We recently received an inquiry concerning the Hymenaean Heresy, and the claims that the resurrection had already occurred when 2 Timothy was written (2 Timothy 2:18). This is one of the most common objections lodged against Covenant Eschatology. I am glad to offer a few thoughts in response. Here is the inquirer’s question.
—- Original Message —– From:…….
To: Don Preston
Sent: Tuesday, November 09, 2010 5:28 PM
Subject: RE: Question on Millennium
I am listening to your interview about the book 70 Weeks are Determined for the Resurrection (which I don’t have a copy of yet, or the one about Babylon). This is the second time I have heard you raise the objection about the 2 Thess. 2, I believe the other was in a debate. It raises a very good point. However, could it not be that looking in the tombs and graves was not really an option? Wasn’t desecrating graves against even Roman law back then?
Dear…., let me put my thoughts like this: The traditional view of the resurrection– as you know, I am sure — is that it is the time when every grave, of every person who has ever lived suddenly flies open. Likewise, even those who have not been buried, but who died in the sea, or simply decomposed into the dust, are instantantly re-constituted, reformed and restored. With this concept in mind, would a Roman law against descecrating graves matter for one single moment? 🙂
Who would the Romans punish for this happening?
How could they Romans prevent such a (divine) action? Such an event would clearly not be limited to Judea. Incidentally, are you aware that archaeologists have found a first century “sign”, a decree posted by Roman authorities in Nazareth, forbidding the opening of graves. It is about the only place such a decree was posted! Makes you wonder why they would post such a decree in such an out of the way place, does it not?
Anyway, so, the question once again becomes: How could Hymenaeaus and Philetus convince anyone that such an event as the resurrection– in the traditional view of eschatology– had already happened?
#1– If the traditional view of the resurrection had already occurred, no one would have to “instruct” or “teach” anyone that it had happened, for it would be undeniably evident, would it not?
In fact, no one could deny that the resurrection was past, if the traditional view of that event had occurred! Everyone would be in eternity, looking back at the event. In that scenario, anyone denying that the resurrection was past would be, how could we say this, unaware that they were in either heaven or hell! Would that be possible?!!?!!
#2 — So, if the traditional view of the resurrection had already occurred, no one could deny it!
#3– Consider 2 Thessalonians as a partner passage on this. Some were teaching– via epistles as well as personal teaching — that the Day of the Lord had already come. Well, the Day of the Lord– per the traditional view — is when earth, the very universe!! — is destroyed, right down to the atomic level, right? Also, time ends. No one is left on earth, cause earth no longer exists. Okay, ask yourself the question: How could anyone, convince anyone, that such an event had already happened? I mean, consider this: You are sitting in church services when someone reads a letter claiming to be from Paul. The letter tells you that the earth had been burned up, that time had ended, and every grave of every human who has ever lived had come out, let’s say, three months ago!
Really? Would you, could you, could anyone, take such a letter seriously, having the traditional concept of the Day of the Lord? Yet, Paul told the Thessalonians not to be convinced by an epistle– claiming to be from him– that the Day of the Lord had already come!
By the way, I have written a book on this very topic. It is entitled How Is This Possible? (Additional note: I have also produced an audio series: The Hymenaean Heresy: Reverse the Charges!) It is a very powerful demonstration that neither the Ephesians (2 Timothy) or the Thessalonians (or anyone) could have held to the traditional view of the resurrection and the Day of the Lord, and have believed it had already occurred. And of course, the thing is, Paul never, ever corrected the claims as to the nature of the resurrection or the Day of the Lord. He simply corrected the timing of the event. This has profound implications!