Amillennialism and Two-Age Interpretive Grid

Whenever I read this argument from amillennialists (“The Two-Age Model as Interpretive Grid”), I find myself wondering how they might respond to this (“Amillennialism and the Ages to Come”). Perhaps someone out there can tell me.

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10 responses to this post.

  1. You’re right Matt. Read Lincoln’s comment in WBC where he walks all around the issue and then offers a less than satisfactory answer that ignores what you pointed out. He says the plural “may stand under the liturgical influence of the formulae for eternity.” Is he serious?

    P.T. Obrien is closer to the point. After noting that the traditional “two-age” view is unlikely in Eph. 2:7 he states (following F. F. Bruce), “The plural ages is not simply a stylistic variation of the singular, but a more general conception, implying ‘one age supervening upon another like successive waves of the sea, as far into the future as thought can reach.'”

    However, theologically I would point out that the “ages” spoken of are not endlessly successive. We would all agree that there is a final age called the eternal state. It’s how we get there (i.e., to that age) that is debated.

  2. Matt,

    Thanks for the two links. As I am struggling through covenant/dispensational thinking, Could you point to some resources that you found helpful, even fair to the other side that helped in your present understanding? This would be much appreciated.

  3. Posted by Matt Waymeyer on May 2, 2008 at 5:13 am

    Trey: Quick note to say that I just saw your comment, but I’m jam packed with meetings the rest of day. But check back tomorrow–I should have something for you then.

  4. Posted by christiangadfly on May 2, 2008 at 6:13 am

    I guess I’ll be the odd man out on this by stating that none of the arguments about these sorts of things really excites me any more. I’ve probably heard every argument for every kind of age and or dispensation there is during my lifetime, but none of it really means much. The key is, Jesus told us that no one knows when it will come, but that we should always be ready. I think he was also quite clear that our primary focus should be on the here and now, although we certainly look forward to the hope of being in his presence in the future. Sadly, far too many folks focus all their attention on what’s going to happen in the future and forget the here and now.

    Sorry, but that’s the way I feel about the whole thing. What’s even more sad is that I’m even hearing people describe today’s Christians as the “Left Behind” generation. Is that how we want to be remembered?

    Okay, I’m done preaching now.

  5. Posted by Scott Christensen on May 2, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    Does anyone know how Hoehner handles this passage? I don’t have his commentary on Ephesians.

  6. Posted by Matt Waymeyer on May 2, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    Trey, here are some recommendations:

    On Premillennialism:

    1. The Coming Millennial Kingdom (eds Donald J. Campell and Jeffrey L. Townsend)
    2. Revelation 20 and the Millennial Debate (Matt Waymeyer)

    On Dispensationalism:
    1. “Systems of Discontinuity” by John Feinberg, which is ch. 3 in Continuity and Discontinuity (ed. John Feinberg)
    2. The Case for Progressive Dispensationalism (Robert Saucy)

    On Covenant Theology:
    1. Christ of the Covenants (O. Palmer Robertson)

    On Amillennialism:
    1. The Case for Amillennialism (Kim Riddlebarger)

    On Postmillennialism:
    1. Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope (Keith A. Mathison)

    I would most highly recommend that you read the chapter by Feinberg listed above. It will give you a very helpful explanation of the differences between disp theology and cov’t theology. I have given it to many people on both sides of the debate as a helpful summary of the issues.

    Blessings to you as you study!

  7. Posted by Matt Waymeyer on May 2, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    Scott,

    Hoehner says that the prepositional phrase can be interpreted in one of three ways:

    1. It may refer to the succeeding future ages beginning with the first century right up until the parousia.

    2. It may refer to the future after the parousia.

    3. It may refer to a combination of the first two options where it speaks of the future succeeding ages beginning in the first century and continuing into the future after the parousia.

    Hoehner leans toward the third view, whereas I would take the second view.

  8. Posted by Martin McCullah on June 20, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    Matt,

    I read the articles and I am not sure what to think. I have been wrestling through these issues the past 6 months and still have not come to a solid conclusion. Often I feel like a reed blown about in the wind in regards to certain aspects of the eschaton.

    However, after researching the word for ages in Ephesians 2:7, I notice that it is the same word used for age. I am wondering how the translator came to the conclusion that this was the plural form of the greek word. Do you have any idea? If the greek word is the plural form why is the translation not consistent. In other words, why does the translator not translate the same word (aion) in Matthew 12:32 and Ephesians 2:7 also (aion)?

    Thanks for all your hard work and study. You are an example to me.

  9. Posted by Matt Waymeyer on June 20, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    “I am wondering how the translator came to the conclusion that this was the plural form of the greek word.”

    The ending of the word as it appears in the Greek NT in Eph 2:7 tells us that the noun is plural, thus the translation “ages.”

    Martin, may the Lord bless your study as you continue to dig in!

  10. Posted by Martin McCullah on June 21, 2008 at 3:25 am

    Matt,

    Thanks for helping me out. Obviously I have not learned Greek and was using a concordance. After doing some research I did notice that the word was different in Greek; I looked it up on Biblegateway and compared the two verses in the Greek New Testament.

    In regards to your question about how Amillennialists would respond to ages in Ephesians 2:7, here is what I found in Vincent Cheung’s commentary on Ephesians, “The meaning of “in the coming ages” appears to differ from “in the [age] to come” in
    1:21. Whereas Paul is making the typical two-age distinction in 1:21 (“not only in the
    present age but also in the one to come”), here he is likely referring to all the coming
    centuries of time relative to the writing of this letter, but probably also including “the age
    to come.”
    In other words, God’s chosen ones are already seated with Christ so that he might
    demonstrate his grace and kindness to us, not only in the age to come, but also throughout
    these centuries in which the church exists and labors on the earth. Just as God has
    demonstrated “the surpassing greatness of His power” (1:19, NASB) in the resurrection
    and exaltation of Christ, he now demonstrates “the surpassing riches of His grace” (2:7,
    NASB) in the raising and seating of Christians with Christ.” (http://www.vincentcheung.com/books/ephesians.pdf; pg 70; paragrahs 2-3)

    I hope that answers your question.

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