The next time someone asks you if you think this or that person could be "the antichrist":
You might explain to them that it is a common misconception that the term "antichrist" in the Scriptures refers to a single individual. There is actually no such individual named or foretold in Scripture, but rather there were "many antichrists" who had come already in the first century. In fact, the apostle John cited this fact as the reason he knew with absolute certainty that it was the last hour. The reason he knew this is that Jesus had told him what signs to look for. In addition to the many "antichrists" that had come already back then, the Bible also speaks of a "spirit of antichrist," which is a lying spirit that denies Jesus is the Christ (cf. 1 John 2:22). These "spirits of antichrist" will always be in the world. But the "many antichrists" of whom Jesus and the apostles spoke are limited to a specific time period, during which Jesus predicted that all which had been written of him in the Scriptures would be fulfilled.
While eschatology is not the focus of this exegetical essay on 1 John 4:7-21, the eschatolgical *context* of the passage (including John's reference to the "many antichrists" which had already come) is strongly emphasized:
Because He First Loved Us
An Exegesis of 1 John 4:7-21 within the Context of 1 John
by Tami Jelinek
"The Coming of the Kingdom of God with Power"--in the lifetime of "some who were standing there" (Mark 8:38-9:1)
(This post is part of a series of short studies in Mark's Gospel)
What is the historical context of Jesus’ statement to his disciples, “there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power?” What are the theological implications of understanding this passage in its first century context?
The historical context of “the kingdom of God coming with power” in the lifetime of “some who were standing there” is indeed past to us, and was fulfilled at the destruction of the temple in AD 70. This is not to say that the destruction of the temple was the coming of the kingdom, but rather that it was the visible sign that all that had been written had been fulfilled. In other words, these events were not the substance of the coming of the kingdom, but rather the visible sign of its coming. Of course, the sign itself was a display of God's power, no doubt. In fulfillment of Christ's words, "not one stone was left upon another" (cf. Mark 13:2). But it was the destruction not of the temple building itself, but of what it represented--the OT law and commandments being abolished, and the "rulers of that age being brought to nothing" (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:6)--which ushered in the reign of Christ by the Gospel, and the establishment of "his government and peace which shall have no end" (Isaiah 9:6). The temple’s demise signified that the Old Covenant Age had passed away, and the New Covenant Age had begun. Jesus had indeed “made all things new” (cf. Revelation 21:5).
How one understands the nature of the kingdom will determine whether they believe it has fully come. For example, if one views kingdom promises as physical or geo-political in nature, then they may see a yet future fulfillment. Whereas if one sees kingdom promises as spiritual in nature, and applying to a kingdom “not of this world” (cf. John 18:36), and which came “without observation” (cf. Luke 17:20), which exists within the hearts of God’s people (cf. Luke 17:21), and is experienced in their communion with God and with one another in His presence (cf. Psalm 16:11; Romans 14:17; Revelation 3:20; 21:3) then they will understand that God’s kingdom has fully come. However to say the kingdom has fully come is not to say it is not ever growing and expanding, as more and more enter (cf. Isaiah 60:11; Revelation 21:25); for “His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this” (Isaiah 9:7).
Recently we were having a discussion with some friends about "heaven." We had all attended a church service a few evenings earlier, the theme of which, coincidentally, was "what will heaven be like?" One of the passages the pastor quoted at church, and that we again referred to in our dinner discussion, was this from Revelation 21:
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away (Revelation 21:4).
Our futuristically minded neighbors agreed with us that this is a description of heaven. A place of no more tears and no more sorrow. So we went on to discuss some other passages which identify the tears and the sorrow, and what removed them…we discussed the cross and the nature of our redemption. We discussed the "Revelation of Jesus Christ" and how it was not about the history of our planet, but the history of our redemption in Him, the restoration of innocence and presence with God. It struck me that while much "food for thought" had been brought to the table, the same question was still being asked, and the query remained pretty much unsatisfied: "Is this all there is?"
This is all very related to discussions even among "preterists" who acknowledge with their lips a completed redemption and yet in their hearts are far from experiencing the full impact of forgiveness. Could this be why the preterist view fails to be convincing to futurists? That often times those who present it focus on proving something that happened in the past, and have still not even experienced the impact of what they are "proving" for themselves? I am speaking of the power of the cross.
What we need, preterists and futurists alike, is revelation: The Revelation of Forgiveness. Because forgiveness *is* heaven. Forgiveness *is* home. Our futurist friends look forward to "going home" someday. So many of our preterist friends do too. No wonder we have nothing to offer to those who are seeking (regardless of their perceptions or paradigms) ultimate satisfaction and eternal comfort and rest.
As I was contemplating my neighbor's responses afterwards to our discussion of "heaven", it was very apparent that no "time statement argument" of what happened empirically in 70 AD was going to reveal forgiveness to her. And it is only *that* revelation which will answer the longing in her heart for her heavenly home. If the Bible equates forgiveness with heaven, and even supposed believers in heaven fulfilled are not acknowledging that *all* of their sin has been forgiven, then doesn't it stand to reason that this is where our focus as preterists needs to be?
Fulfilled eschatology = fulfilled redemption. I get really perplexed when people say they want to focus on soteriology rather than eschatology. The two cannot be separated, because either eschatology is fulfilled, or neither is our salvation. I just think there are a lot of "preterists" out there who have not really grasped the impact or the context of the forgiveness of sin and until they do, their "AD 70 message" is going to fall flat.
Psalm 16:11 Thou wilt show me the path of life: In thy presence is fulness of joy; At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
I have been married to my loving husband Keith for 26 years. We have three beautiful and brilliant children, ages 24, 22 and 20. Nothing cheers my heart more than having them all at home, yet nothing is more satisfying to my mind than watching them grow from afar. My personal passion is theology: the knowledge and experience of the Truth and Mercy found only in the person and work of Jesus Christ, and displayed in the lives and communion of His people. My husband and I love to travel, and because our children are often out and about in the world, we get lots of opportunities to see it! And we also love to fill our home with friends who love us, and love our wine collection.