Copyright © 2004 Michael Hugh Sprawson
A.D. 70 Reply
Updated: Sun 25/05/08.
I have read a magazine given to me by a friend for evaluation concerning the doctrine known as A.D. 70. This is my assessment of it. The magazine is titled; "Words of truth." Writers in this magazine are proponents of a doctrine known as A.D. 70. In this article the writers are referred to collectively as the "writer."
This doctrine has as its basic belief that the end of everything prophesied in the O.T. and N.T. was completed by A.D. 70. It is important to understand that this doctrine claims that there is absolutely nothing else for the Christian to expect to come to pass that hasn't already come to pass.
Personally, I am not aware of the bulk of the teachings of this doctrine. However, I am aware that all doctrines have a core belief. Therefore it isn't necessary to know everything about a particular doctrine to be able to ascertain its worth; ie, true or false? So, what is the main belief of this doctrine? There are four events that the "writer" claims have taken place in A.D. 70.
These four events are:
- The O.T. was abrogated.
- The N.T. was established.
- The final judgement.
- The destruction of Jerusalem.
I personally believe that only number 4 was fulfilled in A.D. 70.
However, in the edition, vol, x, No. 3, July-Sept, of "Words of truth," 'the worth of debating brethren' is discussed. I am all for preaching, teaching, discussing; "chewing the fat," as some might describe it. But debate? And in public at that! The opinion that the "writer" has of debating needs looking at.
Debating is not an excuse to exercise the lower nature of man. When it becomes necessary to have a discussion with those whom one disagrees, it's imperative that the exchange of views is carried out in the spirit of Christ.
Not one of us is free of the tempting of our fallen nature. I have never met anyone who enjoys being insulted, whether they are decent people, or even the worst kind of individual. All of us are subject to testing by sin, how we respond to it will depend upon our resolve to overcome it by the Grace of God. Thus, we may become stronger in the faith.
If anyone among you thinks himself to be religious while he doesn't bridle his tongue, but deceives his heart, this man's religion is worthless. James 1:26.
How many of us have been the target of slander, and by decent, albeit misled souls. Those who have fallen into the service of Satan unwittingly, are still the servants of Satan. And their hapless victims are left to carry around with them, the stigma generated by slander.
What deeply bothers me is that the "writer" teaches that the most effective way for the Lord's church to grow is to debate brethren. What ever happened to teaching the Truth, in the spirit of love and good will? And what about the old Standby? The Godly example of doing good. Yes, there might be occasions when a brother falls into a trespass, in such cases those who are spiritual, should restore such a one in the spirit of gentleness. Looking to themselves;
avoid falling into reproach and the snare of the devil. 1 Tim 3:7.
When we look at examples of debating in the Scriptures, it behoves us to check out all the details of the quoted passage. Merely taking one point in a passage, while overlooking other equally important points in the same passage, is fraught with the snare that easily entangles the unwary into sin.
Let us look at some examples.
In Acts 15, Paul and Barnabas were teaching at Antioch, and certain Jews from Jerusalem came and insisted that the Gentile Christians must be circumcised, and also keep the Law of Moses in order to be saved.
A great dissension and debate ensued. This ended with an agreement to go to Jerusalem and see the leaders there in order to find out the teaching on this matter. Therefore, Paul and Barnabas journeyed to Jerusalem. Once there they described the disagreement prompted by newcomers to Antioch. Some Pharisees insisted Gentile Christians must be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses, Acts 15:5.
This resulted in a debate among the brethren in Jerusalem. Peter then stood up and explained to the brethren about his experience in the conversion of Cornelius and his household. How they received the Holy Spirit, even as the Jews themselves had on the day of Pentecost.
After a word from James, they all agreed that circumcision, and the Law of Moses wasn't to be kept by Christians. Only they were to keep themselves free from things contaminated by idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from fornication.
In an article by the "writer," the subject of debate isn't dealt with adequately.
For instance, it is in Antioch that the brethren had a dissension and debate. In Jerusalem, it is stated that they simply had a debate. In Acts 15, there are two debates. One, apparently, was somewhat heated, but the other was carried out in a civil manner.
The two events appear different in temperament.
- In Antioch, dissension and debate.
- In Jerusalem, simply debate.
Observe, debate was generated by outsiders coming in from another place:
- In Antioch outsiders were intent on forcing their opinions upon others.
- In Jerusalem outsiders were intent on seeking advice from recognised leaders in a civil manner.
Attempting to establish debating as a given, the "writer" quotes Peter in Acts 15:7; then cuts him off.
Let us follow through with Peter:
Saved in the same way?
Yes indeed! There is to be NO DISTINCTION between "us and them," said Peter. As the Jews were no longer under the Law of Moses, likewise, Gentile Christians were not to be burdened with the Law of Moses!
Oops! What is this about both "us and them" not being under the Law of Moses? Wasn't all this happening before A.D. 70? It seems does it not, that chopping off Peter's quotation in Acts 15:7, deprives the reader of the subject and result of the debate! So what is the result of the debate? Simply this; that the redeemed, both Jew and Gentile, "us and them," were not bound to the Law of Moses.
Beloved, this was long before A.D. 70. It appears strange to me. The "writer" is using the above passage to prove a point; the need for debate, while apparently failing to notice that this very same passage contains evidence that negates a belief that he hopes to establish by the exercise of debate.
What belief does he hope to establish? Simply this, the "writer" hopes to establish that the disciples were continuing with a yoke upon their necks that neither the Fathers, nor the Apostles were able to bear, all the way up to A.D. 70. And this yoke?
Non other than the Law of Moses!
In the Galatians letter Gal 2:11-21, Paul recounts taking Peter to task concerning his refusal to eat with Gentiles when certain Jews showed up. Paul says to Peter:
In this passage Paul continues:
Those who are intent on teaching that all the Christians, "us and them," were under, and kept, the Law of Moses up to A.D. 70, are making them to be transgressors, and also that they were not living to God; who can believe it?
Maybe if the "writer" were to follow the example of the Bereans, and check out the Scriptures, he might discover that the Apostle Paul disagrees with him! Every one of us has the same choice when it comes to believing any doctrine.
- We accept what uninspired men imagine what the Holy Spirit was saying to the saints, or...
- We accept what inspired Apostles knew and taught what the Holy Spirit was saying to the saints.
When the Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatian brethren concerning the Judaists unsettling the saints at Galatia, he didn't bother going into detail about the passage in Matt 24. Instead, he taught them the very things that they already knew.
Doctrine presented in simple prose by holy spirit inspired apostles, will always outweigh tons of "doctrine" by uninspired imagination. Take note, the debate in Acts 17, is between the Apostle Paul and the Jewish leaders in the local Synagogue, not between christians.
It does appear that the term debate is used by the "writer", when the term discussion is a far better expression. However, when we satisfy ourselves with the context and manner that disagreements are carried out in Scripture, we may avoid the mistake of being rude to our brethren. The words of the Master ought always be uppermost in our hearts;
THE DEAD. What a lively subject. Indeed, we will never live unless first we die. This sounds better already!
What happens to the dead?
In the O.T. the dead are spoken of as being asleep. Wherever they might be, they are not considered to be conscious. We know from the story of Lazarus, John 11:23-25, that people were expecting to rise again from the dead, at some future date. Also, John 5:28 (19-29).
When Jesus gave up His life on the cross, the graves were opened up and the dead were raised. Matt 27:52,53 (45-56). Also, just before Jesus died upon the cross, he said to the penitent thief on the next cross;
So the dead, who had been raised, along with the penitent thief, were soon enjoying each other's company in paradise.
Paul, some years later, had to write to the brethren at Thessalonica to comfort them concerning the dead. They fully expected Jesus to return in their lifetime. However, because He still hadn't turned up, they worried that their departed loved ones wouldn't be joining in the eagerly awaited resurrection.
Therefore Paul wrote this to them;
As we have read above, Paul told them that those who had already died would be raised first; the penitent thief who was on the cross will be there. Then, we who are still alive will be caught up in the air with them, and so shall we be with the Lord.
The O.T. Faithful dead were kept in the grave because the unredeemed righteous souls were not allowed into paradise. When Jesus gave His life upon the cross for the sins of the world, the Faithful dead had their sins washed away, and were permitted to rise from the dead and enter into paradise. Jesus, true to His promise to the thief on the cross, allowed the penitent thief to go straight to paradise.
Notice which two events the thief on the cross died between...
- Jesus' death: for the sins of the world.
- Jesus' resurrection: conquering death.
Consider Heb 10:1-18.
The Faithful before the cross:
Died, were buried, raised at the cross, entered paradise...
...Now wait for the Lord's coming.
The Faithful after the cross:
Die, enter paradise...
...Now wait for the Lord's coming.
The Faithful at the Lord's coming:
Both the living, and the dead, are caught up in the air to be with the Lord and...
...So shall we ever be with the Lord.
Ponder if you will, about the period between our Lord's death upon the cross, and the destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem. This spanned a period of approximately 40 years. In this period we have the resurrection of our Lord. The beginning of the gospel on the day of Pentecost. The growth of the Lord's Church. First the Jews, then the Gentiles. All this took place in spite of grievous persecution of the first Christians. It wasn't an easy time for the redeemed (us and them) now being added to the Church by the Lord.
The Jewish leaders made sure of that.
Remember Saul of Tarsus? Acts 9:1-31. He became the Apostle Paul who wrote the above passages, Gal 2:11-21; 1 Thess 4:13-18. The Apostle Paul counted His Jewish background and achievements as rubbish in order that he may gain Christ, Phil 3:8, (1-21).
While all this was unfolding upon the earth, what about the righteous dead? We know that the righteous who died before the cross were raised at the point of Jesus' death on the cross. Where did they go? I suggest they went to the same place that the penitent thief on the cross went; they entered paradise.
Jesus kept His promise to the thief on the cross. Not long after Jesus died, the thief also died, and went to be with his Lord in paradise. They had a great company, made up of the raised righteous dead who had been in the grave under the O.T. period, (and earlier) Heb 12:1.
All of this now leads us to the state of the righteous in the N.T. who die. Where do they go? Well, where else can the righteous go, but with the rest of the redeemed (us and them) righteous dead.
Which is? You've got it, paradise!
We can know that the redeemed righteous dead are still in paradise because we are still on the earth.
CONSIDER: If the righteous dead have been raised to be with the Lord in the air, then we would have been caught up with them.
HOWEVER: Since we are still here, on earth, then they, the righteous dead, are still in paradise.
THEREFORE: That which convinces the Faithful that the second coming of the Lord is still future; is our continuing presence upon the earth.
So, the second coming of the Lord Jesus did not take place in A.D. 70, as per the A.D. 70 doctrine claims. As the second coming of Jesus didn't take place at the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70;
...we are left with THREE EXPECTATIONS:
- The second coming of our Lord
- The raising of all the Faithful, us and them. (Both the living and the dead)
- The final Judgement
Therefore, it is in The Future,
that these three expectations will be fulfilled.