GK Beale on the Frog in the Kettle & the Mystery of Lawlessness

I have been digging deeply into 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 for my exegetical research paper in Hermeneutics. While I am not in agreement with Beale on his Amillennialism, I do appreciate his scholarship. I found this description of the “mystery of lawlessness” leading to the final apostasy particularly sobering for the contemporary church.

What is it that continually energizes the lawless and worldly spirit of the age throughout history? Why do culture and some sectors of the church promote moral and religious relativity? What is it that makes the spirit of worldliness so attractive and compelling? Paul explains in 2:1–12 that the spirit of the antichrist, “the man of lawlessness,” is already presently working to influence and deceive not only our culture but also the church about the truth. This spirit will effectively deceive some throughout the age, and the deception will reach a climax at some future point. Like the proverbial “frog in a kettle” that is unable, because of its cold-blooded nature, to sense gradual increases in water temperature until it is too late (and it is boiled), God’s people sometimes fail to perceive subtle shifts away from God’s truth. When the spiritual heat of false teaching or deception comes, we sometimes do not readily recognize it because of our spiritual cold-heartedness. Are we like the frog that is beginning to boil? If people have not truly believed that Jesus suffered on the cross the punishment they deserve and that he rose again from the dead to give life, they are presently in a state of deception that could be the beginning of final punishment. Those genuinely having believed need to keep recalling the truth of God’s Word in order to prevent deception.[1]



[1] G. K. Beale, 1-2 Thessalonians, The IVP New Testament commentary series (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 200), 224.

Patrick Heron’s End Time Eisegesis

By Cris D. Putnam

Patrick Heron likely means well but zeal comes before knowledge. He invokes the end times to assert that only now God is revealing special insight on the prophetic scriptures (apparently to himself). In other words, all the great expositors and scholars of the past have unable to decode the prophecies properly, but only now God has granted special insight to a select few, including himself, to warn God’s people… Really? He argues that only now has God “unsealed” the secrets in the book of Revelation and prophetic scriptures. This betrays a serious lack of knowledge of the book in which he claims to be an authority. The book of Revelation was never sealed, it was written to the first century Christians as well as for us today:

And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.(Re 22:10)

But Patrick believes he has been granted special insight and cites,

Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. (Amos 3:7).

Astonishingly, he actually appears to be implying that he qualifies as such a prophet in this video at :57. I wanted to let it pass, but it seems he really means it because he cites it again at 17:30. Are we really supposed to believe that God will not do anything without letting Patrick Heron, the endtime prophet, know first? Seriously? He certainly implies as much by repeatedly citing it. But citing this verse from Amos is a major abuse of scripture. Amos was a shepherd and farmer called to prophesy during the reigns of Uzziah (792–740 BC) in the southern kingdom and Jeroboam II (793–753 BC) in the north. Amos was not giving his opinions on the interpretation of scripture; rather he spoke the very words of God directly. The Old Testament prophets were not just prognosticators rather they were spokespersons for God and covenant enforcers. This context no longer exists as we are under a new covenant and Jesus Christ is the mediator between God and man. To apply Amos 3:7 to a modern context and especially to yourself is an egregious error and extraordinarily arrogant.

His approach is very condescending as he labels the rendering in all English translations since the 16th century as a “deception.” Yes, even the authorized KJV as well as all modern translations are demonic deceptions according to Heron! The verse in question is:

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;(2 Th 2:3, KJV)

“Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,(2 Th 2:3, ESV)

He desperately wants to believe that apostasia means a “departure” in the sense of the “rapture” the church being gathered bodily directly preceding the Great Tribulation and the coming of the antichrist. The following observations point to the implausibility of this identification.

  • The word apostasia in the Greek Old and New Testaments always refers to a “departure from faith” and never to a “catching away”, “bodily resurrection” or “gathering.”
  • A negatively religious nuance of “departure” is also dictated by the context, since in 2 Thes 2:3 it is conjoined with the man of lawlessness, and in 2 Thes 2:8–12 deception and departing from the faith also appear in conjunction with “the lawless one.”
  • The “gathering” of 2:1 is an allusion to Paul’s earlier teaching on the rapture of God’s people (1 Thess 4:14–17; cf. 1 Cor 15:52). Thus, Paul’s message to the Thessalonians was that they should not be misled because a sure sign of Christ’s return, the apostasy, has not yet taken place. This was Paul’s way of comforting them and reassuring them that they had not missed the Lord’s return. Patrick’s reading misses Paul’s point. We should expect to see a massive apostasy and the rise of Antichrist before the rapture.
  • The coming of Christ can still be imminent like “a thief in the night.” We should allow the possibility that the two signs will take place so quickly that by the time we recognize them as such, Christ’s lightning-like coming will have been set in motion (see Mt 24:27). Even so, Paul says it should not surprise us if we are alert (1 Thes 5:4). But this can be difficult because we live in the “already/not yet” period. Accordingly, the fulfillment of the prophesied apostasy and lawless one’s coming has been inaugurated and has occurred cyclically throughout history. John wrote back in the first century, “Children, it is the last hour! As you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. From this we know that it is the last hour” (1 Jn 2:18).  The last hour has been going on for 2,000 years! This explains why throughout the church’s existence many have erroneously claimed that the end has arrived. The claim is understandable, but the error lies in the inability to discern when precisely the apostasy has reached its absolute zenith and when one individual sufficiently incarnates lawlessness to the degree Paul has in mind in 2 Thes 2:4. Because of this no one can responsibly claim with absolute certainty, as Patrick does, that the end times are underway until these two signs have demonstrably occurred.

At 5:45 in the video, Patrick states that, “the answer to error is right doctrine.” This is of course true but right doctrine is derived from a sound hermeneutic which he has already abandoned at the outset with the unsealing of an open book and a gross misapplication of Amos 3:7. Of course, Patrick’s real purpose here is to promote his book and prop up the pretribulation rapture position. The word in question is apostasia. According to the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament:

ἀποστασία.

A later construction for ἀπόστασις. The word presupposes the concept ἀποστάτης “to be an apostate,” and thus signifies the state of apostasy, whereas ἀπόστασις denotes the act. Politically an ἀποστάτης is a “rebel” (Polyb., V, 41, 6; 57, 4: τοῦ βασιλέως; Diod. S., XV, 18: τῆς πατρίδος), and this sense is retained in ἀποστασία (Plut. Galb., 1 (I, 1052e): τὴν ἀπὸ Νέρωνος ἀποστασίαν; Jos. Vit., 43: διὰ τὴν ἀποστασίαν τὴν ἀπὸ Ῥωμαίων; Ap., 1, 135 f.; Ant., 13, 219.

In the LXX it also occurs in the political sense in 1 Esr. 2:23. It is particularly employed, however, in the religious sense, Jos. 22:22; Jer. 2:19; 2 Ch. 29:19 (the apostasy of Ahaz); 33:19 (of Manasseh). Cf. 1 Macc. 2:15 (used absol.); Asc. Is. 2:4. ἀποστάτης has also retained this religious sense, cf. Is. 30:1; 2 Macc. 5:8: Jason ὡς τῶν νόμων ἀποστάτης καὶ βδελυσσόμενος; Nu. 14:9; Jos. 22:16, 19: ἀποστάτης ἀπὸ τοῦ κυρίου.[1]

At 8:00, Patrick claims that Apostasia did not mean this in the Ancient Greek language. I guess someone forgot to tell the ancient Greeks that. He then cites Bullinger’s 100 year old argument concerning the construction of the term based on its roots. Interestingly, all of the translations he cited are from the 1500s!  Remember Patricks assertion in the beginning of the video that only now in the end times have the prophecies been unsealed… isn’t it odd that all of his sources are over 100 years old? (Patrick repeatedly asserts that scripture cannot contradict itself but apparently its fine when he does). The problem with using antiquated scholarship is that knowledge of the ancient Greek language has increased exponentially due to academic linguistics and archeological discoveries. Hence, today’s scholars are much more authoritative on Greek grammar and etymology. What Patrick has engaged in here is a commonly known exegetical fallacy:

1. The root fallacy

One of the most enduring of errors, the root fallacy presupposes that every word actually has a meaning bound up with its shape or its components. In this view, meaning is determined by etymology; that is, by the root or roots of a word. [2]

He claims a better rendering is “the departure” and then claims that the same term is used 15 times in the New Testament and 12 out of the 15 it is used as a departure. Yet if we search by lemma, meaning the canonical or dictionary morphology, it really only appears twice. One being the verse in question and the other in Acts:

 κατηχήθησαν δὲ περὶ σοῦ ὅτι ἀποστασίαν διδάσκεις ἀπὸ Μωυσέως τοὺς κατὰ τὰ ἔθνη πάντας Ἰουδαίους, λέγων μὴ περιτέμνειν αὐτοὺς τὰ τέκνα μηδὲ τοῖς ἔθεσιν περιπατεῖν.

“and they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or walk according to our customs.(Ac 21:21)

Hear it clearly means a departure from the faith and a rebellion as well. The important thing is how did first century people use the word. To see how Paul would have understood and used it the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, is  a great source, the term appears four times:

22 Ὁ θεὸς θεός ἐστιν κύριος, καὶ ὁ θεὸς θεὸς κύριος αὐτὸς οἶδεν, καὶ Ισραηλ αὐτὸς γνώσεται, εἰ ἐν ἀποστασίᾳ ἐπλημμελήσαμεν ἔναντι τοῦ κυρίου, μὴ ῥύσαιτο ἡμᾶς ἐν ταύτῃ, [3]

“The Mighty One, God, the Lord! The Mighty One, God, the Lord! He knows; and let Israel itself know! If it was in rebellion or in breach of faith against the Lord, do not spare us today.” (Jos 22:22)

(I will not bother to show the LXX for the rest, but I could…)

“All the utensils that King Ahaz repudiated during his reign when he was faithless, we have made ready and sanctified; see, they are in front of the altar of the Lord.”(2 Ch 29:19)

“The king’s officers who were enforcing the apostasy came to the town of Modein to make them offer sacrifice.”(1 Mac 2:15)

“Your wickedness will punish you, and your apostasies will convict you. Know and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the Lord your God; the fear of me is not in you, says the Lord God of hosts.”(Je 2:19)

So Patrick is just wrong about the common usage of the word. He is engaging in another common fallacy known as “special pleading.” He is allowing his preference for the pretribulation rapture position to cloud his exegesis. I confronted him about his qualifications to dispute the unanimous (since the 16th century anyway) English rendering of the Greek in an email and he cited his Masters degree and Doctorate in Christian Literature. According to Wikipedia:

Heron holds a B.Sc. and M.A. in Business Studies from Trinity College, Dublin. He also holds a Degree in Theology and recently received an Honorary Doctorate in Christian Literature from the California Pacific School of Theology, Glendale, California, as a result of the research done in his book, The Nephilim and the Pyramid of the Apocalypse.[4]

His academic training is in business. So, in reality, he has no Greek exegesis credentials whatsoever and even his gifted doctorate is from an unaccredited institution. I would not have brought this into it, except that he brought it up as way to give himself some credibility. In truth, it does not appear that he put in the hard work to learn Greek that even a seminary trained youth pastor has. Patrick is clearly wrong in his interpretation but that does not mean that any rapture position is necessarily falsified. However, it does seem very clear that the church will see the apostasy and rise of Antichrist. This apostasy will take place within the professing church and will be a departure from the truth that God has revealed in His Word. While it is true that apostasy has characterized the church almost from its inception, Paul referred to a specific distinguishable apostasy that will come in the future (cf. 1 Tim. 4:1-3; 2 Tim. 3:1-5; 4:3-4; James 5:1-8; 2 Peter 2; 3:3-6; Jude). Do not listen to Heron for your comfort, be prepared, listen to Paul:

Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction.(2 Th 2:3)

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,(1 Ti 4:1)

But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (1 Th 5:4–9)

And listen to Jesus:

Then many will fall away, and they will betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come (Mt 24:10–14)

For a more responsible handling of the rapture issue I commend the work of Chris White to you:

 

 



For an excellent scholarly treatment of the subject see: http://www.dbts.edu/journals/1998/combs.pdf

For an editorial see: http://moriel.org/MorielArchive/index.php/discernment/church-issues/end-times/one-insanity-is-but-a-reflection-of-the-other

[1] , vol. 1, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley and Gerhard Friedrich, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964-), 513.

[2]D. A. Carson, Exegetical Fallacies, 2nd ed. (Carlisle, U.K.; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Paternoster; Baker Books, 1996), 28.

[3] Septuaginta : With Morphology, electronic ed. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1979), Jos 22:22.

[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrick_Heron_%28author%29

Presbyterian Church of USA Goes Gay

Presbyterians OK gay pastors; Twin Cities cast deciding vote
Church will lift ban in place since the mid-1990s

Updated: 05/10/2011 11:48:22 PM CDT
An amendment to allow Presbyterian congregations across the United States to ordain openly gay pastors won approval Tuesday night, with the pivotal vote taking place in the Twin Cities.
http://www.twincities.com/ci_18036950?nclick_check=1

Confirmed by the PCUSA site here

Christ came to save sinners and of course this includes those who suffer from a sexual attraction disorder. Still yet, loving those who struggle with a sin is an entirely different matter than approving of and endorsing it. The New Testament is very clear on the results of an unrepentant homosexual lifestyle (1 Cor. 6:9) and the qualifications for leadership (1 Tim 3:2).  By allowing Pastors to model a lifestyle that leads to hell, the PCUSA is knowingly leading its sheep to the slaughter. When the ELCA Lutheran denomination passed a similar measure their meeting place was struck by a tornado, prompting John Piper to comment:

What Is Rick Warren Thinking?

I have to admit I have been hesitant to criticize Rick Warren. His book, The Purpose Driven Life,  encouraged me when I was a new Christian. I know there are a lot of folks at my church that like him too. But I can’t ignore this one.

Warren decided to lose some weight and do a major health promotion at Saddleback. Of course, everything is BIG at Saddleback so he wanted to get some top name physicians and health consultants. So does he draw from the top minds of evangelicalism? No… he went to the top of of the evil world system.

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions. ( 2 Tim 4:3)

Warren put himself and now his flock under the care of Drs. Mehmet Oz, Mark Hyman, and Daniel Amen who have developed “The Daniel Plan.” Dr. Oz , an Oprah favorite, is the host of the Emmy-winning “Dr. Oz Show” and professor of surgery at Columbia University.  His medical qualifications aside, he openly admits that he is inspired by occultist Emmanuel Swedenborg.  Swedenborg was an 8th century cult founder who had elaborate conversations “Angels”  who dictated his apostate theology. There can be no doubt that they were fallen angels because he taught that all religions lead to God and denied orthodox Christian doctrines like the atonement of Christ, the trinity and the deity of the Holy Spirit. These aren’t excusable errors. Pastor Warren is knowingly putting his church under the influence of this New Age guru. Has he no discernment? What about shame?

He is also endorsing Hyman, a New York Times best-selling author who promotes New Age Buddhist style meditation via the Shambahala center. Amen is an advocate of Buddhist Tantric sex practices and the dubious brain science behind his diet plan Change Your Brain, Change Your Body has attracted the attention of Quackwatch.org.

Seriously, Rick Warren is supposed to be a Southern Baptist, what is going on? It seems that publicity and celebrity trump doctrinal purity and protecting his flock. Perhaps he should consider the warning from James…

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. (Jms. 3:1)

He might take a hint from Francis Chan as well. For more detailed information I suggest this piece by Lighthouse  Trails Research.

How does this match up with the book of Daniel? See Unpacking the Daniel Plan.

Why Eschatology Matters Part IV: Postmillennialism

continued from Why Eschatology Matters Part IV

II. Post-millennial View: The belief that Christ will physically return to the earth only after a non-literal millennium is completed. Postmillennialism is quite optimistic about the end times in that he essential idea is that the church will exercise a transformational positive social influence in history.[1] Thus, the world is allegedly improving morally and spiritually every year. This may have seemed to be so historically, as many of the reformers, early-American colonists and puritans shared this view. Most theologians have abandoned it in the twentieth century after the two world wars and subsequent nuclear age anxiety. Today this view has been appropriated by the charismatic movement and provides the impetus for dominion or “kingdom now” theology. Dominionists believe they have a mandate to impose the kingdom by earthly means. They even believe it is their responsibility to initiate the second coming of Christ.[2]

A. Basic Premises:

i. Millennium: Literally “after the thousand years.” Some suppose the era of peace is still in the future but the majority holds that it began with the first advent of Christ and is continuing until the gospel conquers the world. The word thousand is considered symbolic of a long period of time.

ii. Resurrection: This view also maintains that there is only one resurrection much like their amillennial counterparts. They employ the same strategy of spiritualization to Revelation 20:4-5.

iii. The Binding of Satan: Satan is currently bound by the power of gospel and cannot deceive the nations.[3]

iv. The Reign of Christ: Christ reigns now in the hearts of believers. Yet, Christians are to conquer the unbelieving world through the spread of the gospel, in the power of the Holy Spirit. However, there is a disturbing trend leaning toward the emphasis of nonspiritual means.

v. The Kingdom of God: The Kingdom is manifested now in the church and increasing in its positive influence over the earth. There is a popular movement today to reclaim the “seven mountains of culture” that is derivative of this idea.[4] Even more strident, Dominionists think they are to accomplish this by military or legal force if necessary.

vi. Israel: They argue that the New Testament church became the “Israel of God” of which Paul speaks in Galatians 6:16.[5] They use the same arguments for supersessionism as the amillennialist in that God’s Old Testament covenants were conditional and no longer binding. See Micah 4:8 vs. Replacement Theology.

vii. Hermeneutic: A very similar approach to the amillennialist is used. Prophecy is understood to be preponderantly symbolic and open to allegorical interpretation. For example, “Israel” now means the church and the word “thousand” simply means an indeterminate long period of time.

B. Points of Strength:

i. Postmillennialism’s greatest strength is its optimism regarding the kingdom of God and its ability to transform the nations of the earth before Christ returns.[6]

ii. The bible promises universal gospel proclamation (Matt. 28:18–20).

iii. They also argue that the word “thousand” is used symbolically in scripture (cf. 1 Chron. 16:15; Ps. 50:10).

C. Points of Weakness:

i. Again a simple reading of the biblical text does not lead to this conclusion. The postmillennial interpretation of Rev. 19-20 seems arbitrarily imposed upon the text.

ii. Jesus clearly taught that “many will fall away”, “lawlessness will be increased” and that “the love of many will grow cold” at the time world evangelization is completed (Matt 24:10-14). In the parable of the Tares in Mt. 13:36-43, Jesus taught that evil people will continue to exist alongside of God’s redeemed people until the time of harvest. The clear implication of this parable is that Satan’s kingdom will continue to exist and expand as long as God’s kingdom grows, until Christ returns.

iii. The Apostles taught increasing apostasy toward the end of the age (2 Thess. 2:3-4, 1 Tim. 4:1,2 Tim. 3:1-5, 2 Tim 4:3-4, 2 Pet. 3:3).

iv. As explained under amillennial weakness ii, the two resurrections of Rev. 20:5 and Rev. 20:13 are described as are bodily and distinct.

v. As stated under amillennialism, the word “thousand” is used literally in the vast majority of its occurrences in the biblical text. The fact that it is repeated 5 times in Revelation 20:1-6 should give pause.

vi. History and current events do not support the idea that things are getting better for Christians. In fact, quite the opposite is true. According to the World Evangelical Alliance, over 200 million Christians in at least 60 countries are denied basic human rights solely because of their faith. David B. Barrett, Todd M. Johnson, and Peter F. Crossing in their 2009 report in the International Bulletin of Missionary Research (Vol. 33, No. 1: 32) estimate that if current trends continue, by 2025, an average of 210,000 Christians will be martyred annually.[7]

vii. Postmillennialism undermines the NT emphasis on the church’s imminent expectation of Christ’s return.  It undermines the essential element of watchfulness to the NT church. See 1 Cor. 16:22; Rom. 13:11-12; Phil. 4:5; Jas. 5:8; 1 Pt. 4:7; 1 Jn. 2:18; Rev. 1:3; 22:20.

viii. The OT identifies the “golden age” with the New Heavens and New Earth which come only after the millennium of Rev. 20 (Rev. 21-22).

ix. Scripture never teaches the progressive and eventual wholesale reconstruction of society (i.e. 7 mountains of culture) according to Christian principles prior to Christ’s return.

x. The Bible teaches that when Jesus returns, he is at war. The idea that he returns to receive a kingdom accomplished by the church is simply incoherent.  “Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.” (1 Co 15:24, Zec. 14:3, 2 Thes. 2:8, Rev. 19:15)

xi. Postmillennialism minimizes one of the primary experiences that will characterize the church and all Christians throughout this present age, suffering with Christ (2 Tim 2:3, 1 Pet. 4:13, 2 Thes.1:5, Rev.6:10). For instance, Romans 8:18-25 speaks of creation groaning for redemption, and that we “wait for it with patience” not take it by political means or force. To the contrary, much like Christ at His first coming, the church actually wins by losing…

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height
nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the
love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(Ro 8:36-39)

Next up Premillennialism


[1]Sproul, The Last Days, 9.
[2]Walter A. Elwell and Philip Wesley Comfort, Tyndale Bible Dictionary, Tyndale reference library (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001), 896.
[3] Hindson, Revelation, 86.
[4] Os Hillman. Reclaiming the 7 Mountains of Culture. 2010. http://www.reclaim7mountains.com/ (accessed 06 11, 2010).
[5]Sproul, The Last Days, 9.
[6]Geisler, Systematic Theology, 550.
[7]Unattributed. How Many Christians Killed for their Faith Every Year. http://www.persecution.net/faq-stats.htm (accessed 06/10/2010).