The Resurrection of the Just and the Unjust Took Place in AD70

The Resurrection of the Just and the Unjust was in AD70

Syllogistic Argument for a First Century Eschaton

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Introduction

There are three acts of the mind when determining whether an argument is valid or invalid: understanding, judging, and reasoning[1]. These three acts determine if a conclusion is true by searching out if (1) the terms used in a proposition are clear, (2) the proposition is true, and (3) the argument is valid or invalid. Terms can only be clear or unclear: not true or false or valid and invalid. Propositions can only be true or false: not clear or unclear or valid or invalid. Arguments can only be valid or invalid: not clear or unclear or true or false. This isn’t how we generally use these words, but in logic textbooks (and in this article) this is how the words are used. If an argument can be shown to either have (1) a term used ambiguously, (2) a proposition that is untrue, or (3) invalid logic, then the conclusion, at best, is left unproven. This article will spend a great deal of time defining terms and showing from the Bible that the premises in each syllogism are true[2].

Definition of Terms in the Title

Before I introduce the first syllogism, I will define the terms within the title. Resurrection is used multiple ways within scripture, so clarity is necessary. For example, in John 11:25-26 Jesus identifies Himself as the Resurrection. “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?’” Jesus’ use of this term ‘resurrection’ does not include the unjust because it is limited to those who (1) believe [deeper than just recognition of existence] and (2) live [using the life and teachings of Jesus as a template for one’s own life] in Jesus. This usage of ‘resurrection’ differs from that of Paul’s usage in Acts 24:14-15 because Paul includes the unjust.

But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets; having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.

In this passage, the term is used similarly to Jesus’ use of it in John 5:28-29[3]. That is, the resurrection is the time when both the righteous and unrighteous receive their respective rewards: eternal life or eternal condemnation. So, by the phrase “resurrection of the just and the unjust” I mean the time in history when God blesses those who He considers His followers and condemns those who He deems as unfaithful.

I use ‘was’ to mean ‘took place in.’ This resurrection marks the time of the consummation of the work that the Holy Spirit did beginning with the resurrection of Jesus in AD30. While that entire transformative event lasted 40 years – and is called resurrection in some scriptures – the event called the ‘resurrection of the just and the unjust’ takes place at the consummation of the entire transformative event (i.e. the coming forth to receive the reward – the harvest – is connected to but not exactly the transformation from death to life facilitated by the Holy Spirit between AD30/ AD33 and AD70 – 2 Corinthians 3:18). This event, however, does coincide chronologically to the consummation of the previously mentioned transition.

I use the term ‘AD70’ as a synecdoche to stand for the entire war that marked the end of the Jewish state (i.e. the war between the Romans and the Jews as well as the civil war between the various Jewish sects towards the end of the 60s AD). The reason why I do not limit the term ‘AD70’ to ‘AD 70 and only AD70’ is because there are several events that Jesus associated with the fall of Jerusalem that arguably took place in the years leading up to AD70 (e.g. the tribulation of the righteous – 1 Peter 4:12ff).

‘Syllogistic Arguments’ simply means that my arguments will include three terms, two premises, and a conclusion. I will go into more detail in the last portion of the article as to what constitutes a valid argument.

‘First Century Eschaton’ means that the “last things” of scripture (i.e. the judgement, the resurrection, the coming of the Lord) took place in the first century as opposed to the second century, the 19th century, or sometime in our future. This view is contrary to what most of Christendom believes, but the conclusion of the majority is not the same as truth. Truth is no more bound to the will of the majority as morality is.

When I use the terms above defined, I am using them in the same ways as defined above and will indicate if I am using them in a separate way.

Presuppositions of the Author

It is necessary to point out several things about my approach to this article. I am operating off several assumptions: (1) the Bible is the inspired word of God, (2) the Bible is the final word when it comes to matters of theology, and (3) any apparent contradiction in the Bible only exists because the reader has a view that is biblically flawed. A brief explanation of these presuppositions are as follows: (1) the Bible comes from God and contains knowledge that God desires us to have, (2) the Church, tradition, and popular belief only serve as fallible commentaries of scripture and are always trumped by a proper interpretation of the Bible, and (3) man is an imperfect creature attempting to interpret a perfect book, so any shortcoming are on part of the reader and not the Bible. This means that including the phrase “the Bible teaches…” before each premise is implied from here on out and, therefore, unnecessary.

Syllogism on The Resurrection and the Coming of Christ

The resurrection of the just and the unjust takes place at the coming of the Lord.

The coming of the Lord took place in AD70.

Therefore, the resurrection of the just and the unjust took place in AD70.

 

For the sake of further simplicity, we will reword the syllogism.

 

[The resurrection of the just and the unjust] is [that which[4] takes place at the coming of the Lord].

[The Coming of the Lord] is [that which took place in AD70].

So [the resurrection of the just and the unjust] is [that which took place in AD70].

 

Putting each proposition into brackets like this allows us to easily determine (1) the identity of each term, (2) the truthfulness of the proposition, and (3) if the argument is valid or not. If it can be shown that (1) the terms are not used ambiguously, (2) the premises are true, and (3) the logic is valid, then the conclusion is true.

Defining the Terms

The only term that has yet to be defined is ‘the coming of the Lord’ which is considered the “middle” term – that is, the term that links both the major term (the resurrection of the just and the unjust) and the minor term (that which took place in AD70) together. Simply defining the individual words in the term ‘the coming of the Lord’ will get one nowhere in removing the ambiguity that may exist within the term. Instead, the concept of this term needs to be shown from the Bible, but defining the individual words is a good start.

The word ‘coming’ is translated in our English Bibles from the Greek word παρουσία (Parousia – G3952). It literally means, according to Thayer’s Lexicon, “presence or presence of one coming (i.e. arrival or advent).” It is used a total of twenty-four times in the Greek New Testament and is most often used in relation to Jesus. ‘The Lord’ is a reference to Jesus who is the Christ. So, based purely off definition, ‘the coming of the Lord’ means ‘the presence or arrival of Jesus.’ This, however, is still much too ambiguous to leave the matter at that because the concept of the coming of the Lord differs between Christians. For example, some see it to be a physical return to the earth while others believe that Jesus will not go further than “the second heaven” and will have the appearance of John’s description in Revelation 1.

In order to gain the full concept of what ‘the coming of the Lord’ is, one can take two routes: evaluate every passage that mentions this event and evaluate it thoroughly – which would surely be beneficial to everyone involved – or one could, based upon the presuppositions listed above, use inductive reasoning by surveying a few passages and determine from them the concept of the coming of the Lord. The first mention of ‘the coming [Parousia] of the Lord’ in Scripture is Matthew 24:3. “As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?’” The disciples here are the first to introduce this word Parousia into Scripture, but this is not a word that Jesus is opposed to. In fact, He uses this word Himself three times within Matthew 24 (verses 27, 37, and 39). Though the word Parousia was not used elsewhere in Jesus’ ministry, the concept certainly was taught throughout Jesus’ ministry. For example, Jesus also utilized the word ̓́ρχομαι [Erchomai – G2064] in this chapter as well as elsewhere in His teachings (e.g. Matthew 16:27-18 and Matthew 26:64). This shows that a concept is greater than a definition, and that the concept of a thing is not limited to the dictionary definition found at its entry.

What does the disciples question tell us about the concept of the coming of the Lord? By itself, nothing, but this passage does offer us valuable information: (1) the disciples connected the coming of the Lord to the end of the age as well as to the fall of the temple (see the preceding verses), (2) the disciples learned of the coming of the Lord either from Jesus, from their traditions, from the Hebrew Scriptures, or all three, and (3) they recognized Jesus as the one who would be coming. The third point helps clarify the source of the disciples’ knowledge. Jesus must have at some point taught that He would come again. In Matthew 16:27-28 He did just that:

For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS. Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.

The word Erchomai is used in verse 27 and 28 indicating that these are the same coming – a coming that would be before some there would not taste death. Before we continue with this verse, it is advantageous to point out a passage from the writings of Paul: “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom” (2 Timothy 4:1). This passage as well speaks of the coming of the Lord as well as the judgement of “every man” as Matthew 16:27 says. On the same subject, John said, “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done” (Revelation 22:12). In all three passages we have (1) the coming of the Lord, (2) the judgement of every man, and (3) a reward to the faithful (i.e. the kingdom). This was to take place within the lifetimes of the first century audience, and around thirty years after Jesus’ Ascension, John recorded that it would take place quickly.

Going back to the passage from Matthew 16, we learn that Jesus would come in the “glory of His Father.” This passage contains references to several Old Testament texts such as Daniel 7:13-14 as well as Proverbs 24:12. If we ask, however, what the nature of the Father’s glory is, we know it to be a spiritual glory, for “God is a spirit…” (John 4:24). Multiple times in the Old Testament the glory of God was represented by a cloud (e.g. Exodus 13:21 and Isaiah 19:1). In like manner, the Bible says that Jesus would come in a cloud (e.g. Matthew 24:30 and Revelation 1:7). This statement “in the glory of His Father” makes perfect sense, and it is used in a spiritual sense to paint a picture of the glory and majesty of Christ instead of demanding that Jesus ride a physical cloud.

This passage, and others like it, show what the concept of the term ‘the coming of the Lord’ means: Jesus displaying His glory and power in the same way that God did in other “days of the Lord” in the Old Testament (i.e. through judgement on a nation such as the Egyptians or Babylonians). There is no precedent in the Old Testament or in the teachings of Jesus to indicate a different concept of ‘the coming of the Lord.’ When one surveys other New Testament, passages concerning the coming of the Lord, he will find that the passage is based upon the concept established by the teachings of Jesus.

Determining the Truthfulness of the Premises

[The resurrection of the just and the unjust] is [that which takes place at the coming of the Lord].

There are several passages that show that the resurrection of the just and the unjust accompany the coming of the Lord. We have already mentioned several such as 2 Timothy 4:1, but others include Revelation 19-20 where John records His vision of the rider on the white horse who comes at the time of the emptying of Hades and judgement of all men. 1 Corinthians 15 does not help prove the validity of this proposition because 1 Corinthians 15 only deals with the just – not the unjust.

[The Coming of the Lord] is [that which took place in AD70].

Returning to a passage I looked at earlier, one can determine the truthfulness of this premise. In Matthew 24 Jesus gives an entire discourse to answer the disciples question. While it would be good for one to read the entire passage, for times sake we I will notice a few passages that will paint the picture of Jesus’ answer.

This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. (Matthew 24:14-16).

For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. (Matthew 24:27)

But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. (Matthew 24:29-31)

Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. (Matthew 24:34)

From this we can gather that (1) the fall of Jerusalem would take place in that generation, (2) the end that the disciples asked about would take place at the fall of Jerusalem within that generation, and (3) the coming of the Lord that the disciples asked about would take place at the fall of Jerusalem within that generation.

From this we can know that both premises are true. All that is left to discover if the syllogism as valid logic. Remember that for a conclusion to be true that (1) the terms must be clear, (2) both premises must be true, and (3) the argument must be valid.

Determine the Validity of the Argument

One way to determine the validity of the argument is to draw a simple diagram.

From this diagram made from our premises, we can see that the coming of the Lord is included in things that took place in AD70, and since the resurrection of the just and the unjust is an event that accompanies that coming of the Lord, then it too took place in AD70.

Another way to determine the validity of an argument is to see if it breaks any of Aristotle’s six rules. For the argument to be false, one of the following rules would have to be violated:

  1. All syllogisms must have three and only three terms.
  2. A syllogism must have three and only three propositions.
  3. The middle term must be distributed (universal) at least once.
  4. No term that is undistributed (particular) in the premise may be distributed in the conclusion.
  5. No syllogism can have two negative propositions.
  6. If one premise is negative, the conclusion must be negative, and if the conclusion is negative then one premise must be negative.

After surveying the above rules in relation to my first syllogism, the argument is valid.

Is the Conclusion True?

The resurrection of the just and the unjust takes place at the coming of the Lord.

The coming of the Lord took place in AD70.

Therefore, the resurrection of the just and the unjust took place in AD70.

 

After several pages of work, it has been shown that the terms are clear, the premises are true, and the argument is valid; therefore, the conclusion is true. The resurrection of the just and the unjust truly did take place in AD70.

This conclusion may be different from one may have traditionally thought to be true, but we must be willing to conform our thoughts to what the Bible teaches and not the other way around. If the Bible is our only authority (which it is), and if this conclusion is true according to the Bible (which we have shown), then the honest person has no choice but to accept it unless he can show how a term is used ambiguously, a premise is false, or the argument is invalid.

 

I understand that most people who read this paper will already agree with my conclusion before ever reading. The main purpose of writing it is so that I can put into to practice some concepts that I have learned from a textbook that I have been working through, and to impart some of that knowledge into the reader that may be interested in sharpening their ability to reason.

[1] All references to technical definitions in logic are taken from Peter Kreeft’s book Socratic Logic (2014, St Augustine Press). This book is available from Amazon, and it is well worth the read to the one who wishes to think more clearly.

[2] In this paper, the E-Sword version of the New American Standard Bible will be used unless otherwise noted. The words in all caps indicate a quotation from the Old Testament.

[3] Terms are not equivalent to definition, but to concepts. A concept is more than a definition. For example, the definition of dog is “a domesticated carnivorous mammal that typically has a long snout, an acute sense of smell, and a barking, howling, or whining voice. It is widely kept as a pet or for work or field sports.” This definition does not deal with the concept of “dogness” that one may have.

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