Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Hymenaean Heresy? Some thoughts on resurrection and law.

Is there a sense in which the resurrection had already taken place when Paul wrote the following words? What do you think?

2 Timothy 2:16-18

But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some.

For me, this verse raises a few questions. What argument would these two men offer to demonstrate that the resurrection had already taken place? What kind of resurrection did they mean, spiritual or physical? If spiritual, then how would that upset the faith of some? If physical, then wouldn't that mean that their own resurrections had already taken place and wouldn't that upset their own faiths? If the physical resurrection had already taken place, then their physical bodies hadn't been raised, or maybe they had. I really don't understand this passage. It is fun to use against those evil Preterists though. It's easy to point out that the resurrection obviously hadn't taken place when this verse was written, around 67ad. It's easy because most people don't know that Preterists also believe that the resurrection hadn't happened at that time. Every Preterist that I've ever read or heard says that the resurrection took place in 70ad, some three years later. So this verse totally misses the Preterist target. It misses by a mile.

It would be nice for those who like to say "Hyper-Preterism" if this verse were written after 70ad, but it wasn't. Sorry. This verse is moot.

1 Corinthians 15:56,57

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Bees sting and death stings. The sting of a bee is what hurts us. The sting of death is what hurts us. Sin is what hurts us. The power of sin is what makes it hurt. The law is what gives sin the power to hurt us. If there is no law, then sin doesn't hurt us any more.

2 Corinthians 3:7,8

But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory?

The law is described as a ministry of death. The law gives death the power to sting us. Without the law, death has no sting. Death is made powerless.

2 Timothy 1:10

but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel

Christ abolished death by removing its sting. He made the sting of death powerless by freeing us from the law.

Hebrews 2:9

But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.

Jesus tasted death and its sting, sin, for everyone. By taking on our sins, Jesus fulfilled the entire law on behalf of everyone.

Romans 6:4

Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

Resurrection is from death to life. Law brings death and grace brings life. Resurrection is from law to grace. We were raised from a life of dead works to a new life of grace.

Romans 6:11-14

Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

Resurrection is from death to life. It is both being dead to sin and alive to God. It is an attitude of living under God's grace and not under law.

Romans 8:10

If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.

Resurrection is not about the physical body. It is the spirit rising from the death of sin and law to the righteousness provided by God's grace.

1 Peter 3:18

For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit

Notice how Peter's focus is not on our physical resurrection body. Peter focuses on our spirits being made alive.

Ephesians 2:4-7

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Resurrection is rising with Christ from the death brought about by sin and being made alive by grace.

Colossians 2:12-15

having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.

Is there any difference between the words, "raised up with Him" and the words, "resurrected with Him." Is there any difference between "canceled out" and "abolished?" The law, itself, was not abolished, but our relationship with the law was abolished.

Colossians 3:1

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

We have been resurrected with Christ.

Matthew 5:17

"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.

What is the difference between "abolish" and "fulfill?" "Abolish" means to do away with. "Fulfill" means to complete or to bring to an end. The Law and the Prophets were not merely abolished. They were completed and, therefore, brought to their end. The Law and the Prophets were to lead us to Christ. Once we come to Christ, their purpose is complete and they are no longer needed.

Galatians 3:22-25

But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.

Notice the repetition of under. We were under sin, under law and under a tutor. The idea is that we were in bondage under the authority of sin, law, and a tutor.

Galatians 4:1-5

Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything,
but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father. So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

Here again, we see that we were in bondage under the law, the elemental things of the world, the beginning principles, until the date set by the Father. Redemption speaks of paying the purchase price to release one from slavery to a master. The Law was our master but now grace is our master, thanks to Jesus paying the purchase price to redeem us out from under the authority of the Law.

1 Corinthians 15:24-26

then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death.

The authority and power of the Law was abolished with the destruction of Jerusalem, its seat of governance in 70ad.

Ephesians 2:14-16

For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.

How could Paul be any clearer? The Law was abolished through the cross!


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