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Eschatology Q & A -- "What About the Great Tribulation?"

eschatology%20q%20and%20a.jpgJeremy asks (July 29, 2006), “In the amillennial system, where does the tribulation fit in? Are we living in it now, or will it be a distinct time before the return of Christ?"


This is an important question for several reasons.  First, when most people think of the great tribulation, they are thinking of the dispensational idea that at (or about) the time of the Rapture, the world enters a seven-year period of tribulation in which the Antichrist comes to power after the unexpected removal of all believers.  The Antichrist then makes a seven-year peace treaty with Israel, only to turn upon Israel after three and a half years, plunging the world into a geo-political crisis which ends with the battle of Armageddon.  Dispensationalists believe this is a time of horrific cruelty and that only way to be saved during this period is to refuse to take the mark of the beast, and not worship the beast or his image.  The main problem with this interpretation is that it is
nowhere found  in Scripture.

A second reason why this question is important has to do with the rise of various forms of preterism (full-preterism, which is considered a heresy; and so-called “partial” preterism, which is not) which contend that Christ returned in A.D. 70 to execute judgment upon apostate Israel, the city of Jerusalem, and the Jewish temple and its sacrificial system.  Those who hold to the various forms of preterism believe that this great tribulation spoken of by Jesus (Matthew 24:21) has come and gone with the events associated with the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple by the Romans.

In light of the tendency to relegate a time of "great" tribulation to the distant past or imminent future, it is important to survey the biblical teaching in this regard.  As we will see, this time of “great tribulation” cannot be tied exclusively to the events of A.D. 70, or to the very end.  God’s people may face such tribulation throughout the entire time from Christ’s redemptive tribulation on the cross, until the end of the age.

Virtually all scholars agree that the basis for the three references in the New Testament to a “great tribulation” (Matthew 24:21; Revelation 2:22; 7:14) is Daniel 12:1, which reads: “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book.”

In Daniel’s prophecy not only  is this period of suffering tied to the time of the end (i.e., the mention of the general resurrection in vv.2-3), but the basis for the tribulation God’s people face is their covenant loyalty to God in the face of external persecution (by the state) and false teaching (from within) which causes the apostasy of many within the covenant community (cf. Daniel 11:30-39; 44; 12:10).

The same idea is found in the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3.  Three of the churches mentioned (Ephesus, Sardis, and Laodicea) are suffering greatly, and two other churches are thoroughly compromised in their witness to Christ (Pergamum and Thyatira).  In the light of struggles these churches are experiences, in Revelation 2:22, we read “behold, I will throw her [the woman Jezebel] onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works.”  Here, “great tribulation” is meted out upon those in the church of Thyatira who delight in this woman's false teaching.  This, the text explains, is a time of "great tribulation" for unbelievers (apostates).

In Revelation 7:14, one of the elders tells John that “these [John sees] are the ones coming out of the great tribulation.  They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”  This refers to the faithful remnant across time who endured the persecution of the world and who have been put to death.  Having been given white robes, every tear is wiped from their eyes as they serve in the heavenly temple.  They hunger and thirst no more!

In both passages in Revelation then, the idea of a “great tribulation” refers to events occurring at various points between Christ’s own tribulation on the cross and the end of the age.  As Beale puts it, “the great tribulation has begun with Jesus’ own sufferings and shed blood, and all who follow him must likewise suffer through it.”  Beale goes on to say this is the point of passages such as Revelation 1:9 (where John states he is already a participant in tribulation because he follows Christ); Colossians 1:24; and 1 Peter 4:1-7, 12-13 (cf. G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation, 433-435).

While Jesus speaks of “great tribulation” in connection with the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple--the events of A.D 70 (Matthew 24:21)--in Revelation, John speaks of such periods of “great tribulation” as re-occurring throughout the course of this age, perhaps even intensifying at time of the end.

So, with that in mind, we are now in a position to answer Jeremy’s questions.

1).  "Where does the tribulation fit?"

 We may face tribulation at any point throughout the course of the interadvental age.  In the providence of God, we may even face a time of “great tribulation.”

2).  "Are we living in it now?"

Yes and no.  While we live in an age where unbelievers and government authorities will attempt to persecute us or deceive us, it is surely not right for me (in answering this question) to compare my current situation (indeed, my life-long situation), with a Christian who lives in Darfur, or in China, or in a Muslim nation.  Some of God’s people will face unspeakable rage and hatred throughout this period.  Some will be martyred, and many will live in depravation.  Others will be spared and prosper greatly.  The reason as to why one suffers and another does not, is to be found not in the worthiness of the individual Christian, but in the mysterious providence of God.

3).  "Will it be a distinct time before the return of Christ?"

 Not in the sense taught by dispensationalists who believe in a seven year tribulation which is tied to the fulfillment of Daniel 9:24-27.  I believe this to be a messianic prophecy already fulfilled in Christ.  But will there be increasing tribulation (both in intensity and frequency) before the time of the end?  I would say that is a real possibility, and that Scripture warns us that we may be called to suffer during a time of "great tribulation", while at the same time encouraging us with God's promise of all-sufficient grace under the most difficult of circumstances.  

Reader Comments (34)

Hi Kim,

I am curious if you have heard Jim McClarty's
2 messages responding to a paper you had written on amillenialism.

They are message 091 and 092 at

May 21, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip
Uh Oh, I sense a political maneuver here. Now you are saying there may be a "Great Tribulation" like scenario coming ? Aren't you, Todd Wilken, Hank Hannagraff and the like the ones that try to categorize us "Dispensationalists" into "Doomsday Cult's" that "Live by the News Headlines" ?

May 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterZechariah
"full-preterism, which is considered a heresy"

Considered a heresy by what and who?
May 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterVirgil
>Considered a heresy by what and who?

Full preterism necessitates an unorthodox view of the resurrection.
May 22, 2008 | Unregistered Commenter"lee n. field"
Why not just erase the word "GREAT" from the Bible? You have relegated something called the "GREAT" tribulation to general sufferings that seem to ebb and flow like the tides. Matthew 24:21 refers to a "GREAT" tribulation. Unlike the Daniel passage, Jesus says that this suffering is GREATER than anything mankind has ever experienced or ever will experience. I don't think the Roman sacking of Jerusalem qualifies. Further, verse 22 states, "if the days of this "GREAT tribulation" are not cut short, the elect will not survive."

Jesus spoke of tribulation in this life. He also spoke of a "mega" tribulation that would take place immediately before the second coming. I think you have attempted to allegorize this event away.
May 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPaul

Point of clarification--I happen to believe that the events of AD 70 were a time of "great tribulation," such that Jerusalem and Israel will never experience anything like them again.

But same phrase is used by John twice in the Book of Revelation to speak of events after AD 70. This has to be considered as well.

May 22, 2008 | Registered CommenterKim Riddlebarger
Dr. R. wrote: "I happen to believe that the events of AD 70 were a time of "great tribulation," such that Jerusalem and Israel will never experience anything like them again."

Jerusalem and Israel may very well experience worse. Iran is developing nuclear weapons and they have pledged to destroy Israel. If a nuclear weapon is detonated in Jerusalem, it will make Titus' work look like child's play.

Further, immediately following the events of 70 A.D., Jesus did not return to earth, all the tribes of the earth did not mourn and the elect were not gathered by the angels. It seems a better fit to place the Great Tribulation spoken of by Jesus in the context of Revelation 7:14.

Lastly, the "great tribulation" of Revelation 2:22 is quite different from Matt. 24:21 and Rev. 7:14.
Rev. 2 refers to an impending judgment upon the woman Jezebel and her lovers unless they repent.
May 22, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPaul
I am a full preterist and my doctrine of the resurrection of Jesus is orthodox. I believe that he was raised bodily from real death after three days by the power of God. This is the typical preterist view. The problem most people have is with the preterist view of the resurrection of the believer. Paul says in ephesians that he has already raised us. He has raised us to sit in the heavenlies with Christ. These clear biblical passages give great credence to a resurrection that for the believer that is not bodily, but is spiritual. In Hebrews 11 it talks of those who recieved their loved ones raised (bodily) from the dead, and yet it declares that they sought a "BETTER" resurrection. Tell me, what is better than the physical bodily resurrection? It would have to be a spiritual resurrection. To call the full preterist an heretic for his view that is clearly based on clear texts of scripture is to over extend ones role in judging a brother. I know of no full preterist whose view of the resurrection of Christ is anything but orthodox...If they deny the bodily resurrection of Christ, then they are an heretic...but they are not a preterist.

I welcome any discussion.
May 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJeff
"Tell me, what is better than the physical bodily resurrection? It would have to be a spiritual resurrection."

This statement betrays a false, Platonic dichotomy in the first place and asks a question Judeo-Christinaity doesn't. I like both my created body and soul. I'll have my cake and eat it, too, thanks. I'll leave asking moot questions to others.

"To call the full preterist an heretic for his view that is clearly based on clear texts of scripture is to over extend ones role in judging a brother."

It seems Biblicism is a potent tonic. And there are two kinds of judging, Jeff, good and bad. Remember, even Paul got up in Peter's face about the latter's seating arrangements. If you doubt that it's a good thing that "there are divisions amongst you to show who has the favor of God," something tells me you have a few things to say to our Mormon friends about their false religion. Tell me, is that being judgmental, the bad kind I mean?

What do you do with the creedal proposition, "I believe in the resurrection of the body"?
May 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterZrim
"What do you do with the creedal proposition, "I believe in the resurrection of the body"?"

I tell those who are creedal to leave behind their creeds and adopt a sola scriptura approach to theology, then I quote
1 Corinthians 15:50
"Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption."

Which is in the context of 1 Corinthians 15:42-44

42. "So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:"
43. "It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:"
44. "It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body."

"Sown a natural body"...meaning this physical earthly flesh is put int the ground. "Raised a SPIRITUAL BODY"...meaning the physical is left in the ground and something else is raised. But Paul clearly teaches a spiritual resurrection.

But then again in your refutation of my post, you used no scripture, only accused of a "platonic dichotomy". That surely is useful for berean brotherly discussion. Howsabout we discuss Pauls teaching.

1 Corinthains 15:42-44 is in the context of 1 Corinthians 15:35-36...
35. "But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?"
36. "Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:"

Paul proposes what he expects to be the question regarding resurrection..."...With what BODY do they come?" Paul initially answers by saying..."YOU FOO!!" Which to me indicates that it is not even the appropriate question. But when he gets around to answering it in 42-44 he gives three distinct characteristics of that body.

42..."It is raised in INCORRUPTION."
43..."It is raised in POWER."
44..."It is raised a SPIRITUAL BODY."

Somebody PLEASE show me anywhere in the text a statement from Paul that demands a physical bodily resurrection? It ain't there.

So the scripture by way of the apostle Paul and by inspiration of the Holy Spirit teaches that the believers have a spiritual resurrection.

Let me remind you that I fully affirm a bodily physical resurrection of the savior Jesus Christ. But not so with the beliver.

If we are to discuss this biblically and rationally, let's avoid the accusation of using philosphy (platonic or otherwise) and let's stick to the exposition of the scripture where the truth is only to be found.

May God bless you even in our disagreement.

May 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJeff
Sorry, there were four descriptions of the resurrection Body in 1 Cor 15:42-44. I missed "Glory"

42..."It is raised in INCORRUPTION."
43..."It is raised in GLORY."
43..."It is raised in POWER."
44..."It is raised a SPIRITUAL BODY."

But you will note in this four fold description of the ressurected body...NONE of them even hint of a physical fleshly body. As a matter of fact they seem to contradict a physical body. Our physical body is corrupt, our resurrected body is incorrupt. Our physical is inglorious, our raised is glorious. Our physical is weak...our raised body is powerful. Our physical body is physical...our raised body is SPIRITUAL.
May 23, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJeff

Point of clarification--I happen to believe that the events of AD 70 were a time of "great tribulation," such that Jerusalem and Israel will never experience anything like them again.

What do you base this conclusion on ? And if this is simply your opinion, and you have no scriptural basis for it, why do you engage in these Dispensational Smear Campaigns ?

Why do you think the Jerusalem is immune to further times of "great tribulation" ?

I noticed you like to bag on John Woolvard, and regularly deny the importance of oil in relation to End Times. Perhaps when you are paying $8 a gallon, and 40% of the work force in Anaheim is out of work and stealing from your home and church to eat, perhaps you will begin to realize he wasn't as "kooky" as you portray him as.
May 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterZechariah

You are such a kind and gracious man. And so brave too, to leave drive-by posts like this anonymously.

I must say, you do more to harm your cause then I ever could.
May 27, 2008 | Registered CommenterKim Riddlebarger

You are such a kind and gracious man. And so brave too, to leave drive-by posts like this anonymously.

I must say, you do more to harm your cause then I ever could. <<<

What exactly is my "cause" in your opinion? I am merely asking questions, I have heard the interviews (with Wilken, Yourself and others) and read your articles attempting to turn this debate from one of "right and wrong "into one that is simply "controversial (regarding your "critique" of Macarthur's Shepherds Conference Sermon).

I am not the only person asking these questions about your debating tactics and labels, it just appears that I am the only one asking on this blog. Would you like me to post my name and phone number here ? If that is what you are asking I would be glad to do it.

Amillenialism in some form has been around for a long time, I am not attempting to "prove" anything, what I am asking/pointing out is the labelling and strawman tactics used by yourself and peers attempting to lump Dispenationalists into the Tim Lahaye crowd.

Did you or did you not ridicule John Woolvard and Mark Hitchcock just several months ago in your "Wacky World of Evangelicalism" forum ?
Is that "helping" your cause or tearing down someone else's ?

How many different flavors are there in the Amil camp ? Would that not fit into some type of Wacky forum as well ?

May 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterZechariah
>>>>Perhaps when you are paying $8 a gallon . . . perhaps you will begin to realize . . .<<<<

For gas to reach $8.00/gallon, the price of oil would probably have to double. I would like to think that before that happens, anyone and everyone that has an oil well will start pumping oil. The Middle Eastern advantage is their ability to bring it out of the ground much less expensively than the rest of the world. However, every day oil prices rise is more incentive for drillers all over the globe to fire up their dormant wells.

Oil is not going away as an indispensible commodity. I happen to think the bubble is going to burst sooner or later and the OPEC cartel is going to be feeling the pain. The "invisible hand" of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations is going to slap their face. Hard.

BTW, I never disparaged Walvoord.
May 27, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPaul

Here's my "two cents" re: your remarks about resurrection.

The concept of the bodily resurrection of believers, though reflected in the creeds, is firmly rooted in Scripture.

You cited I Corinthians 15, and Paul's statements about a spiritual body, as well as a glorious and powerful body. Actually, there are many contrasts in this chapter between our present and future bodies, and Paul points out that our future bodies will be immortal and imperishable, as well as glorious and powerful, and spiritual and heavenly.

There is no problem with a bodily resurrection entailing a body that is glorious and powerful, and immortal and imperishable! All of these attributes can be true of a resurrected body.

Indeed, Paul speaks in I Corinthians 15 of the resurrection of the body (cf. esp. vv. 35-49). He does so as well in Philippians 3:20,21 where he points out that Jesus will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory.

Furthermore, Romans 8:11 mentions the fact that God will yet give life to our mortal bodies, and Romans 8:23 refers to the redemption of our bodies.

You say you believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Yet Philippians 3:20,21 indicates that our bodies are that which will be transformed and conformed to the body of Jesus. And I Corinthians 15:20-28 declares that Jesus' resurrection is the firstfruits of the resurrection of believers.

If Jesus' own resurrection was bodily in nature, and we are to be conformed to His resurrection, then it's a most reasonable conclusion that we too will experience a bodily resurrection. Such a body, according to I Corinthians 15:35-49, will be similar in some ways yet different in other ways than our present bodies.

The picture of this future bodily resurrection of believers is found not only in the bodily resurrection of Jesus, but also in Jesus' raising of individuals such as Lazarus in John 11. Surely the restoration of Lazarus to life was bodily in nature. It was also the occasion for Jesus' strong assertion about the resurrection in John 11:25,26.

The fact that Paul alludes to spiritual/heavenly bodies is not out of sorts with the above. The body to come originates from another sphere: from the Spirit, and from Jesus - the One who came from heaven to earth.

And the fact that Hebrews 11:35 speaks of a better resurrection, in reference to the women who received their dead back by resurrection, speaks not of a "spiritual body" but of the fact that the resurrection body will surely be better than, say, the pre-death bodies to which those raised during the ministries of Elijah and Elisha were merely restored.

The entire preterist notion of a heavenly/spiritual existence seems to me to fly in the face of all the Scriptural evidence that we are looking not only for the transformation of our spirits but also for the transformation of our bodies ... and not only for a new heaven but also for a new earth (cf. II Pet. 3 and Rev. 21/22, as well as Mt. 19:28; Acts 3:21; Rom. 8:19-22; Col. 1:20 with Eph. 1:10 in reference to the regeneration and restoration and redemption and reconciliation of all things in heaven and on earth - i.e., the summing up of all such things in Christ).

God, in raising the dead physically when Jesus returns, is in the business of destroying the last enemy, death itself - including physical death (cf. I Cor. 15:20-28; cf. also Heb. 2:14,15). A full salvation is both already and not yet: We've already been raised up with Christ and seated with Him in the heavenlies (per Eph. 2:4-6), but we've not yet experienced our final inheritance and redemption - of which the presence of God's Spirit is a pledge (per Eph. 1:13,14). The Spirit already gives to us (Rom. 8:10), but God has not yet given life to our mortal bodies (Rom. 8:11).

Accordingly, I'm looking for what Job expressed: "I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God; whom I myself shall behold, and whom my eyes shall see and not another."

May 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterWayne Rohde
Very simply, a spiritual BODY is still a BODY!
May 28, 2008 | Unregistered Commentergil
I did not say that a "spiritual body is not a body". But I did clearly show with the sripture that THE spiritual body is NOT a PHYSICAL BODY. I do not deny the "Bodily" resurrection of the believer...I just believe it takes the form of a "Spiritual Body". The fact that our resurrection will be like Christs glorious resurrection does not demand a physical body...(flesh and blood will NOT inherit the Jesus resurrection was was ours. Jesus resurrection was was ours. Jesus resurrection was by the power of was ours...Our resurrection being like Christ's does not demand that it be physical. And oh by the way I am glad to see that you understand that your use of Lazarus's resurrection is illegitamet in this discussion. Even Lazarus HOPED for a BETTER resurrection...(see Hebrews 11). Again...tell me...if it is BETTER than the physical resurrection that Lazarus experienced...where do we go from that physical resurrection to obtain a better resurrection??? It has to be spiritual.
May 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJeff

In your latest post you write, "I did not say that 'a spiritual body is not a body.' "

However, in your first post, in referring to Paul's statement that believers have already been raised up with Christ and seated with Him in the heavenlies, you did indeed say, "These clear biblical passages give great credence to a resurrection ... for the believer that is not bodily, but is spiritual." And when asked what you do with the credal proposition "I believe in the resurrection of the body," you replied that you tell people to leave their creeds behind.

What do such statements indicate, other than a denial of the bodily resurrection of believers?

But I will accept your current explanation that what you deny is not the bodily resurrection of believers per se, but rather the concept of a bodily resurrection of believers that is physical in nature as opposed to spiritual in nature.

You place a great deal of emphasis on two observations from I Corinthians 15: (1) that v. 44 (cf. vv. 45,46) speaks of a "spiritual" body; and (2) that v. 50 states that "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God."

You also point out the contrast between dishonorable/weak bodies and glorious/powerful bodies, and between corruptible bodies and incorruptible bodies, concluding that these contrasts also support your view that our current bodies are physical/fleshly bodies but that our raised bodies are spiritual bodies which cannot be physical/fleshly bodies.

In responding to such assertions, I'll address the last point first.

Surely Jesus' own resurrection from the dead (even in your view) entailed a bodily resurrection that was physical in nature. Scripture asserts such repeatedly (cf., e.g., Lk. 24:36-43). The physical body that was placed in the tomb was the very body that was raised from the dead. Though Jesus' resurrection body was clearly glorious (cf. Phil. 3:21) and powerful (cf. Rom. 1:4) and incorruptible (cf. Heb. 7:16 with Heb. 7:23f), it was most definitely a physical body. So your claim that a body which is glorious and powerful and incorruptible cannot, by definition, be physical in nature really holds no water.

Once again, you fail to reckon with the simple truth that our resurrection body is to be patterned after Jesus' resurrection body. As Paul puts it in Philippians 3:21, Jesus will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory. Inasmuch as His resurrection body was physical in nature, and inasmuch as our own resurrection bodies will be like His resurrection body, the conclusion is inevitable: Our resurrection bodies will also be physical in nature.

When Paul speaks of the "dishonorable" giving way to the "glorious" (I Cor. 15:43) and the "weak" giving way to the "powerful" (I Cor. 15:43), as well as to the "perishable" giving way to the "imperishable" (I Cor. 15:42,53f; cf. also vv. 50,52) and the "mortal" giving way to the "immortal" (I Cor. 15:53f), the contrast is not between that which is physical and that which is not physical but spiritual, but between bodies that are now marked by suffering and humiliation and bodies that, at the resurrection, will be characterized by glory and exaltation.

As to your use of I Corinthians 15:44 ("a spiritual body") and I Corinthians 15:50 ("flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God"), neither verse denies the physical nature of the future resurrection bodies of believers.

Why not?

(1) In the case of "a spiritual body" (v. 44; cf. also vv. 45f), the contrast is not between a physical body and a non-physical, spiritual body (as implied in the RSV), but between a "soul" (Gk. psychikos) body and a spiritual (Gk. pneumatikos) body. Even you would agree with the normal intrepretation of v. 44 to the effect that our "soul" body (translated "natural body" in many versions) is physical in nature! Why then suppose that a spiritual body is non-material in nature? Furthermore, the same terms are found in I Corinthians 2:14,15 where Paul contrasts believers with unbelievers. Verse 14 speaks of the unbeliever as the "soul" man, and verse 15 of the believer as the "spiritual" man. In each case, such men live in physical bodies! The soul/spirit contrast of I Corinthians 15:44-46 seems to reflect the earth/heaven contrast of I Corinthians 15:47-49, including the notion that whereas our current bodies are patterned after Adam: the man from earth, our resurrection bodies will be patterned after Christ: the Man from heaven (note how I Cor. 15:45-49 is linked to and explanatory of I Cor. 15:44).

(2) In the case of "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God" (v. 50), it's important to see how the term "flesh and blood" is used elsewhere in the New Testament - namely in Matthew 16:17, where the contrast is between the human and the divine (what Peter said originated not in man but in God), and in Ephesians 6:12, where the contrast is between the human and the angelic (where the battle rages is not between men but with demons). Indeed, the other reference to "flesh and blood" in the New Testament, namely Hebrews 2:14, is also used of humanity: "Since the children share in flesh and blood ... He Himself likewise partook of the same."

The idea, then, in I Corinthians 15:50 is not that physical bodies will not inherit the kingdom of God, but that bodies in their fragility will not inherit the kingdom of God. This is the same truth Paul has been emphasizing in the previous verses, when he speaks of the dishonorable and the weak and the perishable giving way to that which is glorious and powerful and imperishable. Indeed, the second and parallel thought of I Corinthians 15:50 bears this out: Just as we can say that "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God," so we can say that "neither does the perishable inherit the imperishable."

(Furthermore, if the statement "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God" means that the physical cannot inherit the kingdom, then what are we to make of the King of kings Himself, who experienced a physical resurrection? Is He to be banned from His own kingdom? And, as I mentioned in my initial response, isn't the consummated kingdom a universal kingdom entailing the whole of creation: heaven and earth - i.e., spiritual and physical?)

Despite all of your physical vs. non-physical contrasts, and your notion that I Corinthians 15 "contradicts" the idea of a physical resurrection, the antitheses upon which you insist are repeatedly false antitheses.

In addition to the above, let me also address the following words you penned, "The physical is left in the ground and something else is raised."

Such a statement is clearly not true of what happened to the body of Jesus (as you would agree). But such a statement is also clearly not true of what will happen to the bodies of believers! When Paul was asked, "How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?" (I Cor. 15:35), he answered, "That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies" (I Cor. 15:36), and he went on to say, "This perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality" (I Cor. 15:53; cf. also v. 54). Such verses indicate that the very body which dies is the very body which is subsequently raised!

Our bodies, then, do not give way to different bodies. And our physical bodies do not give way to spiritual bodies - in the sense of non-physical bodies. (A body, by its very definition, is physical in nature.) Rather, our current physical bodies, which are dishonorable, weak, perishable, mortal, earthly and "soul" bodies, will, at the resurrection, give way to physical bodies, which will be glorious, powerful, imperishable, immortal, heavenly and spiritual bodies.

And this explains the concept of a better resurrection. The resurrection which believers anticipate is not a spiritual resurrection as opposed to a physical resurrection, but a physical resurrection of the very bodies which are placed in the grave at death. And the contrast in Hebrews 11:35, therefore, can simply reflect the difference between bodies that are merely resuscitated (and thus still liable to death), and bodies which are physically raised never to die again.

May 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterWayne Rohde
kim betrays a simple arguement about "the end of the age" i ask, dear kim, WHAT age? hebrews (as well as the entire new testament) make clear that the end of the age is the same as the end of this present age or the end of the old covenant age. kim gives us a gnostic view of this age that is 2k and still ticking.
June 1, 2008 | Unregistered Commentertodd stevenson

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