The question of the relationship of the Torah to Christ and the New Covenant body is one that continues to perplex many students. One of our visitors sent us a list of questions posed by Dan Billingsley, of Texas. Mr. Billingsley has some unique takes on the question of Torah. We agree with some, but believe his final analysis is misplaced and in error. Below is the correspondence I shared with our visitor and the quetions he sent to me.
Brother Mickey ________, thank you for submitting the queries below from Mr. Billingsley. These are good important issues that have a direct impact on our understanding of what we call the New Testament. See my comments below in the appropriate places.
Don K. Preston
—– Original Message —–From: ____________Sent: Tuesday, August 25, 2009 8:30 AMSubject: Rightly Dividing The Word Of Truth–Is Mathew Mark Luke And John Describing Jesus B4 The Cross New Testament?From Dan Billingsley— “Brethren, a misunderstanding of the Old Testament age and doctrine of the law of Moses in the four books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John — before the cross — is the basic cause of all brotherhood misinterpretation division and doctrinal confusion today.Don K. Preston’s Response: This is undoubtedly true to a great extent. The old axiom, “a text out of context is a pretext,” is certainly true. What has happened, and continues to happen, is that many Bible students fail to recognize that Jesus was a prophet of Israel, for Israel, and he came to keep Torah, (“I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill”), and to show its true meaning. So what we have in the “gospels” is Jesus as an authoritative “rabbi” if I may use the term, so often saying, “you have heard it said, but I say to you…”. Jesus was explaining the true meaning of Torah. He was not necessarily, especially in these types of passages, giving the New Covenant message! He was explaining what Torah truly meant, the meaning they had ignored or perverted!In a sincere effort to restore unity and save the church from error, would you please consider and answer the following three questions:1. When did the authority and jursidiction of the“end”?Don K. Preston’s Response: This is a wide ranging question– and answer. I will give as brief explanation as I can.Torah did not end at the Cross– and it did not end at Pentecost. Those texts that are normally appealed to in support of the Law passing at the Cross do not support this view. When examined closely they tell us that those coming into Christ were dying to the Law.Torah was still present and binding on the Jews– outside of Christ– until AD 70.Torah had not yet past away when Hebrews was written– Hebrews 8:13; 12:25-28).Those who were coming into Christ were dying to Torah (Romans 7:4-14), but, it was not Torah that had died. There is a huge difference between dying to Christ and the Law passing!Torah could not pass until it was all, not part, not most, but ALL, fulfilled (Matthew 5:17-18)– and that occurred in AD 70 (Luke 21:22).The period between Christ’s incarnation and his parousia in AD 70 was the transitional period between the New Covenant and the Old Paul was very emphatic that his ministry was for the purpose of bringing that Covenanal transformation to reality. Torah was in the process of passing– “we are being transformed from glory to glory” through the Spirit and Paul’s ministry– “wherefore, seeing we have received this ministry…” (2 Corinthians 3:13-4:1f). So, it is patently clear that Torah had not passed at the Cross or Pentecost.The role of the Spirit in covenantal transformation cannot be over-emphasized. According to the OT prophecies, it would be through the Spirit in the last days, that Israel’s promises– which included the promise of the New Covenant– were to be fulfilled. Now,since the Spirit was not given to the apostles to begin the revelatory process until Pentecost, and…since it is patently clear that the New Covenant was not fully revealed on Pentecost, and…since it is clear that the Old Covenant was still in the process of being fulfilled during that period, then…this amounts to virtually prima facie evidence / demonstration that the Old Covenant did not pass at Pentecost, but, as the texts cited demonstrate, was in the process of growing old and was “nigh unto passing away.”The gospel which included the impending end of Torah and the Old Covenant world, had to be preached into all the world– to the Jew first– before the Old could be swept away, and the New fully set in place. This was an expression of God’s longsuffering and grace.2. Was the time between the “end” of the Old and “beginning” of thethe fifty days betweenthe cross and the day of Pentecost, or the 450 years between the time of Malachi and Matthew?Don K. Preston’s Response: We are only given two choices herre, and both are wrong in my estimation. While the gospel began to be proclaimed in Acts 2, the system and covenant was not fully delivered and confirmed at that point. The Old had not yet passed away. This is why Peter said “Save yourselves from this untoward generation.” The climactic, consummative catastrophe that would bring the Old Covenant world to its end was not Pentecost, it was coming however, in that generation. This was the message of John the Immerser as Elijah, who was to call Israel to obedience to Torah before the Great Day of the Lord (Malachi 3-4).The “time of the end” therefore, was the period between the appearing of John the Immerser, who proclaimed “the wrath about to come,” and the fulfillment of his prediction in AD 70.3. When did the New Testament age and revelation of doctrine begin?Don K. Preston’s Response: There was a transitional period of time. Matthew tells us that the Law and the prophets were until John. John did not terminate Torah, but, instituted the last days period of time in which fulfillment of Torah was to occur (The time is fulfilled, the Kingdom of heaven has drawn near”
Mark 1:15– and Matthew 3:2– John and Jesus both knew the predicted last days had arrived.)John did not preach the New Covenant. He was focused, just as Malachi had predicted, on calling Israel to observance of Torah. This demands that his prediction of the Great Day of the Lord must likewise be kept within the confines of Torah, and Torah wrath provisions if they did not heed his call. This is precisely what happened of course.So, while Jesus gave New Covenant instructions from time to time during his ministry, he was not, as I see it, providing full revelation of the gospel. I am not by any means denying that he revealed a good deal of the gospel message. (see Luke 24; Acts 1). I am simply saying that this fell to the apostles, inspired by the Spirit (John 14-16), to fully reveal the New Covenant message. This began on Pentecost, continued in the last days period, and was finished in the first century before the fall of Jerusalem. This was in fulfillment of Daniel 9:24f. (You might see my book Seal Up Vision and Prophecy for a fuller discussion and vindication of this).So, Torah fully ended in AD 70 because just as Jesus predicted, that is when it was all fulfilled. And, the New Covenant that had been being revealed and confirmed was not fully delivered and fully confirmed. This is when the “age to come” the Messianic Kingdom, was fully in place, perfected, manifested and vindicated.This is how I see it. Hope it helps!Don K. Preston
President Preterist Research Institute
Answering Christianity’s Greatest Challenge
Dialogue When Possible
Debate When Necessary
At All Times CharityAs a PS to the above– It is my understanding that Ed Steven’s has been doing extensive research on the completion of the NT revelation before AD 70. I am personally eager to see what Ed has developed. This is a very important issue.Don K