Responding to the Critics: A Response to William Vincent’s “Until” Article- #2
Sit At My Right Hand Until I Make Your Enemies Your Footstool
Be sure to read my first installment in this series. Just recently, Mr. William Vincent, a regular poster on preterist Facebook pages, offered an article supposedly critiquing the preterist and full preterist views of eschatology. That article, “The Until Passages” claimed to present some daunting challenges to the full preterist view particularly.
In that previous article I examined the first of Vincent’s “until” passages, Acts 3:21f). Apparently, the key text for Mr. Vincent is Psalms 110:4, where we find, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.” This, we are told is the definitive text to prove a yet future “end of time” coming of Christ, when the last enemy “death” is destroyed.
Psalms 110 has been called God’s favorite verse, since it is quoted, cited and alluded to some 33 times in the NT, more than any other OT prophecy. What we have in the text, as developed in the NT, is the prediction of the enthronement of Christ – on David’s throne in the heavens – at the right hand of the Father (Cf. Acts 2:29f). Enthroned and exalted there, the Son “rules in the midst of his enemies” until the subjection of his enemies, the last enemy being death (1 Corinthians 15:21-24).
I want to insert a thought / argument here that is built on and taken from my first article. Vincent agrees that Acts 3 is built on Psalms 110. Peter said that Christ would “remain in heaven” (his enthronement at the right hand of Psalms 110) until the time of the restoration of all things” This is the time of the resurrection at the end of the age. So, since, in Vincent’s paradigm, Acts 3 and Psalms 110 are parallel (and I agree that they are), note the following. (Make sure you are familiar with my arguments in the first article to fully appreciate the following).
The coming of the Lord of Acts 3, the time of the restoration (apokatastasis) of all things, is the time when his enemies are put under him in fulfillment of Psalms 110 (Vincent agrees).
The time of the restoration of all things is also the time of reformation of Hebrews 9:10.
The time of the reformation of Hebrews 9:10 was to occur (did occur) at the end of the Law of Moses.
Therefore, the coming of the Lord at the restoration of all things– when Christ’s enemies were to be (and were) put under him in fulfillment of Psalms 110 – was at the time of reformation of Hebrews 9:10 – at the end of the Law of Moses.
As I stated in the first article, unless Mr. Vincent, or anyone else, can prove definitively that the restoration of all things in Acts 3 and the time of reformation in Hebrews 9 are totally distinct times and events, unrelated to each other, then there can be no successful refutation of this argument. But now, as we continue to Respond to the Critics, let’s buttress this conclusion by an examination of Psalms 110 and its use in the NT. And there is something else that I want to discuss, ever so briefly.
Mr. Vincent agrees that the “restoration of all things” is consummated at the parousia of Acts 3. Now, he tried to delineate between the restoration ministry of John, as Elijah, but that is not linguistically or contextually viable. Consider:
John was Elijah according to Jesus (Matthew 17:10-12).
Elijah was to “restore all things.”
Elijah was to be the sign and the herald of The Great and Terrible Day of the Lord. That Great Day would be when the wicked would be burned up, root and stock. That Great Day would also be the Day when the Sun of Righteousness would arise “with healing in his wings” (Malachi 4:1-3). Is this not the time of the restoration of all things? If not, why not?
So, what was John’s message? It was “the kingdom of heaven has drawn near” (Matthew 3:2). The kingdom is the restoration! But, John also proclaimed, “his winnowing fork is already in his hand” “the axe is already at the root”– the wicked were about to be destroyed “root and branch.” This is the time of the harvest. It is the time of the judgment. It is the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord– the time of the restoration of all things.
Mr. Vincent must find a way to totally divorce the ministry and the message of John, as Elijah, from the idea of the restoration of all things. If he cannot do that – and he can’t – this means that the fulfillment of Psalms 110 was viewed by John, and thus by Jesus, as something imminent in the first century. Be sure to get a copy of my book, Elijah Has Come: A Solution to Romans 11:25-27 for an important study of the significance of John as Elijah.
Psalms 110 teaches the ascension of the Lord (not explicitly stated, but demanded) and the enthronement at the right hand. His ruling in the midst of his enemies. While ruling in the midst of his enemies, he waits until those enemies are put under his feet at his coming. So, he rules “until” his enemies are put under him, when, we are told, he comes in judgment, at the end of the current Christian age.
Thus, in Mr. Vincent’s, and the majority view of evangelical Christianity’s, Psalms 110 awaits fulfillment at the time of the end, the end of the current Christian age. (Keep in mind that the Bible never affirms the end of time, and the Christian age has no end. Thus, on these two facts alone, Mr. Vincent’s article is refuted, but, I will not develop these issues here).
What I want to share now, and focus on, is the fact that while Psalms 110 is not quoted directly in some of Jesus’ parables, nonetheless, that Psalm lies behind and is the crux interpretum for many of those parables.
Matthew 25:14f – The Master departed – gave talents – returned to judge the servants. We have here a definite “departure, investment of talents / gifts, until the return of the Master.
Mark 13:34 – Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, he gave authority to his servants. We find here the “departed Master” motif that is found throughout Jesus’ parables.
Luke 12:35-42 – Although the motif of the departed master / groom and bestowal of talents / gifts “until” the return of the master is not as explicitly stated as in the previous passages, nonetheless, it is undeniably present. We have the servants waiting until the return of the Groom from the wedding (v. 36). And we would be remiss to ignore the imminence that permeates the text.
Luke 19:11-27 – The “king” called his servants and gave gifts / talents to them and told them, “Occupy till I come.” He departed, he went to a far country, there to receive a kingdom. His citizens rejected his sovereignty. When he returned, he destroyed those wicked citizens. Once again, we have the Departed Master, the bestowal of talents, the return in judgment of his enemies.
Surely no one would doubt that the “master” in each of these passages represents Jesus. His departure is universally posited as Jesus’ ascension to the Father. This is the time of Acts 3, and his remaining in the heavens until the restoration of all things at his parousia. In other words, the departure of the master in each of these passages is the ascension of Christ and his enthronement found in Psalms 110. Notice that every one of these texts is actually an “until” passage. The master gave responsibilities to his servants and said; “occupy until I come.”
What is inescapably true from each of these parables is that the master returned to judge his servants, some of whom were revealed to be his enemies as he was “absent.” Now, if the departure of the master was Christ’s ascension, what is the return of the master – in judgment – in each these parables? Are there multiple returns, multiple judgments? If so, where is the evidence.
Consider a bit of background information on Luke 19 for a moment. The parable has its roots in actual history. One has but to consult any good commentary to know this. As I. H. Marshall says:
“The story resembles that of Archelaus who on the death of his father Herod made his way to Rome in order to get confirmation of the kingship bestowed on him in his father’s will. The rest of the story fits in with this allusion, for Archelaus was followed by a deputation of Jews who resisted his appointment and who succeeded in persuading Augustus to give him only half his father’s kingdom and the status of an ethnarch (Jos. Bel. 2:80–100; Ant. 17:299–320). In the same way Herod the Great (Jos. Ant. 14:370–385), Antipas (Jos. Bel. 2:20–22; Ant. 17:224–227), Philip (Jos. Ant. 17:303) and Agrippa I (Jos. Ant. 18:238) all had to seek the decision of Rome, but the story of Archelaus provides the closest parallel to the parable. (Marshall, I. H. (1978). The New International Greek Testament Commentary, The Gospel of Luke: A commentary on the Greek text (pp. 703–704). Exeter: Paternoster Press).
Take a look at a comparative study of Matthew 25 and Luke 19 operating on the assumption that Vincent – as most commentators do – agree that Matthew 25 reflects Psalms 110.
Matthew 25:14f Luke 19:11f
Master went away Master went away
Gave gifts / responsibilities before leaving Gave gifts / responsibilities before leaving
Some servants were wicked / rebelled Some servants were wicked / rebelled
Return of the Master Return of the Master
Judgment of the wicked / reward of the Good Judgment of the wicked / reward of the Good
The question is, how would one delineate between Matthew 25 (and thus, Psalms 110) and Luke 19? And if these two parables do present the same story, then this raises the question, who were the citizens who said “We will not have this man to rule over us!”?
Jameison, Fawcett and Brown express it well: “His proper subjects; meaning the Jews, who expressly repudiated our Lord’s claims said, “We have no king but Caesar” (Jn 19:15).” (Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 120). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc). Commentators commonly apply Luke 19 to the AD 70 judgment coming of Christ. They understand that Jesus was speaking of his rejection by the Jews and as a result “they can only expect judgment.” (Marshall, 1978, op cit).
BTW, I must comment on the idea – a commonly held view – that while the parables of the Absent Master and his return do speak of AD 70, but that in the NT epistles we find a totally different return of the Master in mind. This suggests that the NT writers were either ignorant of the parabolic teaching, or were ignoring it, even though the fulfillment of those parables was imminent when they wrote. Where is the evidence that they had a different coming / return of the Absent Master in mind? Where is the imminent coming versus the protracted coming? In the NT, there is but one parousia, one judgment that was coming.
Throughout the NT we find the consistent picture that the kingdom was presented to the nation of OT Israel / Judah. The stewards of God’s vineyard, who rejected the Son, were slain at the coming of the Lord, and that is when he took the kingdom from them (Matthew 21:40f). The citizens of a great city were invited to the Wedding, but refused and killed the servants sent to her. Consequently, the citizens of that rebellious City were slain, and the City destroyed (Matthew 22:7).
In similar fashion, Paul, in Romans 9-11, lamented the fact that while the Gospel of the kingdom was being proclaimed throughout the world, “to the Jew first and then the Greek” (Romans 1:16) Israel was rejecting that message, see chapter 10 particularly. What is significant about chapter 10 is Paul’s citation of Isaiah 52:7: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, Who proclaims peace, Who brings glad tidings of good things, Who proclaims salvation, Who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
Now, someone will say that Paul did not quote the entire verse. He left out, “Your God reigns.” Does that mean that Paul was saying that the message of the reign of God was not being proclaimed? No, that would actually make no sense. If the Gospel message was not that the kingdom, God’s reign, was not being established, what was the good news? Why cite Isaiah 52, which is about the proclamation of the good news of the reign of Messiah, if the reign of Messiah was not in fact being proclaimed?
In typical Hebraic manner, Paul was citing only a part of the verse / text, in order to bring the entire context to the mind of the reader. This is what Richard Hays (and other scholars) calls “metalepsis.” (Richard Hays, Conversion of the Imagination, (Grand Rapids; Eerdmans, 2005), 18).
So, what is the application here? It is that Christ had ascended to the right hand of the Father where he had received the kingdom. The message of that rule / kingdom was being proclaimed. I believe that Acts 2, gives us tremendous insight into when Psalms 110 would be totally fulfilled in the coming of the Lord.
Acts 2 and Psalms 110
Notice that Peter cites Jesus’ ascension into heaven as the fulfillment of Psalms 110 (v. 29f). He says Jesus had been enthroned there, in the heavens, at the right hand of the Father. But remember that the Psalm said that Messiah would be enthroned there until the time when his enemies would be made his footstool. Making his enemies his footstool is the image of judgment and wrath, just as Psalms 110:5 describes: “He shall execute kings in the day of His wrath, he shall judge among the nations; He shall fill the places with dead bodies…” . The Day of Wrath (The Great and Terrible Day of the Lord) is the Day when the Lord would come against his citizens that refused his kingdom.
Peter’s citation of Psalms was a tacit, but powerful “good news / bad news warning to his audience. The good news was that their Messianic hope was now being fulfilled in Jesus, the Messianic King on the throne of David, the fulfillment of Psalms 110. The bad news is that he would come if they rejected him and became his enemy. That would bring down his judgment on them. Notice how this agrees perfectly with the rest of the context.
Peter said that the outpouring of the Spirit that day was in fulfillment of Joel 2:28f. The outpouring of the Spirit was a sign of the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord. It would be “great” because it would be the restoration of all things. It would be “terrible” because it would be a day of judgment, retribution and condemnation against the enemies of the Lord.
This Great and Terrible Day of the Lord is the same Day that John, as Elijah, heralded! And remember, John said that Day was near, at hand.
Peter concurred. Notice that after calling attention to the fact that the outpouring of the Spirit was a sign of the impending Great and Terrible Day of the Lord, and after informing them that Jesus, their Messiah was enthroned as King, awaiting the Day when he would come in judgment of his enemies, Peter said, “Save yourselves from this untoward generation” (v. 40). Where did this exhortation come from, if it did not spring from the reality of the coming Great and Terrible Day of the Lord (which John, as Elijah had said was near), and the fact that the Messiah was on his Throne, ready to come and put down his enemies?
The fact that John heralded the imminent Great Day of the Lord, and the fact that Jesus was enthroned awaiting his coming in judgment of his enemies, points us directly to Peter’s exhortation. He was warning them that the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord when Jesus would come to destroy his enemies, was going to occur in that generation. This agrees perfectly with Matthew 16:27-28 and the multitudinous NT passages about the imminent coming of the Lord in judgment and the kingdom– the fulfillment of Psalms 110.
What we find in Luke 19 – and implicit in Peter’s paranesis in Acts 2 – is that the “citizens” of the kingdom rejected his rule. Consequently, warning was being given that the king would return and bring judgment on those rebellious citizens. This is what Paul warned the Jews in Antioch about when they scorned the message of Jesus, sitting on the throne of David:
“Beware therefore, lest what has been spoken in the prophets come upon you: ‘Behold, you despisers, Marvel and perish! For I work a work in your days, A work which you will by no means believe, Though one were to declare it to you.’” (Acts 13:40-41).
The question before us is, once again, is what Paul described not the depiction of Luke 19 taking place? And if it is Luke 19, then is it not Matthew 25, as well as the other instances of the Departed / Absent Master that we have noted above? Had Jesus not departed into the far country to receive the kingdom? Was that message of his enthronement not the message being proclaimed in Acts 3, Acts 13– and in all other 32 occurrences of the citation of Psalms 110 found in the NT? Was that message not being rejected throughout the world?
Luke 19 is a very clear echo of Psalms 110. Notice the parallels:
Psalms 110 – Sit at my right hand– The Enthronement– Waiting “Until” – “Rule in the midst of your enemies, until I make your enemies your footstool” – The “Day of His Wrath” when his enemies would be destroyed. This is the day of the Lord’s coming.
Luke 19:11 – A man went to a far country to receive a kingdom – enthronement at the right hand – waiting- (ruling in the midst of his enemies) to return – to make his enemies his footstool in judgment – “Bring those who would not have me rule over them and slay them!”
Now, what is the Hermeneutic of Distinction between Luke and Psalms 110? Are there two enthronements / two absences of the king? Are there two kingdoms? Are there two subjugations of two enemies? Are there two different comings of the king? Given the perfect parallels between Psalms 110 and Luke 19, if one grants the first century application of Luke 19, that would demand a first century fulfillment of the Day of Wrath of the king who was coming to put down his enemies. And that is precisely what we find in the scriptures. Jesus had been enthroned. He was ruling in the midst of his enemies. He was coming at the time of the end to put down his enemies, and that coming was truly imminent.
Since Vincent urges us to honor the until passages, or at least those that he chooses, look at 1 Thessalonians 4:15, 17, where Paul spoke twice of, “those of us who are alive (present active indicative. He did not say: “concerning those who will be alive”) and remain until the coming of the Lord.” They were alive and would live until the parousia and resurrection – in fulfillment of Psalms 110. Futurists do their best to negate the natural meaning of Paul’s words. But, this is the resurrection, the coming of the Lord to put down his enemies. This is the anticipation of the fulfillment of Psalms 110 and Luke 19. And Paul’s contemporaries – some of them – would live until the parousia / resurrection.
In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul cited Psalms 110 to speak of Christ’s enthronement, and how he was ruling in the midst of his enemies. But, he would return at “the end” the time of the resurrection. When would that be? Well, Peter said, “the end of all things has drawn near” (1 Peter 4:7), so, we are on safe ground in proclaiming that the time of the fulfillment of Psalms 110 had drawn near when Peter wrote, unless it can be definitively proven that Paul and Peter had two different “ends” in mind.
Paul was clear: “Brethren, I tell you a mystery, we shall not all sleep.” Here is Paul telling his first century audience that not all of them would die before the resurrection – the coming of the king and the kingdom!
What Paul says in Corinthians is perfectly parallel with other “until” passages: “There are some standing here that shall not taste of death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” (Matthew 16:28). The parallel is Mark 9:1, “There are some standing here that shall not taste of death until they see that the kingdom had come with power.” Likewise, James urged his brethren, being persecuted for their faith, “Be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.”
Was Paul discussing a different kingdom and parousia in Thessalonians from that in 1 Corinthians 15:50? Was the parousia of Thessalonians and Corinthians different from Matthew 16 / Mark 9 which are posited in the context of the coming of the Son of Man in judgment, and the kingdom – before all of the first century believers died? Once again, where is the distinction?
The coming of the Lord in judgment and kingdom, is nothing other than the fulfillment of Psalms 110. It is the resurrection. Thus, to read of the coming of the Lord in judgment– and the judge was “standing right at the door” (James 5:9) – is to understand that the fulfillment of Psalms 110 was near. To read that the Son of Man was coming in the kingdom before that generation passed is to know that the resurrection was imminent. It is an abuse of hermeneutic to divorce these tenets of kingdom, parousia, resurrection from one another and separate them by so far 2000 years.
In my next article I will develop some of the correspondences between the until passages of Thessalonians, Corinthians, and Revelation 11. You will be amazed at what we will see! So stay tuned as we continue this series on Responding to the Critics!
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