When trusting Jesus more, leads to questioning traditional lore
Rethinking the Resurrection (part 6): Is The Resurrection Past?

Rethinking the Resurrection (part 6): Is The Resurrection Past?

Here is another good read by David Embury about the corporate body resurrection, below. He writes about a concept that, looking back, I can’t believe I didn’t notice in Scripture before, but it is right before our eyes.  Did you know that the New Testament records several instances where the first century believers thought that the general resurrection had happened already? For example, 2 Thess 2:1-2 shows that Paul had to write the Thessalonians a letter to ease their concern about this “have we missed it?” feeling they had regarding the resurrection or gathering. What does this say about the NATURE of the general resurrection? By implication of their conversation, we see that it was something that could be missed.

The resurrection or gathering that they were talking about certainly had nothing to do with bodies coming out of graves. Of course, because bodies reconstituting in their nearby family graves could NOT have been missed. Therefore they would have no need to worry. Also see that Paul corrected the Thessalonian’s concept of the TIMING of the resurrection. They got that part wrong, as it had not occurred yet (pre 70AD). But – and here is the key point – Paul does NOT correct their belief in the spiritual NATURE of the resurrection. Why? Because Paul taught them that it was able to be missed! He does not say “go look in your graves, people are still there, duh.” Paul said nothing about them being able to visibly perceive anything. Paul believed and taught a resurrection that was spiritual in nature, not physical.  Paul taught the Thessalonians this able-to-be-missed resurrection, which is why they wrote to ask him for some clarity about it. Paul taught a spiritual resurrection, one that was more akin to salvation than to the-night-of-the-living-dead, or a Thriller music video.

Is The Resurrection Past?

Posted on September 5, 2008 By David Embury

Consider this:

2Tim 2:16-18 But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some.


Paul challenges the false doctrine of Hymenaeus and Philetus that was turning some from the faith “saying the resurrection is already past.” This is the same charge of ‘heresy’ wrongly brought by those who oppose fulfilled prophecy; failing to realise that the ‘Hymenaeus and Philetus’ argument rather than diminishing our approach actually strengthens it, the reasoning is simple:


If the 1st century church expected Christ’s 2nd Coming to be an earth destroying, time ending, history terminating event, as many today think and await, then how was it possible for some to be deceived? All someone had to do was look around and ask what’s changed!?physically nothing!In other words, if the resurrection [which according to Scripture is initiated by Christ’s return] was to be a “physical event” it would be self evident, everything “physically” would be changed – a remade world, people popping up through open graves, and no more physical death. Yet all the living were still present and none had been raptured away. Again, had things been physically reconstituted it would have been self evident. However, there is no record of such things occurring.


Obviously, 1st century believers had a concept and belief about the nature of ‘the resurrection’ that is foreign to much popular present-day Christian teaching. The ‘first-fruit’ believers [Jas 1:18] understood that Jesus’ kingdom did not come with observation [Lk 17:20], in fact His kingdom wasn’t to be of this “fleshly” world [Jn 18:36] – for flesh and blood i.e., “the natural” could not enter it [1Cor 15:50]. His spiritual kingdom entered only through spiritual rebirth – looking not to the “seen” but to the “unseen” 2Cor 4:18. Yet this confusion over the nature of ‘heavenly things’ is nothing new, even the literalistic thinking Nicodemus could not conceive how it was possible to be “born again” except but to enter the womb a second time [Jn 3:9-12].


Paul does not challenge Hymenaeus and Philetus’ concept or belief as to the ‘nature’ of the 2nd Coming [as they had been Christian], he does however their ‘timing’ of it. Hymenaeus and Philetus were causing a lot of trouble, and like most of Paul’s opposition they were Judaisers [based on Paul’s constant warnings against “going back” to the Law –Judaism, this is plausible]. Had Hymenaeus and Philetus been correct, then adherence to the “Law” would also have become a requirement of faith, as it was still operative [though it had no redeeming value] while the Temple stood. The writer of Hebrews declares:

Heb 9:8 the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing.

While the Temple stood the reconciliation was not yet complete; Christ’s Parousia was the manifestation of Christ’s completed redemption.

Christ’s Coming, The Resurrection, The Judgment, and the consummation or fullness of The Kingdom were all concurrent events [2Tim 4:1; Mt 16:27-28], when one happened they all happened. For the resurrection to have occurred whilst vestiges of the Old Covenant still remained i.e., all things typifying the Law – the Temple, the Priesthood, the Sacrifices, the Worship etc… would thus have required their full inclusion in the Gospel, as indeed was the hankering of the Judaisers with regards to a required circumcision etc. However this was never to be the case, for Moses [the Law] was never to enter the Promised Land [New Covenant]. The Law served a purpose but was now in Christ fulfilled. And so this mixing of Law and Grace went completely against all Paul’s teaching on the sufficiency of grace alone apart from the Law, through the faith of Christ [Gal 4:21-31].

Image by Pat Moriarity

12 Responses to Rethinking the Resurrection (part 6): Is The Resurrection Past?

  1. Jim Wilmot says:

    Thanks for your writings. I agree with you completely. After a lifetime of the typical Christian beliefs, about a year ago I came to realize the prederist view as the truth. I like how you explained how Jesus is the end of the line in regards to the seed of Abraham. I have suspected that for a long time and have seen that much more clearly since I changed my beliefs in the end times and you have made it even more clear. It feels so good to actually understand the end times. A couple months ago at our small church they did a video presentation for support of today’s “starving Jews”. It was difficult for me for one thing because I have had a 28 year career of working as a painter/decorator in high end very wealthy homes, most of them being Jewish. Starving Jews? Plus having the prederist view of God’s purpose for the Jews being fulfilled it wasn’t easy to sit through. However I took the liberty to search the internet during the presentation for the origin of today’s Jews and found some very interesting info. Didn’t hear you say anything about this but have you heard of a book by Arthur Koestler, called The Thirteenth Tribe, published in 1975? He explained with great detail how today’s Jews actually came from a people group called the Khazars from about 1000 years ago. Apparently they were in conflict with the Byzantines (Christians) and the Islams regularly and took on a strategic move and became Jewish by religion. After some time they became known as Jews and according to Koestler’s writings that is where today’s Jews actually came from. Also, I found that anthropologists use the size and shape of the skull and the nose to determine race and they have found that less than 2% of Jews today are from the biblical Jewish race. So, there really probably aren’t any true physical biblical Jews today that haven’t intermarried into other races anyways.

    My biggest quest now is to find and understand how all of this matters today, and how it would affect the church and the world today. I’m more concerned about what the ramifications of this truth are than just being right about the end times. What would be different if the church as a whole embraced the prederist view? What typically happens when I start getting somewhere with someone trying to convince them of the truth, they back out of it saying “as long as we believe the main things of gospel it really doesn’t matter, it’s not worth creating division”, meaning I am the one creating division by bringing strange doctrines with the gospel. To me, the whole typical end times teaching of today is just a side step that keeps people from embracing the rule of God through the Holy Spirit IN US WHO BELIEVE!!! Not through some magical mystical future end times chosen race. It’s much easier I think to embrace those far out unquestionable (because it’s in the Word of God… somewhere) beliefs and to be part of some kind of religious organization that has a nice meeting for an hour and a half one day of the week than to study the truth and listen to the Holy Spirit personally and do what He says. I am not against going to church on Sunday, I do go myself, but I think the church has settled in to a comfortable “form of godliness that ‘for the most part’ denies the power of God” and looks to religious organization rather than the Holy Spirit. People say it but I don’t think they realize that the Holy Spirit is actually Jesus on earth! I hope that is what the prederist movement is all about, and not just the end times truth.

    • Riley says:

      Jim, thanks for writing and for sharing this information with me. Fascinating. I have only briefly heard of what you mentioned so I’ll look into the book you recommended. I wonder what my Jewish friends would think of Koestler’s findings, if its something they already know and see as a non-issue or if its wildly offensive to them. Probably depends on the person. But I agree that middle eastern politics shouldn’t be influenced by one religious group’s potential misinterpretations of the Bible, but that we should approach the Israel/Palestine subject with objectivity and fairness (since, if we’re going to involve the Bible, we should also see that it says God’s promise to historic Israel was fulfilled, just as Joshua said it was in Josh 22-26). Also, I really like what you said here:

      “My biggest quest now is to find and understand how all of this matters today, and how it would affect the church and the world today. I’m more concerned about what the ramifications of this truth are than just being right about the end times. What would be different if the church as a whole embraced the prederist view?”

      And this is my aim as well. I’m still putting a lot of my perspectives, proofs and processing of information here on my site. I want to share my processing through passages which led to my coming to a fulfilled view. However, I, too, being now fully convinced that Jesus’ presence came – and stayed within us!- am more interested in the ramifications of this view – specifically for church leaders today. How would church teaching and discipling and leadership and involvement in politics and the care of people change if they held a fulfilled view? How would preaching change if they believed that WE ARE God’s rescue plan for each other in the world? They would be quickened to get us to understand each other, talk and listen, break down barriers, and care about each other more, for example. I think that they would be more passionate about helping us care for the poor and the environment. They would see that God’s plan has not been to abandon the world to a certain level of degradation and christian conversion before he waves a magic wand to change everything magically in an instant. This is the stuff of fairytales and wishful thinking, based upon poor translations and faulty reasoning. But church leaders would seek to help us understand how the real and present Spirit of God is working THROUGH US to bless and heal the world. His rescue plan is to work THROUGH us – not TO us. Believing this, for me, has made God more real, present, and organic. God is not afraid of working with us through the real and gritty parts of our lives, but is WITH US AND IN US through them. He doesn’t turn away and abandon us to these as part of a drama that He is powerless to change for the time-being, as if we are all subject to a failing game-plan where God stood us up at the altar and HAS BEEN mysteriously withholding the Ultimate Solution for thousands of years (despite promising it “soon”). But because Jesus came when He said He would come and did what He said He would do, we can trust that His teaching about God as good father who is working good things through us is true. And we can live knowing that God made the world and our lives to have ups and downs that we learn from and help each other through, thus, giving our work, and even our suffering, a grander and more lasting purpose in the world. When we see each other suffering, we are reminded that it is up to us to help each other, as God’s hands and heart here on earth. God is connecting us, breaking down barriers and knitting us together to be a more compassionate people who are fit to hold the space for God’s presence here on earth.

      Hey would you mind if I shared our conversation here as a blog post?

      Thanks again, Jim

      • Jim Wilmot says:

        Feel free to share however you want. By the way, I found the book online as a free pdf download here http://www.fantompowa.info/koestlerindex.htm . Dont know if its even available in print form.

      • Bob Nolan says:

        Dr Riley, I would be delighted to speak with you. I am a missionary-type to China, Taiwan, and Central America. AND a good friend of Jim Wilmot.
        My name is Bob Nolan. briefings1@gmail.com

        . If there’s anything worth plagiarizing, plagiarize to your heart’s content. :8-D
        (I’ll avoid all the very necessary “disclaimers”, for the sake of space, knowing that all truth is held in tension with other aspects of other truth. Balance is good, but so are raw statements sometimes.)

        Statement: Definitions and semantics can be over-rated, and can also bog you down, but words do have meaning. Understanding the meaning of the Biblical Writers as well as the meaning of our own words is important in communication. We can miss the point of the Writers by neglecting what they meant at their time. We can also “talk past” each other when we don’t have the same definitions of words we say to each other. Hence, as important as exegesis is to understand the Scriptures, exegesis can also be over-rated if technicalities obscure the purpose of why the Writers wrote, or even how we convey our own thoughts to other interested people.

        Eschatology, as I understand its meaning in thoughtful circles, is the study of last things. It is about the details of what the Scriptures call “the end.” Details are not to be minimized. Eg, how / why would you minimize the Parousia, the Resurrection, the Judgment, etc ? Nevertheless, these are details. Huge details, but details.
        “a system of doctrines concerning last, or final, matters, as death, the Judgment, the future state, etc.” (Collins English Dictionary)

        Teleology, on the other hand, and on a broader philosophical level, is the study of God’s Purpose. Where is history going? What do the Details mean? What is the “end game”? IS THERE a purpose? What might it look like? Can we know it? SHOULD we know it? If so, HOW do we co-operate with it?
        1. “the doctrine that final causes exist.”
        2. “the study of the evidences of design or purpose in nature”
        3. “the belief that purpose and design are a part of or are apparent in nature”

        Eschatology can be an exercise in futility and “endless arguments”, if we have no Teleology. This includes the (correct) doctrine of Preterism. Theology should not be our leader, or our own “end game.” Theology should be our servant to lead / help us to a Philosophy of the Kingdom, so we can, indeed, co-operate with our Father toward His Purpose(s).

        What I love and appreciate about the Preterist approach (it is an approach, not an end in itself), is that it helps make sense of what our Father is up to in the earth, in the heavens, and for His Glory. It gives me a chance to see that there is indeed an End Game in His mind, and that Romans 8.28 is bigger than just an encouraging word for beleaguered saints. He is “working things together”—large and small, good and bad—toward His Dream of covering the land with His Glory. Dare I say, Letting everyone in every land see and adore the Personality of His Son. Am I correct in this interpolation of Jesus’ many words when (often) speaking of His Father?—“and if you think I am good, wait till you meet My Dad.” And, “He that has seen Me has seen Him.”
        I have read, studied, scrutinized, drank, gobbled up, and digested J. Stuart Russell’s “The Parousia.” I think that many good students / preterists have appreciated Russell’s work, but maybe missed the major point: All this is going somewhere. I recommend a re-read of his comments on the “end of the age.” It is clear that Jesus and His key students (whom we call apostles) emphasized NOT the annihilation of the planet, but the end of an old regime. And that “end” was only to make way for a new beginning. A new Covenant. A new way of thinking. A new approach. A fresh start. And in the single most definitive remark / prediction of this new Way, found in the Old Covenant Scriptures, Dad said (in Jeremiah 31) “it will NOT BE LIKE / NOT ACCORDING TO the previous Covenant . . . I will write My laws in their hearts, and put it in their minds.” I find Russell’s writing on the Purpose of the Parousia to be even more remarkable and light-giving than his thoroughly satisfying exegesis on eschatology. Or in other words, I appreciate his Teleology even more than his Eschatology.
        Good eschatology is good. An eschatology that moves us toward a true Teleology is even better. Eschatology without a Teleology leaves me empty, no matter how good the exegesis. We are here to understand our Father and His Purposes.
        For Example . . . what is evangelicalism’s teleology? That people, all people, get “saved”? Well, who could de-preciate the value of a human being being saved, justified, and in direct relationship with God? (pardon my digression, but I would say a review of “salvation” would be healthy for evangelicalism, because the Writers used the Greek word “sozo” in many ways. And if salvation means deliverance from Hell, what does THAT mean? I have serious and LEGITIMATE questions about the evangelical meaning of Hell. I see that Jesus spoke about Hell, but never the way modern christians do. And I believe in Hell, but do we believe what Jesus actually said about it? He spoke about Hell, as far as I know, only when speaking to religious leaders. Also, show me one place where the apostles talked to anyone about Hell who did not know God. We need an honest, unafraid review of many things we take for granted in our evang. System. But I digress.) I suggest that people getting saved is an important detail of Father’s plan, but that His Dream is for the “earth to be filled with His Glory.” I have asked people in Third World countries, “If everybody in your town was saved, would your work be done?” They just stare at me. I say, “No, your work would be just beginning. Now, train them to bring Father’s heart and ways to the community.”
        I realize I / we cannot hang our hat on just one Scripture. But here is one that hints at how we are to proceed in this New Way. “We are trying to learn what pleases the Lord” (Eph 5.10). Paul could have said to memorize the Scrips, and we would know what pleased the Lord. But he more than implies that it is a dynamic process, not static memorization and obedience. This new Covenant really is about a relationship. Obedience was not just good, but essential and perhaps the most important thing when raising my five kids. But NOW they have obedience built-in to their lives. Our relationship is no longer based on obedience. It is based on obedience that is “in their soul through training,” and now about healthy, fun, happy, meaningful relationship with me, and me HELPING them build the family business by pursuing their dreams. Dreams that (hopefully) I helped forge in their minds. In their young minds, it was all about me. Now, in my mind, it’s all about them. Does this remind you of Jeremiah’s words about the new Way? Could it be that even “obedience” can be over-rated, even though, like sincerity, it is essential?
        Just how new is the New Covenant? Really new? Or just an addition on the Old?? Maybe the answer is complicated. But maybe the question is legitimate. (Question for pastors and leaders and teachers: Do we give people PERMISSION to even ask these kinds of questions? Would the answers threaten our positions? I can bring this kind of thing up to my friend, Glenn Hill, because he has asked questions and arrived at answers that disqualified him in many circles, but he went for it, anyway. I love Glenn Hill, because he loves people and truth more than his own comfort or position. Glenn’s book, “Christianity’s Great Dilemma” could easily be called, Preterism For Dummies.)
        If, indeed, we are in a new covenant, then it more than behooves us to ascertain what is the nature of this new covenant. New way. New regime. If you have an old house, and put a BEAUTIFUL new addition onto that house, do you have a NEW house? No. Speaking in very general terms, I believe we have put a new addition on the old covenant, with its laws, its parochialism, its limitations, its one-nation-ness, its politics, etc., and called it “new.” But God said it would NOT be like the old. This is what our brother / friend / apostle Paul had to deal with as he saw (dangerously and painfully) that even the people who accepted Jesus as the Messiah could not let go of the Old / Moses / Traditional way. Some of the new Christian leaders were his staunchest critics. And those who hated Jesus hated it even more. So, he said that the mystery of the Ages was that God had, indeed, decided to include the Gentiles in His Family (see Ephesians) Perhaps the other NEW truth in the New Testament is that God is a personal Father to human beings, not just the Father of the old covenant people as a whole.
        “Gentiles” was code language for, “everybody except US.” It would behoove us today to realize that our Heavenly Father is indeed interested in everybody, not just US who believe “correctly.” Watch out now, I do want to believe correctly. But I also believe it is correct and good to know that Father has love, and Jesus has care, for “sheep that are NOT of this fold.” There is only one way to Father, and that is through Jesus. (Ha, when I came to Jesus in the “Jesus Movement” forty years ago, we used to say, “One way, dude.”) Amen. One way to Father, and that is Jesus Christ, who was born of a virgin. But how many “ways” are there to Jesus? Millions. I am one way to Jesus, you are another. And the New Emmanuel, the Holy Spirit, has many more ways to Jesus up His loving Sleeve. YES! He has ways, of which there are many testimonies from the far corners of the planet, that Jesus has been revealed to people without evangelical / catholic / eastern orthodox / or any other kind of preacher.
        So . . . what?
        I say that knowing God is a dynamic, moving, relationship, not a static, law-based “ism”. Somehow, we ‘preterists’ need to develop a meaningful, relevant, truth-ful teleology out of our eschatology. Did not Jesus say that He was “the eschaton”? The beginning and the “end”? The meaning / relevance of our eschatology is to display and demonstrate a Person. A Person with whom we can relate and receive and remember and reconcile “every creature under heaven.”

        These are some raw, un-edited thoughts. Maybe at least they are worthy of correction or some interesting discussion. I offer them with my respect.

        • Riley says:

          Hi Bob! Nice to meet you here and hear your many thoughts about the purpose of our fulfilled eschatology and realization of the Kingdom now. I’d like to hear more about your missionary work in Asia, and how fulfilled eschatology effects it, so Ill message you at the email address you gave in your comment.


  2. Rich says:


    Sorry to by off topic, but do you have a contact for those who run the website for ordering the Preterist Bible? There website has no contact info outside a mailing address. An email address sure would be a lot easier. I’m asking because I ordered a copy of the Bible way back on Dec.8th and have not recieved it. My paypal account says a Michael Day recieved the money. Is that the individual you worked with for the graphics work you did? Anyway, let me know. You can contact me at jrinad70@gmail.com.

    • Riley says:

      Yes, Michael Day is running the FCBible project and here is his email address. I have emailed him to ask about the Bible and here is his reply, below. Sounds like there was a delay due to an issue in printing, but they will be coming soon! (hm, sounds familiar…) Sorry for telling you that they should arrive by Christmas and it not happening (unlike Jesus :)) I was wrong about when they will arrive!


      Had multiple delays at the printer. Ships Jan 14th.

      Sent update to web person, I have to wait until she updates the web site.



    • Riley says:

      Yes, Michael Day is running the FCBible project and here is his email address. I have emailed him to ask about the Bible and here is his reply, below. Sounds like there was a delay due to an issue in printing, but they will be coming soon! (hm, sounds familiar…) Sorry for telling you that they should arrive by Christmas and it not happening (unlike Jesus :)) I was wrong about their arrival!


      Had multiple delays at the printer. Ships Jan 14th.

      Sent update to web person, I have to wait until she updates the web site.



  3. Rich says:

    Thanks Riley. I can wait. Was just starting to think my order was lost and I had no way on contacting them. Sure would be nice if they provided an email address to contact them.

  4. Paulo says:

    I still could not read all the articles about resurrection. But answer me, are you a full-preterist? do you believe that all Bible prophecy was fulfilled in AD 70?

  5. Paulo says:

    I still could not read all the articles about resurrection. But answer me, are you a full-preterist? do you believe that all Bible prophecy was fulfilled in AD 70?

    • Riley says:

      Hello Paulo,
      Thanks for stopping by. Please tell me, why couldn’t you read the articles about resurrection, were they not loading on the page for you? Let me know if the site is not working properly.
      As to your question, after several years now of deep study, and carefully comparing both futurist and preterist interpretations of Scriptures, yes, I do believe that the preterist explanations are better, more Scriptural, more fitting to the context and Ancient Near Eastern culture, and they just make more sense overall. I can see why about 95% of people who give this position a thorough and open-minded consideration also find it to make the most sense. The only barrier to my accepting the preterist view at first were my fears, emotions and doctrinal indoctrination. But, after stepping back to be more objective, I see that Jesus promised he would come back to his first century believers in their generation, which were his spiritual Kingdom, in the Last Days of the Old Covenant age and in order to resurrect us and bring us back to God. What a wonderful thing that he did just what he promised he would do — WHEN he said he would do it! I also believe that the material outworkings of that first century fulfillment are continuing to grow in the world through us. God is present in and with us and by NO means done with us yet! Its just that he is working THROUGH us to bring about his plan for the world (NOT that He promised to come ‘soon’ but then abandoned us to disintegrate while holding out some ‘magic day’ in our future like a carrot…like traditional Christianity still teaches… bleh!).
      Why do you ask? And you? What do you believe? And how did you come to those conclusions?

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