(how to tell the biblical story in a way that makes a difference)

The resurrection of the just and the unjust in Daniel 12:2, and the horizons of New Testament eschatology

I think that the best way to understand New Testament eschatology is to organise the material according to three future horizons: i) a disastrous war against Rome, which would result in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple; ii) the overthrow of classical Greek-Roman paganism and the confession of Jesus as Lord by the nations; and iii) in a very hazy distance, the final destruction of sin and death and the renewal of heaven and earth.

I have also argued that what Jesus’ resurrection anticipated, as an act of divine vindication, was not, in the first place, the final resurrection of all the dead but the resurrection of the martyrs, in conjunction with the figurative “resurrection” of the people of God, at the parousia. This seems to me to be required, not least, by John’s distinction between a first resurrection of those who had been “beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God” and a second resurrection of all the dead at the end of the thousand years (Rev. 20:4-6, 12-13). It points to the fact that the overriding practical challenge facing the disciples of Jesus, the apostles and the churches was to remain true to their calling in the face of persecution until they were finally vindicated in the eyes of Israel and the nations for their beliefs regarding Jesus.

13 Apr 2018

By way of an addendum to the previous piece on Jesus’ subversion of the Jewish Gehenna, I want to look briefly at James 3:5b-6, which is the only place in the New Testament outside the Synoptic Gospels where the word geenna occurs. The verse reads (my translation):

Behold, how...

Read more   7 comments   
10 Apr 2018

A major part of my argument against the traditional doctrine of “hell” is that in Jesus’ teaching “Gehenna” is not a place of unending conscious torment after death but a symbol for the devastation and loss of life that Israel would suffer as a consequence of the war against Rome. I think that Jesus has...

Read more   10 comments   
4 Apr 2018

Steve Jacob found my post on annihilationism very interesting and wants to know whether I think “Tim Keller is on the mark in his recent article on hell”. The short answer is no. A longer answer follows. Readers might also be interested in my post “Tim Keller gets a lot right but gets hell badly wrong”.


Read more   6 comments   
30 Mar 2018

Zondervan Academic has just put out a blog post on the resurrection adapted from some online teaching material from Scott Oliphint. Oliphint is professor of apologetics and systematic theology at Westminster Theological Seminary. I want to consider the piece, first, because it’s Easter, and secondly, because it...

Read more      
27 Mar 2018

In an article on “Evangelical Annihilationism” published twenty years ago J.I. Packer respectfully rebutted the arguments made by the likes of E.W. Fudge, John Wenham and John Stott in favour of a more benign understanding of “hell” not as a place of...

Read more   7 comments   
20 Mar 2018

A decent sermon at a well known central London Anglican church Sunday night was spoilt, in my view, by the excited closing announcement that Jesus is coming back soon. Apart from the fact that the dogma is questionable on biblical grounds, which I’ll come to, I don’t understand how or why such a reputable church...

Read more   15 comments   
14 Mar 2018

I have written rather a lot about the doctrine of “hell” on this site, for several reasons. It bothers people. It is one of the least pleasant aspects of conservative-fundamentalist expressions of Christianity. It continues to be misunderstood by its detractors and defenders alike. It draws on narratives and...

Read more   8 comments   
7 Mar 2018

This always baffles me. At the heart of Jesus’ teaching is the proclamation of the coming kingdom of God: ‘Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel”’ (Mk. 1:14–...

Read more   3 comments