Jerrold Lewis: The Hymenaean Heresy (1997 Presbyterian Reformed Church)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

This doctrine, as you well know strikes at the very heart of our Christian faith attempting to steal the hope of every believer of a blessed return of the Bridegroom for his bride. It does exactly what Paul says in 2 Timothy 2, “overthrowing the faith of some,” by “saying that the resurrection is past already.”


The Hymenaean Heresy

By Jerrold Lewis
Presbyterian Reformed Church (Free Church of Scotland)
1997


Therefore, in the certain Hope of the Resurrection, the Reformed Church in the United States does hereby find the Hymenaean heresy to be contrary to orthodoxy, and its adherents to be preachers of a false gospel. Let these enemies of Christ and His Kingdom be anathema maranatha.“On March 13, 1997 the Classis of the Reformed Church in the United States adopted and forwarded for approval the following overture:

“Whereas,

The Hymenaeans called “hyperpreterists” allege, against the clear teaching of God’s Inspired and Infallible Word, that there is no physical Resurrection of the body, and whereas,

The Hymenaeans called “hyperpreterists” allege, against the clear teaching of God’s Inspired and Infallible Word, that the Second Coming of our Lord is already past, and whereas,

The Hymenaeans called “hyperpreterists” allege, against the clear teaching of God’s Inspired and Infallible Word, that there is no future Great White Throne Judgment and whereas,

These views represent a satanic attack upon the holy catholic faith once delivered unto the saints,

Therefore, in the certain Hope of the Resurrection, the Reformed Church in the United States does hereby find the Hymenaean heresy to be contrary to orthodoxy, and its adherents to be preachers of a false gospel. Let these enemies of Christ and His Kingdom be anathema maranatha.

We further urge the Synod of the Reformed Church in the United States to broadly communicate the action taken this day to those of like precious faith, that the people of God may be warned against this false gospel, and encouraged to pray for the repentance of those lost souls who have been enslaved by it” (Western Classis of the Reformed Church in the United States, March 13, 1997).

The Heresy

In First Timothy 1:19-20 we read “Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom / have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme”.

Evidently these two men were promoting some sort of heresy that Paul does not tell us about in his first letter to young Timothy. However, in his second letter Paul opens a window for us by saying, “But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some” (2 Tim 2:16-18).

Obviously, Hymenaeus was trying to convince the church under Timothy’s charge that the return of Jesus Christ had already occurred. He and Philetus were overthrowing “the faith of some” by steeling away their hope of the blessed physical return of our Saviour.

Recently, the heresy of Hymenaeus and Philetus has found its way back in the Church of Christ. Satan has resurrected this heterodox relic at a time of great disruption and fraction in the Reformed body, when defenses seem to be at an all time low. In our day, Hymenaeus and Philetus’ heterodoxy has resurfaced under the name Full Preterism or Hyper Preterism. Simply put, Full Preterism teaches that all biblical prophecy was fulfilled before 70 A.D including the Second Advent of Christ. To a Full Preterist there are no biblical prophecies yet to be fulfilled.

While there are a myriad of theological & hermeneutical problems involved in Full Preterism, space does not allow for a full treatment of each error. We will have to be content right now in defending the most vital of Preterism’s viral attack on the faith once delivered (Jude 3).

Full Preterists deny a future, physical, return of Jesus Christ and maintain that Jesus returned for the second and final time in 70 A.D (See Ward Finley’s The Second Coming of, Jesus Christ Already Happened). Furthermore, Full Preterists also deny the resurrection of a physical body of both the just and unjust on the great day, and deny the future event of the great day (Jude 6) itself, contending that all these things happened spiritually in 70 A.D. The late reconstructionist David Chilton, in his preface to Edward E. Steven’s book “What Happened in 70 A.D.?” says, “Without exception, every event foretold by the Biblical prophets was fulfilled within that generation, as Jesus had said… Stevens presents a powerful case that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ occurred in A.D. 70” (Emphasis mine).

This doctrine, as you well know strikes at the very heart of our Christian faith attempting to steal the hope of every believer of a blessed return of the Bridegroom for his bride. It does exactly what Paul says in 2 Timothy 2, “overthrowing the faith of some,” by “saying that the resurrection is past already.”

If we can prove the absurdity of this claim we should be able to quell the voices of opposition and build one another up on a sure foundation and hope. While there are several Scriptures that speak of a physical return of Christ, I will concentrate on just one, which I hope will prove to be the index for the others.

Acts 1:9-11 “And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in while apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”

Acts 1: 9 “And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

There are two words in this verse that set the context for our exegesis. They are the words “beheld” and “sight”.

Beheld: Greek – blepo (blep’-o); a primary verb; to look at.

Vine’s tells us that this word blepo in Acts 1:9 was a physical act. “The gaze of the disciples as the Lord ascended” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of the Old and New Testament, p.59).

Sight: Greek – ophthalmos (of-thal-mos’); from the eye; by implication, vision.

As we can see, this verse is clearly speaking of a visible occurrence, where the physical body of Jesus is ascending into the clouds.

Acts 1:10 “And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;”

Here we have another important word, “looked”.

Looked: Greek – atemzo (at-en-id’-zo); to gaze intently: behold earnestly (steadfastly), fasten (eyes), look (earnestly, steadfastly, up steadfastly), set eyes.

Once again the word used indicated an actual, physical looking. We are not speaking of some sort of spiritual visualization, as the Preterists want us to believe. Furthermore, we see in this verse a real life encounter with angels who “stood by them in while apparel”.

Acts 1:11 “Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”

Here the word “gazing” is helpful in determining what manner he left.

Gazing: Greek – emblepo (em-blep’-o); from NT: 1722 and NT:991; to look on, i.e. (relatively) to observe fixedly, or (absolutely) to discern clearly.

This word is emphatic about the manner in which they saw Jesus go, “to observe fixedly, or (absolutely) to discern clearly.”

Surely we can see from these verses that Christ’s ascension was both literal and physical, for they “beheld him” when he was “taken up”, and was received out of “their sight”, as they “looked steadfastly” into heaven.

Then, we are told by the angels that “this same Jesus”(the one they walked, talked, and ate with for three years), would “return in like manner as ye seen him go”. The Greek phrase on tropon plainly means “what manner.” This Greek expression says A. Alexander, “never indicates mere certainty or vague resemblance; but wherever it occurs in the New Testament, denotes identity of mode or manner” (A. Alexander, Acts, ad loc.). Surely, we can see from this passage that the clear and plain instruction of the inspired Scriptures teaches a literal, physical return of Christ? We have divine warrant to anticipate the second coming of our Saviour in a corporeal and factual way! Full Preterism is contrary to Scripture when it asserts that Christ’s Second Advent occurred in 70. A.D- for 70 A.D was NOT THE PHYSICAL RETURN which is promised to us in Acts 1:9-11.

Dating of Revelation

The Full Preterists (and Partial Preterists) also teach that there was no Scripture written after the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. The reason for this is their pressed exegesis and selective histories. They believe that the book of Revelation was written in 69 A.D and that the Antichrist was Nero Cesar. Fortunately the external and internal evidence disproves this novel theory.

Dr. H.B. Swete says in his scholarly commentary on Revelation, “Early Christian tradition is almost unanimous in assigning the Apocalypse to the last years of Domitian” (Emphasis mine)(Swete, xcix.). He then goes on to list Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Victorinus, and Eusebius as attesting to the same date.

Irenaeus (180 AD.), for example, indicated that John saw his vision “almost in our day, toward the end of Domitian’s reign” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 5.30.3). Irenaeus’ quote is very important because he was the protégé of Polycarp (A.D. 60-155) the bishop of Smyrna who was John’s own disciple! Irenaeus was one person away from the source. External evidence does not get any better than that! Domitian was the Roman emperor from 81-96 A.D. long after the destruction of the Temple.

Internally we may summarize the important facts:

1 .The condition of the Asian churches supports a later date than the time of Nero. Time was needed for lukewarmness to creep in, and for Churches to lose their first love.

2. The pervasiveness of the imperial cult is suggestive of the time of Domitian rather than that of Nero who was very aggressive in proclaiming the deity of his line.

3. Full Preterists believe that the antichrist was Nero Cesar the Tyrant who defiled the Temple and sat in its place claiming to be “a god”. 2 Thessalonians 2:4 says, “Who oppose/h and exalteth himself above al/that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” Nero never claimed to be God (YHWH) but “a god”. This is a big problem in the form of internal evidence. We have no proof that Nero ever claimed to be the God of the Jewish Temple. This poses yet another internal problem with the Full Preterist theory… the Temple.

The Temple

The word temple in 2 Thessalonians 2 is not the usual Greek word for temple, which is hieron or herios. The word we find in this text is naos. It is the same word used to describe the spiritual temple of the New Testament, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple (naos) of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God and ye are not your own?” The apostle is not telling us that someone was or will some day defile the physical temple of God, but that someone would come that would defile the spiritual temple – the New Testament Church! This is speaking of the Roman Catholic Pope- the so-called Vicar of Christ, the Holy Father!

It should be noted that the Ecclesiastical successors of the Imperial Roman Empire, the Roman Catholic Church, make significant claims to Divinity and spiritual rule in plain understandable language. Witness Pope Pius IX (1846-78), “ I, despite my unworthiness, am the successor of the Apostles, the Vicar of Jesus Christ…I am the way, the truth and the life.” “We hold the place of almighty God on earth,” declared Pope Leo XIII in 1894. “You know that I am the Holy Father, the representative of God on earth, the Vicar of Christ, which means I am God on earth,” affirmed Pope Pius XI from the Vatican in 1922 (Woodrow, Great Prophesies of the Bible, p. 169).

Where Did Preterism Originate?

During the time of the Reformation, men like Luther and Calvin began to uncover the truth of the Scriptures by the Spirit’s leading. The man of sin, it was discovered, was the Pope, as he sat in the seat and office of Pontiff. In an attempt to dispel the aggressive attack against the office of the Pope in this regard, a Spanish Jesuit Luis De Alcazar (1554-16 13) wrote a commentary called Investigation of the Hidden Sense of the Apocalypse, which ran to some 900 pages. In it he proposed that all of Revelation applied to the era of pagan Rome and the first six centuries of Christianity. In this book he taught:

• Revelation chapters 1-11 describe the rejection of the Jews and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans.

• Revelation chapters 12 – 19 were the overthrow of Roman paganism (the great harlot) and the conversion of the empire to the church.

• Revelation 20 describes the final persecutions by Antichrist, who is identified as Caesar Nero (54-68 AD.), and judgment.

• Revelation 21 -22 describe the triumph of the New Jerusalem, the Roman Catholic Church.

Hyper Preterism, is Roman Catholic in origin, contra-confession, and should be avoided, not only for it’s origins but also because it blasphemes the name of Christ by saying Jesus has already returned. I am not saying that there are not “past” fulfillments in the Bible for there are many including 70 A.D. What I am saying is Full Preterism is a New Testament heresy (2 Timothy 2) and needs to be exposed for what it is- another gospel. Anyone who hold’s to such a view in their heart is outside the company of believers and in need of salvation.

May God grant us humility and wisdom.

From: http://www.credoquarterly.com/mysite/hymin.htm

Re: The Hymenaean Heresy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.