuals and circumstances that are set up against the things of God, referred to as such.

In Acts chapter 5 we read the account of Ananias and Sapphira, who lied to the Holy Spirit by keeping back some of their property as all things were being given to the church. Simon Peter says,:

“Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back some of the price of the land”.

All we have to do is keep reading to see how “Satan filled” Ananias’ heart. In verse 4, Simon Peter continues:

“…Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart..”.

Remember the way sin works according to Joshua chapter 8 and James chapter 1? The “lusts of the flesh” is what causes Ananias to lie, not some angelic being.

In Acts 26:15-18, we read of Paul giving his testimony of his calling before KIng Agrippa. The Apostle Paul says the following:
“And I say, “Who are You, Lord?” And the Lord said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things which I will appear to you; rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the DOMINION OF SATAN TO GOD, and that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me”.

So in reading this we must question, what exactly is ‘the dominion of Satan’? Obviously the text alludes it to darkness. Were the gentiles in some otherworldly kingdom ruled by an evil angel? I would posit- not so! Instead, the Gentiles were in darkness or we might say ignorance regarding the truth and covenant relationship with God. As Ephesians 4:17 says, they wandered about in the futility of their minds. So…clearly it isn’t much of a “stretch” to say the ‘dominion of Satan’ is something to do with the mind in darkness. No need for an “ethereal boogey man” (to borrow a term from Jerry Bowers Jr.).

In Romans 16:20, the Apostle Paul gives the following encouraging exhortation to the church at Rome:

“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet”.

Do you suppose this text means that God will literally use the members of the church at Rome to crush an angel? I sure hope not. Instead what we read is a metaphoric encouragement regarding the defeat of Satan. The word “soon” also brings a topic of timing, since this letter was written in or around AD 57- was “the Satan” crushed under the feet of the church at Rome? A simply yes or no will suffice.

The church at Corinth was known for its many issues regarding immortality, confusion, and attitudes against those deemed ‘fruitful’. In 1 Corinthians 5:1-5, the Apostle Paul is rebuking the acts of a member of the church at Corinth.

“It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his fathers wife. You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst. For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who committed this, as though I was present. In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus”.

As I read this I am led to the understanding that the Apostle Paul is admonishing the church at Corinth to remove this man from their midst, ‘excommunicate him’ or as Romans chapter one would put it- give him over to a depraved mind cut off from the fellowship of the Spirit, in an effort that he would repent. I don’t know a single soul that would argue that the Apostle Paul is saying this man is being given over to some angelic being….come on people!

In 1 Corinthians chapter 7 we have the Apostle Paul giving an exhortation regarding marriage. In verse 5 he says the following:
“Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control”.

It’s time for an honest look at the details of this passage. Is it some evil angelic being that tempts the man or woman to stray outside of marital fidelity? If you are trying to use that argument, it is time you take some responsibility. No need for the blame game, you must demonstrate self-control and not allow your mind to wander. That is why the Apostle Paul is giving this antidote here in 1 Corinthians chapter 7. The Satan here is the selfish carnal mind set on its own needs without the welfare of their marriage partner in mind and can clearly be warded off with communication and agreement in marriage.

We see a similar though in 2 Corinthians 2:10-11:

“But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sake in the presence of Christ, so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes”.

I would urge the reading to go back to the beginning of 2 Corinthians chapter 2 and read from there. Apparently someone had committed an offense causing the Apostle Paul sorrow and grieving the church. It seems to me this could be the person we learned about in 1 Corinthians (him who the Apostle had said to deliver over to Satan). It seems here that “the Satan” is a divisive force. The Apostle Paul is making sure it is clear that just as they at the church in Corinth have forgiven this person so has he, so “the adversary” would not have opportunity to take advantage and cause division. Could this adversary be the judizers who are just waiting to wreak havoc on the church? or maybe this adversary is the mind of the man that is not properly restored will set him at odds with the church and the faith? I must say, I surely don’t read an evil angelic being into this text at all and if you do it is exactly that…you reading it into the text.

So what are the schemes of ‘the Satan’? I would say lies, deceit, division, ‘works of the flesh’, and anything that goes against the health and growth of the things of God 9 (i.e.- the kingdom of God versus the dominion of Satan (the mind set against the things of God, think of Simon Peter being called Satan).

Now we will discuss a passage that seems to cause confusion for many. In 2 Corinthians 11:10- 15:

“As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be stopped in the regions of Achaia. Why because I do not love you? God knows I do. But what I am doing I will continue to do, so that I may cut off opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the matter about which they are boasting. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light”.

It is important to clarify that the word for angel in Hebrew is ‘mal’ak’ simply meaning messenger and the same for the Greek ‘angelos’. It is our presuppositions about the term that turn it into some Spiritual entity floating in the clouds. This text in speaking about “the Satan” is simply reminder the audience that just as there are those claiming to be apostles who are not, “the Satan” disguises himself as a messenger of light. The following website does a great deal in working with this passage:

http://imaginenosatan.com/Volume%204/4-52.html

In 2 Corinthians 12:7, the Apostle Paul speaks about a “weakness” that he suffers from in effort to keep him from exaulting himself. He calls this “weakness” a “thorn in the flesh” and a “messenger of Satan”. Again, it is important to recognize that “the Satan” simply means “the adversary”. It remains unknown what exactly this “weakness” was…but I see no point in thinking this reference has anything to do with some ethereal being tormenting the Apostle Paul.

In 1 Thessalonians 2:17-18, the Apostle Paul is explaining to those at the church in Thessalonica that while he is not with them for a short while, he is with them in Spirit. In verse 18, the apostle blames ‘the Satan’ for hindering him coming to Thessalonica. Do you suppose it was some evil angelic being or was it the Judizers or the fact that He was being held in prison that kept him from going to visit the Thessalonians?

In 2 Thessalonians 2:7-9, the Apostle Paul is telling the church at Thessalonica that “the lawless one” is soon to be revealed and his coming is in “accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders”. This is speaking about rulers and leaders within the Jewish and Roman governments who continued to decieve and persecute those who desired to follow the truth, Jesus Christ.

In a similar attitude of 1 Corinthians chapter 5, in 1 Timothy 1:20, the Apostle Paul is speaking in reference to the false teachers, Hymenaus and Alexander, whom he decided to hand over to “the Satan” so they will be taught not to blaspheme. Clearly, just as in 1 Corinthians chapter 5, the Apostle Paul is speaking in reference to excommunicating them.

In 1 Timothy 5:14-15, the Apostle Paul is giving instruction for younger widows to get married, bear children, and to live in the customs of the day not to give the ‘adversary’ of the faith being expressed in and through the Messiah. As the apostle continues his admonishment he says, “for some have turned aside to follow Satan”. I don’t believe that any of the widows turned aside to follow some angelic being called “the Adversary”. Why must this be some ethereal other world that worship of it hardly found at all? Instead I recommend considering returning to the old system, Old Covenant, as a view in that time referred to as ‘following Satan’.

Before we begin our last references to the term “Satan” in the book of Revelation, might I just make the point that this book is written in such a symbolic, apocalyptic way that to read numerical values and spiritual designations is a bit ridiculous. Instead, we must arrive at the book of Revelation with a rudimentary understanding of the metaphors and so forth that are used in the writing (for example, how has “the Satan” been described up to this point? The metaphoric usage of ‘thousand’ in Scripture, Who is this “Babylon”? etc…).

In Revelation 2:9, the Apostle John tells the church at Smyrna that He knows of their tribulations and those who “say they are Jews, but are a synagogue of Satan”. This reminds me of 1 Timothy 5:14-15 wherein the Apostle Paul had spoke of those who were following Satan. I would posit that this synagogue was not understood nor being depicted in regards to some angelic being called “Satan”, instead the worship of false religion that was being done by the religious Jews who had rejected the Messiah (Jesus speaks about this in John chapter 8). (We also read of the “synagogue of Satan” in Revelation 3:9).

I find it especially interesting that in his exhortation to the church at Pergamum in Revelation 2:13 it is stated that wherever the church at Pergamum was- it had reference to “Satan’s throne”. A good historically reading would show that Pergamum was a center of false worship and therefore was truly the hub for adversity to the truth of God. Here is a link to find some information pertaining to this:

http://www.followtherabbi.com/journey/footsteps/where-satan-lives/

I’m more than pretty sure that this passage is not speaking in reference to some lone evil angel named “the Satan” whose throne was in Pergamum, nor where this angelic being lived. See how ridiculous this can get?

As we go into Revelation 2:24, we read about those in Thyatira who did not hold to the teaching of Jezebel as those “who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them”. It seems these “deep things’ were sexual immortality and eating things sacriced to idols. No need for this to mean the hosts of false spirituality being taught by so many people who “super-spiritualize” these things.

In Revelation 12:9 we read:

“And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan who decieves the whole world: he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him”.

I remember hearing about this as some war that happened in heaven before the world began. I admit this makes for good movies and imagination, but as I reminded you before we entered the book of Revelation this is highly symbolic and metaphorical. As I will be concluded this 4 part blog on the references to “the Satan”, I believe I have shown that “the Satan” is not some ethereal otherworld angelic being that is taunting mankind. Also, the devil is not either since the terms are used synonymously.

Whatever “the Satan” and “the devil’ reference we know at the end of Revelation we read that Satan was bound, then released…and later to be thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20;2, 7).

Well….that about sums up all the references to “the Satan” throughout the Bible. I have utilized intellectual honesty in regards to my research and truly sought out the matter. I still have no idea where one can come up with “the Satan” as an individual angelic being bent on evil. Sorry folks, the text just does not show it.

More to come…

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor Michael Miano

***Please email any thoughts and/or questions to Christianitygonewild@yahoo.com

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