I would first of all like to apologize for the amount of time that it has taken to respond to these articles from Don Preston. I am appreciative of the fact that he took the time to respond, and hope to give something of substance to his endeavor here.
To begin with a bit of an overview of Don’s response to my original essay, I must say that I am a bit disappointed that he does not truly address the points that I raise in my original article. (see the link here: https://origenpress.com/2018/07/06/the-until-passages/ ). In my original article I essentially outline what I feel is a valid structure for prophetic fulfillment. I posit that some prophetic statements give a specific instance that mark their culmination, and a state that will continue until this defining event takes place. I contrast this to the structure of time texts, often cited by Full Preterists; which have a structure that demands a state be reached within a certain time frame. One is limited in duration specifically, and the other is limited by a certain state that marks a consummation. In the first instance I cite Acts 3:21:
whom indeed it behooves heaven to receive until the times of restoration of all things, of which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from the ancient times.
I essentially content that the defining mark of this prophecy is the return of Christ from heaven. The state of thing that will continue until this takes place is that Christ will be “received into the heavens.” There can be little doubt as to the nature of this returning from the heavens, for we read only a few chapters before that Christ would return from heaven in the same manner that He was received into heaven:
Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, 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 white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven. (Acts 1:9-1).
They saw Him ascend into heaven and they were promised that He would return to them in the same manner! (It should also be noted, considering recent discussions, that Christ is received bodily into heaven, and this facilitates His return in like manner.) Thus what I contend – the essential point of my article concerning this passage – is that Christ has not returned from heaven in the same manner that He ascended, thus this passage has yet to be fulfilled in a consummate manner.
Don seems to miss this point altogether. At least he does not address this in any substantive manner. What we need to hear from Don, and other FP proponents who have tackled this article, is why Christ has not returned from heaven like He ascended. At the least we need to them to show us why this passage does not meant what it says. What we have, rather, is Don leading us down a rabbit trail that leaves the major premise of my article unanswered.
In order to attempt to answer my very strong challenge to FP, Don wants to focus our attention on the nature of the χρόνων ἀποκαταστάσεως πάντων (times of the restoration of all things). Now before I proceed further here I need to stress a point that I have already raised to Preston in previous discussions: the nature of the χρόνων ἀποκαταστάσεως πάντων does not alleviate the problem of Christ not having returned from heaves as He ascended. Whatever the χρόνων ἀποκαταστάσεως πάντων is, when it has been fulfilled Christ will return from the heavens like He ascended.
But lets look at Don’s assertion. Don begins by drawing a correlation between the terms ἀποκαταστάσεως in Acts 3:21 and ἀποκαταστήσει in Matt 17:11. Don asserts that because these are similar terms, they must speak of the same thing. Don goes on from this to suggest that the χρόνων ἀποκαταστάσεως πάντων (times of the restitution of all things) is the removal of the Law of Moses. I will suggest here that Don’s assertion fails on 2 points:
- His grammatical article based on similar terms is weak, if not non-existent.
- If his grammatical point stood, his assertion would still be logically inconsistent.
In short, he fails to establish the points of his rebuttal, even though his rebuttal misses the point of the original article all together.
- His Grammatical arguments fail:
Don’s entire argument begins with the contention that the similar terms in Acts 3:21 and Matt 17:11 demand that both passages are speaking of the same thing. It should be noted that while these terms share a common root, they are actually in different forms. In Matt 17:11 we see ἀποκαταστήσει in the verb form – it is an action. John is bringing Israel back to something. In Acts 3:21 the term ἀποκαταστάσεως is in the noun form, and is modified by other terms. It is the times of restitution of all things, not just the act of restitution. It should be remembered that Greek was, and is, a common language; and not a theological language. Terms have a common and basic usage, and we should not assume that every usage of every term always implies a connection of correlation. These terms are used very differently, and there common usage means little without some degree of contextual support – which we show is utterly absent.
- His assertion is logically inconsistent:
Remember Don’s final conclusions: the times of the restitution of all things is the removal of the Law of Moses. Why does he assert this? Because he connects the act of John’s restoring things in Israel to the removal of the Law. But wait! That does not make sense. John was not turning Israel from the Law, but rather bringing them back to the Law of Moses. The passage that Christ alludes to in Matt 17 comes from Mal 4:5 where the prophet promised that Elijah will come before the day of the Lord. Let’s look at this passage:
4 Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.
5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:
6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
Now I ask you: is John removing the Law of Moses or is John calling Israel to repentance and to remember the Law of Moses? According to this prophecy, John is calling them to remember the Law of Moses. Yet remember, Don tells us that John’s restoring of things is the removal of the Law of Moses. Why? Because he needs Acts 3:21 to be speaking of the removal of the Law of Moses. As we see, however, he fails to make that case either.
We could, and perhaps should, discuss what the times of the restitution of all things is. But whatever it may be, it will be marked by the return of Christ from heaven, and we see no evidence that it has anything to do with the removal of the Law of Moses. More to come…