David Chilton: Looking for New Heavens and a New Earth (1996)

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But a person at all familiar with the phraseology of the Old Testament Scriptures knows that the dissolution of the Mosaic Economy and the establishment of the Christian [Economy] is often spoken of as a removal of the old earth and heavens and the creation of the new earth and heavens.

Looking for New Heavens and a New Earth

By David Chilton, M.Div., Ph.D.

 A basic principle of the Reformation was the priesthood of all believers. Not only could sinners receive the merits of Jesus Christ directly, but they also weregiven the high and holy privilege to study the Bible directly. Private interpretation does not mean interpretive autonomy. Scripture must be used to interpretScripture. Nowhere is this principle more vividly illustrated than in a study of 2 Peter 3 and its language of a “new heaven and a new earth.”

According to St. Peter’s second epistle, Christ and the apostles had warned that apostasy would accelerate toward the end of the “last days” (2 Pet. 3:2-4; cf. Jude 17-19) – the forty-year period between Christ’s ascension and the destruction of the Old Covenant Temple in A.D. 70. [1]  He makes it clear that these latter-day “mockers” were Covenant apostates: familiar with Old Testament history and prophecy, they were Jews who had abandoned the Abrahamic Covenant by rejecting Christ. As Jesus had repeatedly warned (cf. Matt. 12:38-45; 16:1-4;23:29-39), upon this evil and perverse generation would come the great “Day of Judgment” foretold in the prophets, a “destruction of ungodly men” like that suffered by the wicked of Noah’s day (2 Pet.3:5-7).

Throughout His ministry Jesus drew this analogy (see Matthew 24:37-39 and Luke 17:26-27).  Just as God destroyed the “world” of the antediluvian era by the Flood, so would the “world” of first-century Israel be destroyed by fire in the fall of Jerusalem.

St. Peter describes this judgment as the destruction of “the present heavens and earth” (v. 7), making way for “new heavens and a new earth” (v. 10).  Because of what may be called the “collapsing-universe” terminology used in this passage, many have mistakenly assumed that St. Peter is speaking of the final end of the physical heaven and earth, rather than the dissolution of the Old Covenant world order.  The great seventeenth-century Puritan theologian John Owen answered this view by referring to the Bible’s very characteristic metaphorical usage of the terms heavens and earth, as in Isaiah’s description of the Mosaic Covenant:

But I am the LORD thy God, that divided the sea, whose waves roared:  The LORD of hosts is his name.  And I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people (Isa. 51:15 -16).

John Owen writes:

The time when the work here mentioned, of planting the heavens, and laying the foundation of the earth, was performed by God, was when he “divided the sea” (Isa. 51:15), and gave the law (v. 16), and said to Zion, “Thou art my people” – that is, when he took the children of Israel out of Egypt, and formed them in the wilderness into a church and state. Then he planted the heavens, and laid the foundation of the earth – made the new world; that is, brought forth order, and government, and beauty, from the confusion wherein before they were.  This is the planting of the heavens, and laying the foundation of the earth in the world.  And hence it is, that when mention is made of the destruction of a state and government, it is in that language that seems to set forth the end of the world.  So Isaiah 34:4; which is yet but the destruction of the state of Edom.  The like is also affirmed of the Roman empire, Revelation 6:14; which the Jews constantly affirmed to be intended by Edom in the prophets.  And in our Saviour Christ’s prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem, Matthew 24, he sets it out by expressions of the same importance.  It is evident then, that, in the prophetical idiom and manner of speech, by “heavens” and “earth,” the civil and religious state and combination of men in the world, and the men of them, are often understood.  So were the heavens and earth that world which was then destroyed by the flood. [2]

Another Old Testament text, among many that could be mentioned, is Jeremiah 4:23-31, which speaks of the imminent fall of Jerusalem (587 B.C.) in similar language of decreation:

I looked on the earth, and behold, it was formless and void; and to the heavens, and they had no light….For thus says the LORD, the whole land shall be a desolation [referring to the curse of Lev. 26:31-33; see its fulfillment in Matt.24:15!], yet I will not execute a complete destruction.  For this the earth shall mourn, and the heavens above be dark….

New Creation Language  

From the very beginning, God’s covenant with Israel had been expressed in terms of a new creation:  Moses described Israel’s salvation in the wilderness in terms of the Spirit of God hovering over a waste, just as in the original creation of heaven and earth (Deut. 32:10-11; cf. Gen. 1:2). [3]  In the Exodus, as at the original creation, God divided light and darkness (Ex. 14:20), divided the waters from the waters to bring forth the dry land (Ex. 14:21-22), and planted His people in His holy mountain (Ex. 15:17).  God’s miraculous formation of Israel was thus an image of Creation, a redemptive recapitulation of the making of heaven and earth. The Old Covenant order, in which the entire world was organized around the central sanctuary of the Jerusalem Temple, could quite appropriately be described, before its final dissolution, as “the present heavens and earth.”

The Mosaic Economy  

The 19th-century expositor John Brown wrote:

A person at all familiar with the phraseology of the Old Testament scriptures knows that the dissolution of the Mosaic economy, and the establishment of the Christian, is often spoken of as the removing of the old earth and heavens, and the creation of a new earth and heavens….The period of the close of the one dispensation, and the commencement of the other, is spoken of as ‘the last days’ and ‘the end of the world’; and is described as such a shaking of the earth and heavens, as should lead to the removal of the things which were shaken (Hag. 2:6; Heb. 12:26-27). [4]

Therefore, says Owen,

On this foundation I affirm that the heavens and earth here intended in this prophecy of Peter, the coming of the Lord, the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men, mentioned in the destruction of that heaven and earth, do all of them relate, not to the last and final judgment of the world, but to that utter desolation and destruction that was to be made of the Judaical church and state – i.e., the Fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. [5]

This interpretation is confirmed by St. Peter’s further information:  In this imminent “Day of the Lord” which was about to come upon the first-century world “like a thief” (cf. Matt. 24:42-43; I Thess. 5:2; Rev.3:3), “the elements will be destroyed with intense heat” (v. 10; cf. v. 12).

Elementary Principles  

What are these elements?  So-called “literalists” lightly and carelessly assume that the apostle is speaking about physics, using the term to mean atoms (or perhaps subatomic particles), the actual physical components of the universe.  What these “literalists” fail to recognize is that although the word elements (stoicheia) is used several times in the New Testament, it is never used in connection with the physical universe! (In this respect, the very misleading comments of the New Geneva Study Bible on this passage violate its own interpretive dictum that “Scripture interprets Scripture.”  For possible meanings of this term, it cites pagan Greek philosophers and astrologers – but never the Bible’s own use of the term!)  Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of New Testament Words observes that while in pagan literature the Greek word stoicheia is used in a number of different ways (referring to the “four elements” of the physical world, or to the “notes” on a musical scale, or to the “principles” of geometry or logic), the New Testament writers use the term “in a new way, describing the stoicheia as weak and beggarly.  In a transferred sense, the stoicheia are the things on which pre-Christian existence rests, especially in pre-Christian religion.  These things are impotent; they bring bondage instead of freedom.” [6]

Study notes for II Peter 3:10 from the New Geneva Study Bible; and MacArthur Study Bible Added by JEGjr

NGSB (p.1983)  elements.  Greek stoicheia, a term used for (a) the elements making up the world (according to the philosophers these were earth, air, fire, and water)…

MacArthur Study Bible (p.1959)   the heavens will pass away with a great noise.  The “heavens” refer to the physical universe.  The “great noise” connotes whistling or a crackling sound as of objects being consumed by flames.  God will incinerate the universe, probably in an atomic reaction that disintegrates all matter as we know it (vv.7, 11, 12, 13).  the elements will melt with fervent heat.  The “elements” are the atomic components into which matter is ultimately divisible, which make up the composition of all the created matter.  Peter means that the atoms, neutrons, protons, and electrons are all going to disintegrate (v.11).

Throughout the New Testament, the word “elements” (stoicheia) is always used in connection with the Old Covenant order.  St. Paul used the term in his stinging rebuke to the Galatian Christians who were tempted to forsake the freedom of the New Covenant for an Old Covenant-style legalism.  Describing Old Covenant rituals and ceremonies, he says “we were in bondage under the elements(stoicheia) of this world….How is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements (stoicheia), to which you desire again to be in bondage?  You observe days and months and seasons and years…” (Gal. 4:3, 9-10).  He warns the Colossians: “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the basic principles (stoicheia) of the world, and not according to Christ….Therefore, if you died with Christ to the basic principles (stoicheia) of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations – ‘Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle”‘ (Col. 2:8,20-21).

The writer to the Hebrews chided them:  “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elements (stoicheia) of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food” (Heb. 5:12).  In context, the writer to the Hebrews is clearly speaking of Old Covenant truths particularly since he connects it with the term oracles ofGod, an expression used elsewhere in the New Testament for the provisional, Old Covenant revelation (see Acts 7:38; Rom.3:2).  These citations from Galatians, Colossians, and Hebrews comprise all the other occurrences in the New Testament of that word “elements” (stoichea).  Not one refers to the “elements” of the physical world or universe; all are speaking of the “elements” of the Old Covenant system, which, as the apostles wrote just before the approaching destruction of the Old Covenant Temple in A.D. 70, was “becoming obsolete and growing old” and “ready to vanish away” (Heb.8:13).

St. Peter uses the same term in exactly the same way.  Throughout the Greek New Testament, the word elements (stoicheia) always means ethics, not physics; the foundational “elements” of a religious system that was doomed to pass away in a fiery judgment.

The Time Factor  

In fact, St. Peter was quite specific about the fact that he was not referring to an event thousands of years in their future, but to something that wasalready taking place:

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements(stoicheia) will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these thingsare being dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements (stoicheia) are being melted with fervent heat? (2 Pet. 3:10-12)

Contrary to the misleading renderings of translators blinded by their presuppositions, St. Peter insists that the dissolution of “the present heaven and earth” – the Old Covenant system with its obligatory rituals and bloody sacrifices – was already beginning to occur:  the “universe” of the Old Covenant was coming apart, never to be revived:

When did prophet and vision cease from Israel?  Was it not when Christ came, the Holy one of holies?  It is, in fact, a sign and notable proof of the coming of the Word that Jerusalem no longer stands, neither is prophet raised up, nor vision revealed among them.  And it is natural that it should be so, for when He that was signified had come, what need was there any longer of any to signify Him?  And when the Truth had come, what further need was there of the shadow?…And the kingdom of Jerusalem ceased at the same time, kings were to be anointed among them only until the Holy of holies had been anointed. [7]

St. Peter’s message, John Owen argues, is that:

…the heavens and earth that God himself planted – the sun, moon, and stars of the judaical polity and church – the whole old world of worship and worshippers, that stand out in their obstinancy against the Lord Christ – shall be sensibly dissolved and destroyed. [8]


[1]  For a defense of this position, see my Paradise Restored: A Biblical Theology of Dominion (Tyier,TX: Dominion Press, 1985), 112-22.  The fact is that every time Scripture uses the term “last days” (and similar expressions) it means, not the end of the physical universe, but the period from AD 30 to AD 70 – the period during which the Apostles were preaching and writing, the “last days” of Old Covenant Israel before it was forever destroyed in the destruction of the Temple (and consequently the annihilation of the Old Covenant sacrificial system). See Acts 2:16-21; I Tim. 4:1-3; 2 Tim. 3:1-9; Hebrews 1:1-2; 8:13; 9:26; James 5:7-9; I Peter 1:20;4:7; I John 2:18; Jude 17-19. See also Gary DeMar,Last Days Madness: The Obsession of the Modern Church (Atlanta, GA: American Vision, 1993).

[2] John Owen, “Providential Changes, An Argument for Universal Holiness,” in William H. Goold, ed., The Works of John Owen, 16 vols. (London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1965-68),9:134.

[3] See Chilton, Paradise Restored, 59.

[4] John Brown, Discourses and Sayings of Our Lord  (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, [1852] 1990), 1:171-72.

[5] Brown, Discourses and Sayings of Our Lord ,1:171-72.

[6] Gerhard Kittel and Gerhard Friedrich, eds.,Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (abridged in one volume), Geoffrey W. Bromiley, ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985), 1088.

[7] St. Athanasius, On the Incarnation of the Word of God (New York: Macmillan, 1946), [40] 61-62.8. Owen, “Providential Changes, An Argumentfor Universal Holiness,” 9: 135.

[8] Owen, “Providential Changes, An Argument for Universal Holiness,” 9: 135.


As we saw, Puritan theologian John Owen argued that the teaching of 2 Peter 3 about the coming “Day of the Lord” was not about the end of the physical universe, but of the Old Covenant and the nation of Israel.  He points out that the term “heavens and earth” are often used in the Old Testament as a symbolic expression for God’s covenantal creation, Israel (see Isa. 51:15-20; Jer. 4:23-31).  Owen writes: “the heavens and earth that God himself planted – the sun, moon, and stars of the judaical polity and church – the whole old world of worship and worshippers, that stand out in their obstinacy against the Lord Christ shall be sensibly dissolved and destroyed.” [1]

Owen offers two further reasons (“of many that might be insisted on from the text,” he says) for adopting the A.D. 70 interpretation of 2 Peter 3.  First, he observes, “whatever is here mentioned was to have its particular influence on the men of that generation.” [2]   That is a crucial point, which must be clearly recognized in any  honest assessment of the apostle’s meaning.  St. Peter is especially concerned that his first-century readers remember the apostolic warnings about “the last days” (vv. 2-3; cf. I Tim.4:1-6; 2 Tim. 3:1-9).  During these times, the Jewish scoffers of his day, clearly familiar with the Biblical prophecies of judgment, were refusing to heed those warnings (vv. 3-5).  He exhorts his readers to live holy lives in the light of this imminent judgment (vv. 11, 14); and it is these early Christians who are repeatedly mentioned as actively “looking for and hastening” the judgment (vv. 12, 13, 14).  It is precisely the nearness of the approaching conflagration that St. Peter cites as a motive to diligence in godly living!

An obvious objection to such an exposition is to refer to what is probably the most well-known, most-misunderstood text in St. Peter’s brief epistle: “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Pet. 3:8).  This means, it is said, that “God’s arithmetic is different from ours,” so that when Scripture uses terms like “near” and “shortly” (e.g., Rev. 1:1-3) or “at hand” (e.g., James 5:5-7), it doesn’t intend to give the impression of soon-approaching events, but of events possibly thousands of years in the future!

 Milton Terry refuted this seemingly plausible but spurious theory:

The language is a poetical citation from Psalm 90:4, and is adduced to show that the lapse of time does not invalidate the promises of God….But this is very different from saying that when the everlasting God promises something shortly, and declares that it is close at hand, He may mean that it is a thousand years in the future.  Whatever He has promised indefinitely He may take a thousand years or more to fulfill; but what He affirms to be at the door let no man declare to be far away. [3]

J. Stuart Russell wrote with biting disdain:

Few passages have suffered more from misconstruction than this, which has been made to speak a language inconsistent with its obvious intention, and even incompatible with a strict regard to veracity.      There is probably an allusion here to the words of the Psalmist, in which he contrasts the brevity of human life with the eternity of the divine existence….But surely it would be the height of absurdity to regard this sublime poetic image as a calculus for the divine measurement of time, or as giving us warrant for wholly disregarding definitions of time in the predictions and promises of God.

 Yet it is not unusual to quote these words as an argument or excuse for the total disregard for the element of time in the prophetic writings. Even in cases where a certain time is specified in the prediction, or where such limitations as ‘shortly,‘ or ‘speedily,‘ or ‘at hand‘ are expressed, the passage before us is appealed to in justification of an arbitrary treatment of such notes of time, so that soon may mean late, and near may mean distant, and short may mean long, and vice versa….

   It is surely unnecessary to repudiate in the strongest manner such a non-natural method of interpreting the language of Scripture.  It is worse than ungrammatical and unreasonable, it is immoral.  It is to suggest that God has two weights and measures in His dealings with men, and that in His mode of reckoning there is ambiguity and variableness which will make it impossible to tell ‘What manner of time the Spirit of Christ in the prophets may signify’ [cf. I Pet. 1:11]…

  The Scriptures themselves, however, give no countenance to such a method of interpretation.  Faithfulness is one of the attributes most frequently ascribed to the ‘covenant-keeping God,’ and the divine faithfulness is that which the apostle in this very passage affirms….The apostle does not say that when the Lord promises a thing for today He may not fullfil His promise for a thousand years:  that would be slackness; that would be a breach of promise. He does not say that because God is infinite and everlasting, therefore He reckons with a different arithmetic from ours, or speaks to us in double sense, or uses two different weights and measures in His dealings with mankind.  The very reverse is the truth….

 It is evident that the object of the apostle in this passage is to give his readers the strongest assurance that the impending catastrophe of the last days were on the very eve of fulfillment.  The veracity and faithfulness of God were the guarantees of the punctual performance of the promise.  To have intimated that time was a variable quantity in the promise of God would have been to stultify and neutralize his own teaching, which was that ‘the Lord is not slack concerning His promise.’ [4]

Continuing his analysis, John Owen cites verse 13: “But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.”  Owen asks: “What is that promise? Where may we find it?”  Good question.  Do you know the answer?  Where in the Old Testament does God promise a New Heaven and Earth?  Incidentally, this raises a wider, fascinating issue:  When the New Testament quotes or cites an Old Testament text, it’s often a good idea to hunt down the original context, see what it meant in its original context, and then see the “spin” the New Testament writer places on it.  (For example, Isaiah’s prophecy of a gigantic highway-construction project [Isa. 40:3-5] is not interpreted literally in the New Testament, but metaphorically, of the preaching ministry of John the Baptist [Luke 3:4-6].  And Isaiah’s prophecy of a “golden age” when the wolf dwells peaceably with the lamb [Isa. 11:1-10] is condensed and cited by St. Paul as a present fulfillment, in the New Covenant age  [Rom. 15:12]!)  But John Owen, this Puritan scholar, knows his Bible better than most of the rest of us, and he tells us exactly where the Old Testament foretells a “new heaven and earth”:

What is that promise?  Where may we find it?  Why, we have it in the very words and letter, Isaiah 65:17.  Now, when shall this be that God will create these “new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness”? Saith Peter, It shall be after the coming of the Lord, after that judgment and destruction of ungodly men, who obey not the gospel, that I foretell, But now it is evident, from this place of Isaiah, with chapter 66:21-22, that this is a prophecy of gospel times only; and that the planting of these new heavens is nothing but the creation of gospel ordinances, to endure forever.  The same thing is so expressed in Hebrews 12:26-28. [5]

Owen is right on target, asking the question that so many expositors fail to ask:  Where had God promised to bring “new heavens and a new earth”?  The answer, as Owen correctly states, is only in Isaiah 65 and 66 – passages which clearly prophesy the period of the Gospel, brought in by the work of Christ.  According to Isaiah himself, this “New Creation” cannot possibly be the eternal state, since it contains birth and death, building and planting (65:20-23).  The “new heavens and earth” promised to the Church comprise the age of the New Covenant – the Gospel’s triumph, when all mankind will come to bow down before the Lord (66: 22-23).  John L. Bray writes:  “This passage is a grand description of the gospel age after Christ came in judgment in 70 A.D. and took away the old heavens and the old earth.  We now have the new heavens and the new earth of the gospel age.” [6]  St. Peter’s encouragement to the Church of his day was to be patient, to wait for God’s judgment to destroy those who were persecuting the faith and impeding its progress.  “The end of all things is at hand,” he had written earlier (I Pet. 4:7).  John Brown commented:

“The end of all things” here is the entire end of the Jewish economy in the destruction of the temple and city of Jerusalem, and the dispersal of the holy people.  That was at hand; for this epistle seems to have been written a very short while before these events took place….It is quite plain that in our Lord’s predictions, the expressions “the end” and probably “the end of the world” are used in reference to the entire dissolution of the Jewish economy (cf. Matt.24:3, 6, 14, 34; Rom. 13:11-12; James 5:8-9). [7]

Once the Lord came to destroy the scaffolding of the Old Covenant structure, the New Covenant Temple would be left in its place, and the victorious march of the Church would be unstoppable.  According to God’s predestined design, the world will be converted; the earth’s treasures will be brought into the City of God, as the Paradise Mandate (Gen. 1:27-28; Matt. 28:18-20) is consummated (Rev. 21:1-27).

This is why the apostles constantly affirmed that the age of consummation had already been implemented by the resurrection and ascension of Christ, who poured out the Holy Spirit.  St. Paul, writing of the redeemed individual, says that “if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).  St. John, recording his vision says the same thing:  “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth….The first things have passed away….Behold, I am making all things new” (Rev. 21:1-5).  The writer to the Hebrews comforts his first-century readers with the assurance that they have already arrived at “the City of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Heb. 12:22; cf. Gal. 26-28; Rev. 21).  Even as the old “heaven and earth” were being shaken to rubble, the early Christians were “receiving a Kingdom which cannot be shaken,” the eternal Kingdom of God brought in by His Son (Heb. 12:26-28).  

Milton Terry wrote:

The language of 2 Pet. 3:10-12 is taken mainly from Isa. 34:4, and is limited to the parousia, like the language of Matt. 24:29.  Then the Lord made “not only the land but also the heaven” to tremble (Heb. 12:26), and removed the things that were shaken in order to establish a kingdom which cannot be moved. [8]

It is crucial to note that the apostle continually points his readers’ attention, not to events that were to take place thousands of years in the future, but to events that were already beginning to take place.  Otherwise his closing words make no sense at all:  “Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless….You, therefore, beloved, since you know these things beforehand, beware lest you fall from your own steadfastness…” (2 Pet.3:14-17).  If these things refer to a late-20th-century thermonuclear holocaust, why would the inspired apostle direct such a serious exhortation against “falling from steadfastness” to thousands of readers who would never live to see the things he foretold?  A cardinal rule of Biblical interpretation is that Scripture must interpret Scripture; and, particularly, that the New Testament is God’s own inspired commentary on the meaning of the Old Testament.  

Once the old had been swept away, St. Peter declared, the Age of Christ would be fully established, an era “in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet. 3:13). The distinguishing characteristic of the new era, in stark contrast to what preceded it, would be righteousness – increasing righteousness, as the Gospel would be set free in its mission to the nations.  There have been many battles throughout Church history, of course, and many battles lie ahead.  But these must not blind us to the very real progress that the Gospel has made and continues to make in the world.  The New World Order of the Lord Jesus Christ has arrived; and, according to God’s own promise, the saving knowledge of Him will fill the earth, as the waters cover the sea (Isa. 11:9).


[1]  John Owen, “Providential Changes, an Argument for Universal Holiness,” in The Works of John Owen, 16 vols. (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust), 9:135.

[2]  “Providential Changes, an Argument for Universal Holiness,” 134.

[3]  Milton Terry, Biblical Hermeneutices: A Treatise on the Interpretation of the Old and New Testaments (Grand Rapids: Zondervan,1974), 406.

[4]  J. Stuart Russell, The Parousia (Bradford,PA: Kingdom Publications, n.d.), 321-23.

[5] “Providential Changes, an Argument for Universal Holiness,” 134-35.

[6]  John L. Bray, Heaven and Earth Shall Pass Away (Lakeland, FL: John L. Bray Ministries,1995), 26.

[7]  Quoted in Roderick Campbell, Israel and the New Covenant (Philadelphia, PA: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1954), 107.

[8] Terry, Biblical Hermeneutics, 489.

David Chilton on Full Preterism
Oklahoma City Conference



If you don’t know what happened to me 3 years ago you will find out in a while. Or you will discern it while I speak. Because I talk funny now. Some of you know my sort of gradual movement into the full preterist position. I recently ran across a passage in Paradise Restored that now I look at and think: That should have pushed me over the cliff! 12 years ago into full preterism. I don’t know why it didn’t. I don’t know what I would have done if somebody had come to me and said, “David Chilton, look at what you said”. But anyway, that is another story. What I am getting at is, here I am as a Full Preterist. Many of you wonder how I can be a Full Preterist and still be a Theonomist “ in which case I must still be half brain dead. But bear with me for this point. At least one reason why the Reformed, especially the Theonomic Biblical Law oriented (Rushdoony, Gary North) that camp, feels that they can’t come into Preterism is because of this very clear issue. Because much of Theonomy, of the arguments for Theonomy, is based upon a certain interpretation of Matthew 5:17-19.

NAS Mat 5: 17  “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

 That is a crucial text. It is very important. And how you interpret that text determines an awful lot about a lot of things. But let me quote first from Greg Bahnsen’s book. Greg Bahnsen died last year. But he was, until then, people considered at least the premier theologian for the Theonomic world view. Except half the Theonomists did not believe that. But at least he did. And his followers did. But Bahnsen makes this statement on page 213 of Theonomy and Christian Ethics. He makes 5 points. The five points of Bahnsenism. His main argument is this: 1. The Christian is morally obligated to observe every jot and tittle of the Older Testamental Law. To disobey any point is to violate the whole law (James 2:10). 2. There is a system or interrelated set of Ceremonial Laws 3. The observation of this system of ordinances (redemptive ceremonies) was intended to be superceded. It was a foreshadow of Christ’s saving economy, and has become obsolete with 1

His historical work. We all would agree with that, right? I think. Boy, if you don’t agree with that, maybe you are in the wrong church. Let me say it again. 3. The observation of this system of ordinances (redemptive ceremonies) was intended to be superceded. It was a foreshadow of Christ’s saving economy, and has become obsolete with His historical work.

So this system of ceremonies in the Old Covenant has become obsolete now in the New Covenant. You don’t feel under any obligation to go and perform a sacrifice. If you did feel under obligation to go and perform a sacrifice you are in more than hot water. Because you can’t. The most dedicated, Pharisaical Jew in the world can not perform the sacrifices. The temple is gone. For almost 2,000 years it has been gone. So, as we say in California, they are in deep guacamole. So, anyway, the Old Covenant, the Old System of ceremonies has become obsolete with Christ’s saving work. And, I think, almost every Christian would agree with that statement. Thus: 4. 5. The continued observation of this system of shadows is to miss the true import, is diametrically opposed to Christian Faith, and evidences condemning bondage (Gal 4 – 5). Therefore, in order to walk righteously before our God, and not violate His requirements at any point, we must identify and distinguish ceremonial observance from moral observance.

What Bahnsen is saying is, Look: God gave us a system of laws. There are ceremonial laws and there are moral laws. The ceremonial laws are gone with the passing of the Old Covenant. The moral laws still exist. Now, you may have ways in which you want to finesse that, but the fact is that almost every Christian would agree with that statement as it stands. That is the basic theonomic argument. Let me summarize: 1. The OT Law consists of ceremonial law and moral law. 2. OT ceremonial laws were typological of Christ, and He brought a change in the Law. 3. OT moral laws are confirmed in the NT as still binding. God is still God. God says, “I am the Lord I change not” James 1:17: there is no variation in God or shadow of turning. So God does not change His standards of what He thinks right and wrong are. You may not agree with God’s opinion. But good news: God is God and you are not! So God says that certain things are right and wrong. The moral law is still there. A recent writer, William Einwechter has written a little book, Ethics in God’s Law an Introduction to Theonomy, which is a good summary statement of the basic theonomic argument. Let me quote from what he says (page 29)


“Secondly, Jesus Christ Himself emphatically taught the continuing authority of the moral precepts of the OT Law for His kingdom when He said, [Mat 5:17-19] Think not that I am come to destroy the Law and the Prophets. I am not come to destroy but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, ˜til heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law until all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments and shall teach men so he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. But whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” Einwechter continues with this significant summary statement: Jesus here declares that his disciples are responsible to do and teach the ethical and moral principles contained in the law and the prophets.” NOT TRUE! That is NOT what Jesus said. That is NOT what Jesus said. Let me read that statement again: “Jesus here declares that his disciples [he means us, modern day Christians] are responsible to do and teach the ethical and moral principles contained in the law and the prophets.” That is NOT what He said. He said JOT & TITTLE. Unless you observe all the JOT & TITTLES. The JOT & TITTLES don’t pass away until all is fulfilled. Now let me get some quotations from Greg Bahnsen. I know what Einwechter says, and what Bahnsen says “ that our duty now is to observe the ethical and moral principles of the OT law. Amen. I agree with that. I don’t know where you are on all that, but I agree with that. But that is not what the text says. Bahnsen says more than that. Let me quote from Theonomy and Christian Ethics page 73 & 74. “It is the point of slightness that Jesus brings forcefully before us. Not even the very least extensive number of the very least significant aspect of the Old Testament Law will become invalid until heaven and earth pass away. It is hard to imagine how Jesus could of more intensely affirmed every bit of the Old Law remains binding in the gospel age.” Back to Einwechter “ what did Einwechter say? Jesus here declares that his disciples are responsible to do and teach the ethical and moral principles contained in the law and the prophets.” That is not what Bahnsen says. Bahnsen says, EVERY BIT! That means that, for one thing, the JOT & TITTLE are NOT broad based principles. As a 3

matter of fact, let me quote that from Bahsen’s book. Page 74 of Theonomy and Christian Ethics says, “JOT & TITTLE are NOT broad based principles…” They are jots & tittles. They are every little, insignificant, picayune, Pharisaical legalistic detail “ getting down to the jots & tittles. That is really ALL the teensy weensy bits of the OT Law are fully valid in this age. I wrote a letter to a friend recently and said, As Hamlet says, “’tis the sport to have the engineer Hoist with his own petard” That sounds almost obscene but it is not. Look it up. What it means is that, if what Bahnsen says is true, then the entire Christian Church has been violating God’s Law for almost 2,000 years. When push comes to shove he cheats at a crucial point. And the crucial point is Hebrews 8:13. NAS Heb 8: 13 When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear. KJV Heb 8 13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away. NIV Heb 8 13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear. NRSV Heb 8 13 In speaking of “a new covenant,” he has made the first one obsolete. And what is obsolete and growing old will soon disappear. NLT Heb 8: 13 When God speaks of a new covenant, it means he has made the first one obsolete. It is now out of date and ready to be put aside. WEY Heb 8: 13 By using the words, “a new Covenant,” He has made the first one obsolete; but whatever is decaying and showing signs of old age is not far from disappearing altogether. Bahnsen, in his book Theonomy and Christian Ethics , CITES Heb 8:13. He does not QUOTE it. Quote means you quote the whole thing, word for word. Cite means you put the reference there (i.e. Heb 8:13) “ but you don’t quote it. You just leave people on their own responsibility to look up the reference. The kind of sneaky thing about doing that is, you can cite all you want to, and, as a writer, I know that more than half the people are going to bother to look it up. You know, I met in Australia last year an 80 year old woman who read through Days of Vengeance twice, and looked up all the references. It probably took her almost 80 years to do that. But she is the only person I ever met besides me who looked up all the references. 4

I mean, nobody looks up the references. You just read the statement and if you agree with it, OK “ and you go on. But Hebrews 8:13 is a crucial text. Written about AD 67. I am assuming Paul wrote it. People have all kinds of theories about who wrote it. My mom thinks Priscilla wrote it. But in AD 67, shortly before 70 AD, Hebrews 8:1 is a classic verse. I mean, is the book of Hebrews so difficult? Wow. I mean, all of this symbolism and ceremony and all this old stuff. How do I figure this out? I mean, I wish he had put this in the beginning (that is, as verse 1 in chapter 1) but he waits til you get halfway through the book to say this. NAS Heb 8: 1 ¶ Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, … So he waits until chapter 8 to tell you the main point. And verse 13 is a crucial verse: OK, in Hebrews 8 he quotes Jeremiah 31 on the change between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. By the way, I went to school with a guy in the late 70’s early 80’s named Dawson McCalister. He is a semi-famous Pre-Mil Dispensational speaker who goes around the country speaking to youth groups. And my sons went to his conference a couple of years ago. And, like everybody, halfway through he has to jump into Eschatology and start preaching about the Millennium. And when my sons came home and told me what my old friend Dawson McCalister had done, I got visibly upset. They came home and said that Dawson quoted from Jeremiah 31 and said, “Boy, this is what it is going to be like in the Millennium.” And I almost blew a gasket. Cause, “Hello”. You don’t dare quote Hebrews. Hebrews quotes Jeremiah 31 and says that it is fulfilled. But he wants to put it in the Millennium so he doesn’t, he shields from his youthful audience the fact that Hebrews 8 says that it is a New Covenant reality. And he wants to shove it off into some far distant future. Anyway, Paul says, summarizing his argument from Jeremiah 31, Paul says in Hebrews 8:13: NAS Heb 8: 13 When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear. Jeremiah is looking forward to a New Covenant. The New Covenant that is going to come. He is in the Old Covenant centuries before the coming of Christ “ and Jeremiah is looking forward to the coming of this New Covenant. So Paul summarizes it and says, “Look, he says new”. … He has made the first obsolete. Now, 5

that is real easy. So there was the Old Covenant. And the New Covenant. We are in the New Covenant now. The first covenant is obsolete. Everybody agree with that? I mean, please, you gotta agree with me on that one. The first covenant is obsolete. It says so in the Bible. I know it is not red letters (Jesus did not say it). But still, it is in the Bible. So Paul says, NAS Heb 8: 13 When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. That is PAST TENSE. He HAS MADE the first covenant obsolete. But notice what he says: NAS Heb 8: 13 When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear There is a change of tense there. And the fact is, what he was pointing to was the TRANSITION between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. What he is saying is that the Old Covenant ceremonies are almost, but not quite, gone. Because people were still, in 67 AD, performing sacrifices. They were still obligated to do all the Old Covenant rituals. They were still in force. But what he says is: But whatever is and is ready to becoming obsolete growing old disappear

So, back then, in the last days of the Old Covenant, the old covenant ceremonies were passing away, but they had not quite passed yet. In F. F. Bruce commentary on Hebrews, he says, “If the earlier covenant, with all that accompanied it, is antiquated “ it is ready to vanish away. Anything that is old and aging will shortly disappear (NEB I think). And he points out that this was written while the Old Temple was still standing. That is, about 67 AD or so. If, in fact, the Jerusalem temple was still standing, if the priests of Aaron’s line were still discharging their sacrificial duties there “ then our authors words were all the more telling. Jesus and, shortly after Him, Stephen, had foretold the downfall of the temple. If the end of the temple and its ministry had been immanent 30 years before (as Jesus and Stephen were saying) it was more immanent now that the 40 years of probation were more than 3/4 way toward their end.” So Jesus and Stephen were pointing to the destruction of the temple almost 40 years before. Now, he 6

was saying, it is more immanent. So it is all the more pressing on the readers of the Hebrews epistle. Back to Bahnsen. Remember, I said that 4 times Greg Bahnsen refers to (he cites but does not quote) Hebrews 8:13. Let me read it again: NAS Heb 8: 13 When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. It sounds like he contradicts that last statement by what he says next. But whatever is becoming obsolete Now Paul, or whoever, is it obsolete or isn’t it? It is one or the other, right? And what he says there is that it is BECOMING obsolete, but it was not quite obsolete yet. and growing old is ready to disappear He is not here now. I don’t want to speak evil of the dead. So I won’t say he cheated, but it looks like he is cheating. On page 194 of Theonomy and Christian Ethics Bahnsen says, Hebrews 8:13 says that the Old Age is past, but that the age of the Son is here to stay. See, here we are living in 1997, and we read that and say, “Yeah. Yeah. That is true. The Old Age is past. The New Age is here to stay”. But the problem is that that is NOT what Hebrews 8:13 is saying. What Heb 8:13 is saying is that IT IS PASSING AWAY “ it has not quite gone yet. Page 209: Theonomy and Christian Ethics The ineffective priesthood has been superceded by the better hope. Hence, the ceremonial system is now antiquated. The perfect has come, thus making the sacrificial prestly temple irrelevant (Heb 8:13). The ceremonial system of the Old Covenant has become obsolete and grown old. It is (quotes the Greek word meaning “disappearing”), which, in its verbal form, is used of legislation which has become inoperative, because it is no longer relevant to changes circumstance.” But the trouble is, he doesn’t dare quote the actual verse. Oh, he will quote it in Greek, because his readers aren’t reading Greek. OK? But it has not quite disappeared yet. So what he is 7

doing is, he is saying, “Look, the Old Covenant is gone. Are we all agreed that the Old Covenant is gone?” If you people were Charismatic you would raise your hand. We all agree that the Old Covenant is gone. And that is the trick. I don’t mean to downgrade him. But the fact is that he is pulling a theological trick by getting you to agree to something, and you don’t realize the tremendous theological import of what you just gave away. Because Hebrews 8:13 DOES NOT SAY that the Old Covenant IS obsolete. It says that it is GROWING obsolete, BECOMING old, READY TO vanish away. It is obsolete now in 1997. So we think, hey cool. Nothing wrong with that. Let me go on and quote Bahnsen again. On page 213 of Theonomy and Christian Ethics . I quoted that before (those 5 points). I will quote number 3 again. 3. The observation of this system of ordinances (redemptive ceremonies) was intended to be superceded. It was a foreshadow of Christ’s saving economy, and has become obsolete with His historical work (Heb 8:13).

No it doesn’t. It says that it is BECOMING obsolete. It is becoming obsolete as Paul was writing it. But it was not quite obsolete yet. Otherwise, if it was completely obsolete, it would have said so. But it was not yet. It certainly is obsolete now for us. So that is why we don’t even think about the sort of psychological trick that has been conveyed in this. One more quote from Bahnsen (page 227 of Theonomy and Christian Ethics ) The period of the Old Testament is now followed by the New. The kingdom has superceded the time of expectation of the Older Testamental era. The age of the Law of prophets is past. The age of the Son and its fuller revelation is here to stay. [What does he quote?] (Heb 8:13) The thing is, what he is doing is, he is getting us to impute to Hebrews 8:13 something that Hebrews 8:13 never intended to mean. It does not mean that it is past. It is past now for us. Because we are past 70 AD. But it was not past yet. It was almost past. It was like a hair’s breath of being past. But it was not quite past. An actual quotation would show that, from the NT or Last Days perspective, it had not quite passed yet. Bahnsen was, perhaps unknowingly, playing a theological sleight of hand trick. And on this point let me make a little suggestion. Let me give you a hint. If you are having trouble with Preterism, look at it through the New Testamental transitional language. For instance, NAS Eph 2: 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of 8

God’s household, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. It had not been completely built yet. It was growing. There is a transition going on in the NT that we often fail to recognize because we are so much past it now. It was a transition that was going on then but is not going on now. It has been completed. Now let me quote from John Brown (1754-1858), a commentator from the last century. He wrote a book in 3 volumes, Discourses and Sayings of our Lord. He says something significant on page 171-2. He talks about the passing away of the heavens and the earth in Matthew 5:17-19. And he takes the position that the passing of heaven and earth is past. We are not waiting for it to pass away someday. He takes the position that it is passed. He is almost a Preterist, isn’t he? Listen to this. If the words are carefully examined (that is, of Mat 5:17-19) there will be found to contain in them NOT an indefinite declaration of the inviolable authority of the Law, but a declaration of its inviolable authority until a certain period, until certain events had taken place, until heaven and earth pass, ˜til all things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth passing away, understood literally, is a disillusion of the present system of the universe. And the period when that is to take place is called the end of the world. But … He is saying, “I don’t agree with that. That is what people think it means.” But a person at all familiar with the phraseology of the Old Testament Scriptures knows that the dissolution of the Mosaic Economy and the establishment of the Christian [Economy] is often spoken of as a removal of the old earth and heavens and the creation of the new earth and heavens. For example, KJV Isa 65 ;17  For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. … Isa 66:22 For, as the new heavens and the new earth that I am making, Are standing before Me, An affirmation of Jehovah! So remain doth your seed and your name. The period of the close of one dispensation and the commencement of the other is spoken of as “the last days” and “the end of the world”. And is described as the shaking of the earth and heaven as should lead to the removal of the things which were shaken. Notice that he is quoting from Hag 2 and Heb 12. So far that is excellent Preterist exposition. The phrase at the end of the verse, “til all things be fulfilled” seem to refer to the typically prophetical character of the law, and to be equivalent to “until all things figured in it BE, TAKE PLACE, REALLY EXIST “ until the true priest, the true altar, and the true 9

sacrifice come.” In these words there is an allusion to the language in the previous verse. Christ says, “I am not come to destroy” (that is, to invalidate the OT Scriptures) … “but to complete then”. Now, the period referred to is the period when the Divine Revelation was completed by the Son of God. Stop. So far he is preterist. He is preterist up to the hilt. Let me say that again. Now, the period referred to is the period when the Divine Revelation was completed by the Son of God. That period, I apprehend, would be … WHAT? What would it be? If not 70 AD, when was Scripture finished? Remember, he says “the period when the Divine Revelation was completed by the Son of God”. When was Divine Revelation completed? He says, That period, I apprehend, was the pouring out of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost. OOPS! Wait a minute. He had just quoted a verse written 30 years after Pentecost. I mean Pentecost happened 35 years before Paul wrote in Hebrews, saying that it IS PASSING AWAY. And he even quotes Hebrews 12:26-27 [in his footnote]. Which was written over 30 years AFTER he says that Revelation had stopped being given. If Revelation stopped on the Day of Pentecost, none of the New Testament would exist. But the New Testament was written during the period of Transition. In the last days period of transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. Let me get back to where I am going here. So, what I am saying is that John Brown says that Divine Revelation was completed at Pentecost. But the fact is that Divine Revelation was not even written yet (at Pentecost). And it is important … like I said, he quotes Heb 12:26-27 (which was written over 30 years after Pentecost). What I am trying to say, though, is that his point is valid. John Brown’s point is valid. He just had it off by a few years. As applied to the closing of the cannon in AD 70, when the temple was destroyed by God’s own judgment, his point is valid. Now, Let me quote from Paradise Restored (Chilton’s book). One of my favorite statements in Paradise Restored on page 103 ff. I preached for a pastor recently who had read Paradise Restored … in fact he kept it under his pillow. He memorized portions of it and quoted it copiously to people. All the time while I was visiting. It seems like he was dedicated to Paradise Restored. And when I pointed out some of the mistakes in Paradise Restored, and that I don’t agree with my own writing at this point … But this statement on page 103 and following I think is just wonderful. 10

The Gathering of the Elect Finally, the result of Jerusalem’s destruction will be Christ’s sending forth of his “angels” to gather the elect.

Isn’t this the Rapture? No. The word angels simply means messengers (cf. James 2:25), regardless of whether their origin is heavenly or earthly; it is the context which determines whether these are heavenly creatures being spoken of. The word often means preachers of the gospel (see Matt. 11:10; Luke 7:24; 9:52; Rev. 1-3). In context, there is every reason to assume that Jesus is speaking of the worldwide evangelism and conversion of the nations which will follow upon the destruction of Israel. Christ’s use of the word gather is significant in this regard. The word, literally, is a verb meaning to synagogue; the meaning is that with the destruction of the Temple and of the Old Covenant system, the Lord sends out His messengers to gather His elect people into His New Synagogue. Jesus is actually quoting from Moses, who had promised: “If your outcasts are at the ends of heaven, from there the LORD your God will synagogue you, and from there he will take you” (Deut. 30:4, Septuagint). Neither text has anything to do with the Rapture; both are concerned with the restoration and establishment of God’s House, the organized congregation of His covenant people. This becomes even more pointed when we remember what Jesus had said just before this discourse: O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to synagogue your chil dren together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your House is being left to you desolate! (Matt. 23:37-38). Because Jerusalem apostatized and refused to be synagogued under Christ, her Temple would be destroyed, and a New Synagogue and Temple would be formed: the Church. The New Temple was created, of course, on the Day of Pentecost, when the Spirit came to indwell the Church. But the fact of the new Temple’s existence would only be made obvious when the scaffolding of the Old Temple and the Old Covenant system was taken away. The Christian congregations immediately began calling themselves “synagogues” (that is the word used in James 2:2), while calling the Jewish gatherings “synagogues of Satan” (Rev. 2:9; 3:9). Yet they lived in anticipation of the Day of Judgment upon Jerusalem and the Old Temple, when the Church would be revealed as the true Temple and Synagogue of God. Because the Old Covenant system was “obsolete” and “ready to disappear” (Heb. 8:13), the writer to the Hebrews urged them to have hope, “not forsaking the synagoguing of ourselves together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the Day approaching” (Heb. 10:25; cf. 2 Thess. 2:1-2). The Old Testament promise that God would “synagogue” His people undergoes one major change in the New Testament. Instead of the simple form of the word, the term used by Jesus has the Greek preposition epi prefixed to it. This is a favorite New Covenant expression, which intensifies the original word. What Jesus is saying, therefore, is that the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70 will reveal Himself as having come with clouds to receive His Kingdom; and it will display His Church before the world as the full, the true, the super-Synagogue . Now, that stands as an almost complete Preterist Statement. And I wrote at the beginning of the front page of my book a quotation from Alexander Pope, “A man should never be ashamed to own that he had been in the wrong, which is but saying in other words that he is wiser today than he was yesterday”. Now, let me get to the point, let me cut to the chase here. The literalist-Theonomist dilemma is that Bahnsens says EVERY BIT of the OT Law is binding until heaven and earth are literally gone. That means the OT ceremonies, too. That means the dietary laws, too. And I happen to know that Bahnsen loved pork and shellfish. He also like Jello. Ever read the ingredients of Jello? Geletin. That tells me a lot. Geletin = boiled animal skin, bones and tissue. As Bill Cosby would say, “There is always room for horses hoofs”. My point is that the dietary rules are a major issue in the NT. In the New Covenant you still go to heaven if you eat pork. You might go a little quicker. But more to the point: the detailed elements of the Old Covenant were still binding until AD 70. The sacrifices and ceremonies were not passed for Paul’s readers “ they were passing away. Mat. 5:17-19 looks like it would happen in one fell swoop. In reality, it was a transition. Paul rebukes the Galatians for their OC legalism in Gal 4:3, 9-10. 12

NAS Gal 4: 3 So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. 4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, 5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6 Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God. 8 ¶ However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods. 9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years. And in Col 2:8, 20-21 8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. … 20 If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 21 “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” And Heb 5:12-14 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. … In those texts, Paul specifically talks about the elements of the Old Covenant (stoichea), the elements of the Old Covenant system that were passing away. That were becoming obsolete. He is rebuking them for following the elements of the OC Legalism instead of going into NC freedom. The same Greek word, Stoichea, is found in 2 Peter 3 (translated elements). The Dispensationalists there think that means (going back to the ancient Greeks) what the earth is made of. Elements. As in elemental table. The physical elements of the earthly world. …

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Date: 11 Jun 2006
Time: 14:01:26


What happened to the judgement(seperating the sheep from the goat) where all goat is send to eternal torment and sheep to the kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world. btw, i don’t believe in your view

Date: 04 Jul 2006
Time: 02:37:29


Brilliant. Totally agree. One of the most widely misused verses in the Bible. Thank you for clear Bible study and analysis..

Brent Hill

Date: 27 Oct 2006
Time: 16:38:39


Thank you brothers for your scholarship. Please explain, then Peter’s – new heavens and a new earth in relation to the Lord’s return