ACTS 3 AND THE PASSING OF THE OLD COVENANT
Peter says the parousia could not occur until the prophetic declarations of restoration had been fulfilled. The prophets are the Old Covenant prophets, Moses, “and all those who have spoken, from Samuel forward.” Peter is emphatic about his expectation and the divine necessity for the yet future to him, fulfillment of the Old Covenant! This is tacitly acknowledged by commentators who seemingly fail to grasp the significance of their own comments. J. W. McGarvey says of the OT prophecies referred to by Peter, “Not till all are fulfilled will Christ come again.”
In Matthew 5:17-18 Jesus stated that, “not one jot nor one tittle shall pass from the Law until it is all fulfilled.” Most amillennialists (e.g. McGarvey, 259) believe the Old Testament was removed at the Cross; yet they assert that the Old Testament prophecies will be valid until the parousia! How could the Old Testament have been removed at the Cross and yet mankind be awaiting its fulfillment at Christ’s coming? This is a major contradiction to say the least.
The Old Covenant could not pass until it was all fulfilled (Matthew 5:17-18).
All of the Old Covenant had not been fulfilled at the time of Peter’s speech in Acts 3 (Acts 3:21).
Therefore the Old Covenant had not passed at the time of Peter’s speech in Acts 3.
The Old Covenant could not pass until it was all fulfilled (Matthew 5:17-18). All of the Old Covenant would be fulfilled at the parousia of Jesus (Acts 3:21) Therefore, the Old Covenant could not pass until the parousia of Jesus.
The Old Covenant could not pass (would remain valid) until it was all fulfilled (Matthew 5:17-18). The Old Covenant System was symbolic (prophetic) of coming things and would stand (remain valid) until the time of reformation (i.e. the time of fulfillment, Hebrews 9:6-10). The Old Covenant System was still unfulfilled when Hebrews was written (Hebrews 9:9; circa A. D. 60+). Therefore the Old Covenant Law and System was still standing (still valid) when Hebrews was written (A.D. 60+).
The Old Covenant Law and System could not pass until it was all fulfilled (Matthew 5:17-18). But all of the Old Covenant would be fulfilled by the time of and in the events of the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 (Luke 21:22). Therefore the Old Covenant Law and System could not pass until the time of and in the events of the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
This truth was recognized, although perhaps not fully appreciated, by the early church writers. Eusebius, fourth century church historian, wrote of the passing of the Old Covenant Law and the full establishment of the New:
“Moses himself foresaw by the Holy Spirit that when the New covenant was revived by Christ and preached to all nations, his own legislation would become superfluous, he rightly confined its influence to one place, so that if they were ever deprived of it and shut out of that national freedom, it might not be possible for them to carry out the ordinances of his law in a foreign country, and of necessity they would have to receive the new covenant announced by Christ. Moses had foretold this very thing and in due course Christ sojourned in this life, and the teaching of the new covenant was borne to all nations, and at once the Romans besieged Jerusalem and destroyed it and the Temple there. At once the whole of the Mosaic law was abolished, with all that remained of the Old Covenant, and the curse passed over to those who became lawbreakers because they obeyed Moses’ law, when its time had gone by, and still clung ardently to it, for at that very moment, the perfect teaching of the new Law was introduced in its place.”
The astute student will immediately see the eschatological implications of Eusebius’ quote. In Matthew 24:14, after being asked for a sign of his coming and the end of the age (v. 3), Jesus said, “this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness to the nations, then comes the end.” Eusebius clearly implies that the “end” was at the destruction of the Jewish polity.
To affirm that the Old Testament prophetic hopes ended at the Cross and that Christ gave a new set of eschatological predictions is to deny what Peter says. Peter’s hope of the parousia was tied inextricably to the fulfillment of Moses, Samuel and all the prophets. The parousia would bring those prophets to fulfillment.
What this proves beyond dispute is that NT eschatology is the reiteration of the OT promises that God made to Old Covenant Israel. I made this point repeatedly in my public debate with Joel McDurmon, at the Preterist Pilgrim Weekend, July 2012. DVDs of the debate are available here.
If the prophecies of the “restoration of all things” foretold by the Old Testament have not been fulfilled the Old Covenant stands valid and in force today (Matthew 5:17-18). After all, how could the Old Testament promises that Peter said must be fulfilled be valid if the Covenant was not still valid? This point was devastating to Joel McDurmon in our formal debate in July 2012. McDurmon tried several tactics to escape the force of Jesus’ words in Matthew 5- all to no avail. Be sure to get a copy of the DVDs of that debate here
If the Old Covenant promises of the restoration of all things have been fulfilled–and the Law removed–Christ must have come. The parousia was to be the crowning act of fulfillment and restoration. Any attempt to posit the revelation of Christ into the future implicitly reestablishes the Old Covenant and Israel as the Covenant people awaiting her promises. More to come!