Abrahamic Covenant


The Hebrew Scriptures as well as a close study of ancient Near Eastern times demonstrates that covenant making was a frequent and customary tool among people groups then, just as today. The Hebrew word for covenant is בְּרִית or berith which can refer to an “agreement, alliance, covenant:” It is the equivalent of a contract between two persons or partners. 

The idea of such a covenant relationship is also easily found in the ancient Near Eastern literature (e.g. Amarna Letters). “This could have started early, because such an idea was well known in the ancient Near East from well back in the 3rd millennium BC.” This type of covenant was certainly not foreign to the Israelites. Man had increasingly gone his own way, far from God. This covenant is used as a means of relationship and expression with his people. Through the seed of Abraham God would reclaim and redeem mankind. Abraham’s willingness to believe in God and forsake all is indicative of later Jewish and Christian theologies. This covenant with Abraham is literally the foundation for the rest of the Bible. One cannot interpret and understand Scripture apart from a proper understanding of Genesis and it primary figure—Abraham and God’s covenant with him.

The Divine Contract with God and Man

In the Abrahamic Covenant God, Himself, covenants with Abraham. This covenant will prove to be unconditional and depends solely upon God who “obligates Himself in grace to bring about what He has promised.” At first, the Covenant was not revealed in definite detail to Abraham. In Gods sovereign plan He would later confirm this Covenant to Abraham in a greater measure (See Genesis 13:14–17; 15:1–7, 18–21; 17:1–8).

The Abrahamic Covenant, also known as the patriarchal covenant, comes to us from two primary sources in the Genesis account—Genesis 15 and 17. God initiated or made this covenant with Abraham, just as He had done prior with Noah (See Genesis 6:18). It is a divine contract between God and man (Abraham) with principle emphasis on at least two promises: the multiplication of Abraham’s offspring and the inheritance of the Promised Land. We will mention a third later.

“Avraham stands at the core of the entire book of Genesis, as his experiences will in many ways be reflected in those who follow him.” God first called Abraham in Ur (Genesis 11:31); Haran (12:1–4); Shechem (12:7); Bethel (13:14–17); twice in Hebron (15:5, 18; 17:1–8). God reiterates the promise to Abraham’s son Isaac (26:3–4); grandson Jacob (28:13–14; 35:11–12; 46:3–4). Even later, in 2 Samuel 7, God speaks of the same promises in His covenant with David. In the following Scriptural progression we can see the beginning of the story of redemption, as it unfolds.

The Early Unfolding:

Genesis 12:1-3, “I will make you into a great nation”: God initializes the covenant. He calls Abram (later Abraham) to “leave” his country for a land that will be given him, yet not revealed by God at the time. God promises that He will make Abram “a great nation”; “I will bless you”; a great name; be a blessing to all people of the earth; whoever curses you I will curse.

Genesis 12:4, 5 Haran: After the calling Abram and his people leave for Haran and live there until he leaves at the age of 75.

Genesis 13:14-17 Offspring and land promise: After separating from his brother (Lot) God again promises “land” to Abram and that “your offspring” will be like the “dust of the earth”(NIV). He tells Abram to walk through the land because “I am giving it to you.”(NIV)

Genesis 15:1-21“To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates”: God uses an ancient custom of passing between two sections of sacrificed animals (heifer; goat; ram; dove; pigeon) to renew His covenant with Abram. God also foretells of Israel’s being enslaved and mistreated for hundreds of years. (NIV)

Genesis 17:1-27“I am God Almighty; walk before me”: God covenants—“as for me”—with Abram when he was 99 years old. He changes his name from Abram (exalted father) to Abraham (father of a multitude). Abraham will be “fruitful” and “nations” and “kings” will come from him. He gave him and all his descendants “everlasting possession” over the “whole land of Canaan”. Circumcision begins as well as a name change and promise of of a child to Sarai (later Sarah). (NIV)

Genesis 22:15-18 “through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed”: Thru his son—Isaac—Abraham demonstrates his unflinching faith and obedience to God by being willing to offer him to God. An angel of the Lord informs him that because he did “not” withhold his son that he will “surely” be blessed and have numerous descendants. These descendants will also take possession of lands and cities. Through these same people shall “all nations on earth be blessed, because you obeyed me.” (NIV)

The Basic Ingredients of the Covenant:

1. Inheriting the land of Canaan
2. Becoming a great nation
3. Being a blessing to all nations

Indeed these basic premises of the Abrahamic Covenant are foundational to other covenants found in the Old Testament through which it changes and develops. Such covenants are the promise of land in the Palestinian Covenant (Deuteronomy 30:1-10), the promise of kingly descendants in the Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7:12–16), or the promise of blessing in the “Old” and “New” Covenants (Exodus 19:3-6; Jeremiah 31:31–40). After Genesis 12 the renewal of this covenant comes in the “form of command, promise and reward punctuates the action.”

There is a chain reaction set in motion by the hand of God when He calls Abram to leave Ur of the Chaldeans and enter a covenant relationship with Him by faith. God had called a man, out of a pagan polytheistic people, from a pagan father—Terah—to create enormous consequences for the rest of humanity.

Eternal Inheritance:
Jeremiah 7:7, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever. (NASB)
Notice the inspired author repeats the final phrase here. Rarely does God repeat things this way without significant meaning. Notice their dwelling there is not forever and ever but that the land given to their fathers is their forever and ever. Israel's disobedience caused them to be exiled from the land on a few occasions.

God promises the land to Israel, the seed of Abraham will be great and through his seed will come the savior, and that there will be blessing through Israel. These are fulfilled in a myriad of ways but from the Abrahamic Covenant does the Land Covenant, the Davidic Covenant and the New Covenant build. God basically enlarges these promises with new covenants.

The focus of the covenant was the faithfulness of God to His commitment not the faithfulness or obedience of Abraham or his physical descendants. The point is to show that God's promises remain true while Israel vascillates. In Genesis 15 when God passes through the animal halves God did not ask Abraham to pass thorugh them as well. Instead, God alone passed between. God alone is our salvation!

Besides the giving of the land another element is introduced (See Genesis 13:14-15) in the sense of "forever". The word here, seen in context or where used, usually refers to the duration of human history and can include eternity. However before this is Covenant is completely fulfilled there will be "blessing and cursing" upon Israel (Deuteronomy 30:1-2). Among the components of making his name great, blessing him, a father of great and many nations, there is also that God would give the land of Canaan as an eternal inheritance. (See Gen. 12:1-3, 17:3-8) He has indeed given the land, as an eternal inheritance. God can reclaim it at anytime and the authority by which He does this is His sovereignty and His everlasting Covenant, not with just Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob but also to Israel.

Joshua 21:8 And I will not cause the feet of Israel to wander anymore out of the land that I gave to their fathers, if only they will be careful to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the Law that my servant Moses commanded them.” (ESV)

The "if" condition here is not in relation to the land covenant. The conditional "if" is in relation to their being exiled or moved from the land. The "land" given to their fathers is still theirs. This is God's promise:

Genesis 13:15 for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. (ESV)

Abraham obeyed God and left Ur thus launching an irrevocable, unconditional program (Romans 11:29). The "I will" language included in the promises reiterated throughout the Old Testament suggest the unconditional aspect of the covenant. The promise of the land predates Moses since the promise was made to Abraham himself (Gen. 12:7, 13:14-17, 15:7-21, 17:7-8, 24:7), Isaac (Gen. 26:2-4; 28:3-4) and Jacob (Gen. 35:11-12) well before Moses ever came along. From Genesis to Chronicles we see the same thing happening. In Romans 11 Paul records that God has removed Israel out of blessing. She is blind in part but will be restored.

Romans 11:25-27, For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. 26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: 27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. (KJV)

The ordering of the Old Testament canon (or the NT one for that matter) is not a direct indication to its actual chronological order. The actual ending is around II Chronicles. Some suggest the Chronicles as a summary of the entire history of God's dealing with Israel. In the below passage, seemingly at the close of Israelite history, we have reiterated this unconditional promise to Israel:

2 Chron. 20:6-7 and said, “O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you. 7Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? (ESV)

The Blessing for All Nations

Through Abraham comes the nation of Israel. It would be from this very group of people that mankind’s greatest hope would be born—Jesus, the Christ. In Genesis 49:10-11 we read Jacob’s prophecy:
The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his. (11) He will tether his donkey to a vine, his colt to the choicest branch; he will wash his garments in wine, his robes in the blood of grapes. (NIV)
Through the family tree of Abraham comes Jesus Christ, the savior of the world. Through Him people will begin to have a right relationship, a personal covenant with God, and be blessed beyond measure.

Much later in the Epistles of Paul (Galatians 3:13, 14) we would see further fulfillment of these promises as we see that all believers are given the blessings of Abraham. We are told that that Jesus became a curse for us so that we might receive the blessings of Abraham. This begins, just like it did with Abraham. By faith through divine grace are we saved and are able to become new creatures in Christ.

J.C. Gibson has noted that the calling of Abram to leave Ur “marked a moment fraught with destiny for the whole human race, indeed for the whole created universe.” He goes on to say, “For God was behind it. Both Jews and Christians believe that by his call to this one individual God was setting in motion a series of acts of grace and judgment which would fashion a special people for him, who would lead a lost mankind back to their true home."

The Church and Israel:

Often times the church is equated with Israel. In this discussion it is important to understand that they are not identical nor are the terms interchangeable. 1 Corinthians 10:32 reflects just such a division when it says, "Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God," (ESV). Galatians 6:16 and 1 Corinthians 10:18 contrast believing Jews with unbelieving Jews.

This view however that equates them is normally referred to as Replacement Theology or serves as a component of Covenant Theology (Presbyterians and Methodists typically hold to these views). I think it is important however to identify and realize the links here but we should also realize that we are committed to the Scriptures and not historical theological interpretation. I have gotten good and useful things from both Scofield and the Reformers. Notice the words of 17th Century theologians John Owen and Nehemiah Cox:
"The New Covenant of Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant and is the clearest and final fulfillment of the historical Covenant of Grace." 
As noted earlier the Abrahamic Covenant has at least three basic ingredients. The conclusion above is only partial and does not consider this. If taken in a vacuum it could be very misleading and potentially confuses the promise of individual salvation with the promises to national Israel.

This view also supposes that the Gentiles believers described as "seed of Abraham" (Galatians 3:29) means that they are indeed Israel. Paul's description of Gentile believers in Galatians 3:29 means that they participate in the spiritual blessings that come through Israel (See Romans 15:27; 1 Corinthians 9:11, 14). In the books of Acts, both the Church (19x) and Israel (20x) are seen existing simultaneously but they also are shown as continuing to be distinct in some way. At this point the replacement theologian has no valid claims from Scripture. Robert L. Saucy has noted,
"Both the church and Israel are therefore Abraham's seed and heirs of the promise. But this does not therefore equate the church and Israel." 
To equate Israel with the Church though is a failure to see the ethnicity principle of Scripture. It also confuses God's promise of individual salvation with God's promises to national Israel. The Church has not replaced or are instead of Israel. Israel has never left the program of God. Romans 11 is a very important chapter concerning Israel and there we see that Israel, the olive tree, never ceases to be the olive tree. In fact, the Gentiles or the engrafted wild olive tree can be taken out for its arrogance if God sovereignly chooses it to be so. (Romans 11:21) In fact, it is the Jewish root itself which is supporting us. (Romans 11:18) 


[1] Thomas, R. L. (1998, 1981). New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek dictionaries : Updated editio(H1285). Anaheim: Foundation Publications, Inc. (בְּרִית berith (136b); from an unused word; a covenant:—allied(1), allies*(1), covenant(275), covenants(1), El-berith*(1), league(2), treaty(4).)

[2] Holladay, W. L., Köhler, L., & Köhler, L. (1971). A concise Hebrew and Aramaic lexicon of the Old Testament. (48). Leiden: Brill.

[3] Wood, D. R. W. (1996, c1982, c1962). New Bible Dictionary (235). InterVarsity Press.

[4] Thomas Nelson Publishers. (1996). Nelson's complete book of Bible maps & charts : Old and New Testaments. "Completely revised and updated comfort print edition"; Includes indexes. (Rev. and updated ed.). Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson.

[5] Fox, E. (1995). Vol. 1: The five books of Moses : Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy ; a new translation with introductions, commentary, and notes. The Schocken Bible (Ge 12:1). New York: Schocken Books.

[6] Dictionary of Biblical Imagery © 1998 by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA. All rights reserved.

[7] Gibson, J. C. (2001, c1981). Genesis : Volume 2. The Daily study Bible series (5). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press.

[8] Owen, John and Coxe, Nehemiah. Covenant Theology: From Adam to Christ (Palmsdale: Reformed Baptist Academic Press, 2005), 181.

[9] Saucy, L. Robert. The Church in God's Program. Copyright (c) 1972 by The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago. Pg. 75


Reigning With Christ (Millenial Reign)

Introduction to Premillenialism:

Nearing the close of the prophetic and apocalyptic Revelation of Jesus Christ to the Apostle John a startling and exciting revelation takes place. In chapter 20 John records:

(1) I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. (2) He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. (3) He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time. (4) I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (5) (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. (6) Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. Revelation 20:1-6 NIV

As the Lord has commanded him, John records the sayings of the Revelation. In 20:4-6 we see those of the “first resurrection” or those who had not compromised their “testimony of Jesus” coming to life and reigning “with Christ a thousand years.” (v. 4) Being a Jew by birth John was doubtlessly raised being faithful to the Torah and the writings of the prophets. One whom he was familiar with could no doubt be the prophet Zechariah and his prophecy in 14:9:

The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name. Zechariah 14:9 NIV

John was very aware and familiar with prophecy that related to a Messiah coming to earth to rule and reign. Zechariah makes this clear, “The LORD will be king over the whole earth.” This kingdom will be set up when Christ returns a second time, in the clouds of the sky, just as He departed (See Matthew 24:30; Revelations 1:7). His coming is a blessed hope. J. D. Pentecost has stated, “That to which all Scripture looks forward and to which all history presses is the second advent of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth.”1

The People of The Millennium:

The people enjoying the millennium will be comprised of Old Testament saints and the saved Jews and Gentiles. Throughout Scripture we see that the Bible distinguishes true Israel from the Church. Israelites can be saved here, and now. However, there are distinctions that must be made. Most of the Old Testament prophecies foretell of an earthly rule of righteousness and peace. This is satisfied soteriologically and universally but not all the promises and prophecies have been fulfilled. Removal of the curse on the earth and the elimination of sickness hasn't occured yet (see Isa. 11:6-9; 33:24) nor harmony in the animal kingdom (see Isa. 11:6-9; 65:25). The fact that a number of years is not mentioned in the prophetic writings is not needed because a reign will occur in which the explanation of a millennium is coherent. It is consistent from Old Testament to New Testament.

There is much Old Testament prophecy relating to the regathering of Israel (See Isaiah 27:12; 43:5-7; Jeremiah 12:15; 24:6; Hosea 12:9; Micah 4:6; Zephaniah 3:20). This hope of restoring Israel will occur when Christ comes again, and during the Reign of Christ for a millennia. In order to avoid confusion, we should not make Gentile Christians the recipients of Israelite prophetic fulfillment (See Romans 11:1ff.) I have addressed this more here in a post entitled Abrahamic Covenant.

The Nature of the Millenium:

The Reign of Christ is vividly prophesied of in Revelations 20—“one of the great chapters of the Bible”2 Indeed when Christ returns it will be in triumph, victory and setting up a thousand years of peace. Just prior to His return (v. 2 ff.) however an angel from heaven seizes “the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan” and binds him for the duration of the “thousand years” (NIV). Biblical scholar Donald G. Bloeshe suggests that many passages foretell of a future, in space and time, which "embodies millennial expectations":

"When we turn to the Old Testament, we find many passages that depict a future within history that embodies millennial expectations. The prophecies of the restoration of the Davidic kingdom and the return of the Jews to the holy land all have a distinctly millennial ring (cf. Is 2:1–4; 11:6–16; 49:7–26; 51:4–6; 52:10; Jer 16:16–21; 23:1–8; 32:36–44; Ezek 34:11–16; 36:24; Micah 4:1–5; 7:11–20; Joel 2:28–32; Zech 8:1–8; 14:16–21; Amos 9:14–15)."

Bloesche also explains that for scholars such as Paul Tillich the nature of the millennium is “the kairos or fulfillment of time when history will witness the dawning of righteousness and peace.”3 The timing of this righteousness and peace comes on the heels of bloodshed and tribulation. The righteousness comes when it seems unrighteousness has had the final say. It is during this millennial reign that Christ will rule over the affairs of men, from the throne of David (c.f. Isaiah 9:7; Luke 1:32).

During this much longed for peace those who have lived by faith, including Old Testament saints and believers who died during persecution—the redeemed—will reign with Christ. Verse four is quite clear that those who with Christ will reign with Christ. The ability to judge is committed to these very ones. This suggests that “they participated with Christ in the judicial rule of the nations during the Millennium.”4

The Psalmist declared, “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!” (Psalms 108:5 ESV) The nature of this millennial reign will be one characteristic of peace and righteousness. The glory of God shall literally be “over all the earth!” This time of peace will be a demonstration of man’s failure and God’s ability to triumph. The peace that man has only longed for cannot be achieved till the triumphal entry of Christ.

Indeed the principal focus of the millennium will not be on satan, since he is bound and rendered inactive. The focus and attention of this time will be upon the Lord Jesus Christ. It will be a time of revelation and manifestation by our great God and Savior. His reign will put to shame the reign of carnal men who attempted to do so apart from His wisdom.

The Reign of Christ will be a political and spiritual rule. It will be “over all the earth” or better yet it will be universal. It will be in authority and power. The Psalmist decalres: May your glory shine over all the earth. Psalm 108:5 NLT

Amillennial and Postmillennial Views:

Not everyone is convinced of a future millennial reign at all. Since the Ascension of Christ various views have emerged. This vacillation will no doubt continue as the landscape of time and history changes. Certain climactic views on earth might cause one to reconsider his or her views.

Postmillenialism is comparatively recent in origin.5 Daniel Whitby and A.A. Hodge are some of the most notable men who hold this view. This view would suggest that we are fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19) and that a kingdom of heaven, on earth, is flowering and coming to fruition today. They would point to the Parable of the Mustard Seed (See Matthew 24) and certain other parables; the successes of the Church in history are evidence as well. For the postmillennialist Christ will come after the millennium. Dr. Ed Hindson notes that “those who hold to this perspective believe that the world will continue to get better and better until the entire world is Christianized”.6

Amillennialism, meaning no millennium, would suggest a spiritual or allegorical interpretation of the relevant texts. St. Augustine is the popular founder of this view in his book, The City of God. In this work he reframed Christian understanding to believe that the church age was indeed the thousand year reign. William Hendriksen is another notable who held to this view. Adherents to this view also sees the spiritual kingdom being fulfilled now in a spiritual sense—on earth or in heaven. To the amillenialist heaven follows the Second Coming of Christ, not a literal millennial kingdom. “Those who hold to this view do not adhere to a simple and plain literal interpretation of Scripture.”7

Church History:

“It is generally agreed that the view of the church for the centuries immediately following the Apostolic era was the premillennial view of the return of Christ.”8 In his Systematic Theology Robert Culver states: “It is not surprising therefore that chiliasm (belief in the thousand-year reign) was widely spread, if not universal, in the first three centuries.”9 Phillip Schaff, in his voluminous History of the Christian Church writes:

“The most striking point in the eschatology of the ante-Nicene age is the prominent chiliasm, or millennarianism, that is the belief of a visible reign of Christ in glory on earth with the risen saints for a thousand years, before the general resurrection and judgment.1160 It was indeed not the doctrine of the church embodied in any creed or form of devotion, but a widely current opinion of distinguished teachers, such as Barnabas, Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Methodius, and Lactantius; while Caius, Origen, Dionysius the Great, Eusebius (as afterwards Jerome and Augustine) opposed it.”10

Here Schaff, who was not a proponent of premillenialism, cites men such as Barnabas, Papias, Justin, and Irenaeus as early teachers of that very view. Not long after Romish doctrines began to take root in the primitive church amillenarianism became popular. It seemed the hope of Christ’s return where man rule and reigned with Christ was misplaced. At this point amilleniarianism began to ascend and eclipse premillenialism. In the post-Reformation era however postmillennialism began its rise. Postmillennialism would lose its luster during WWII.


Using a literal method of interpretation one cannot deny that the Second Coming of Christ is both literal and accompanied by a millennial reign. It is the place, nature, and timing of these events that believers have debated for some time.

The Millennium is always possible and maybe necessary because not all of the promises given to Israel have been fulfilled. A literal reading of Revelations 20 will produce a premillenial view. Other views will have to spiritualize this unit of text. Unlike the present condition of earth, which is full of confusion and chaos, Christ will usher in a “golden era of peace and prosperity”11 This Reign of Christ will be marked by allegiance and devotion to Him alone. As a result of truly Godly leadership (Christ) joy, peace, healing, protection, and justice will flourish.

In his work The Last Things: Resurrection, Judgement, Glory Bloesch rightly warns premillennialist. He suggests:
In addition an egocentric strand runs through premillennialism. The Christian goal sometimes appears to be experiencing the pleasures of the millennium rather than glorifying God in lowly service. Our service to the world should be fueled by hope in the second advent of Christ, but this hope should turn us ever more to the world in its poverty and misery rather than away from the world toward an idyllic kingdom that lies on the other side of history.

Christians must not just sit by idle and complacent as though we must wait to experience pleasure and life in Christ only in the Millennium. The Kingdom of God has come and is coming. Jesus has come* and will come again but this does not mean believers must simply wait and do nothing. We should fuel and not stifle our "service to the world" by this "hope". It is all the more reason to do something for the Kingdom now. This side of history.


1 Pentecost, J. Dwight. Things to Come (p. 370). © 1958 by Dunham Publishing Co. Zondervan

2 Walvoord, John F. The Revelation of Jesus Christ (p 282). © 1966 by Moody Bible Institute of Chicago.

3 Bloesch, Donald. G. (2004). The Last Things: Resurrection, Judgment, Glory (91). Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

4 Gregg, S. (1997). Revelation, Four Views: A Parallel Commentary (Re 20:4-6). Nashville, Tenn.: T. Nelson Publishers.

5 Culver, Robert D. Systematic Theology © 2005 by Robert Duncan Culver. All rights reserved.

6 Hindson, Ed. Et al. The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy (p. 234). © 2004 by Tim Lahaye and Ed Hindson

7 Ibid. p. 234

8 Pentecost, J. Dwight. Things to Come (p. 373). © 1958 by Dunham Publishing Co. Zondervan

9 Culver, Robert D. Systematic Theology © 2005 by Robert Duncan Culver. All rights reserved.

10Schaff, P., & Schaff, D. S. (1997). History of the Christian church. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

11 Hindson, Ed. The Book of Revelation: Unlocking the Future (p. 200). Twenty-First Century Commentary Series © 2002 by Tyndale Theological Seminary

* In some way Jesus was active and present in the judgment of Jerusalem in AD 70 which He foretold. This however should not cause us to not look for His final return.

"It is not for you to know the times or the dates..." (Acts 1:7)

Acts 1:7 NIV
He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.

Kenneth O. Gangel has noted that the answer Christ is giving here has not been “heeded very well for almost two thousand years:”1 Despite the warning of Christ some have persisted in trying, at a feverish rate, to discern the Second Coming of Christ to set up a millennial kingdom. Besides this, and realizing there is a kingdom of Heaven, then it is hard to imagine a notion of “kingdom” pertaining to a particular location or within a fixed boundary.

In 1st Century times, no doubt, “kingdom” referred to something akin to a Roman imperial system. One where its boundaries fixed, for the time, and protected to establish peace, e.g. Pax Romana. Christ’s very threat to this notion was what ultimately caused Roman intervention and eventual crucifixion of the Messiah.

The Disciple have more reason to be concerned since the Old Testament Scriptures associates the coming of the Spirit with the coming of a kingdom (See Isaiah 32;15-20; Ezekiel 39:28-29; Joel 2:28:31). This belief system is what prompted them, along with their desire to be a part of the kingdom themselves.

Christ’s reply to the disciples was different than the reply to the mother of Zebedee’s sons. In vss. 7-9 we find His reply:

Acts 1:7-9 NIV, “He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. (8) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (9) After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

Jesus instructs them that they do not need to know the specifics times or dates because the Father has set them in His sovereignty. The Holy Spirit, or helper, will come upon them and they will be witnesses “to the ends of the earth”. The kingdom of God then is not a geographical location, as much as Eden is a place pinpointed in Iraqi topography. The Kingdom is the authoritative power and empowering by Immanuel—God with us.

Bible Contradictions? Genesis 6:3

3 Then the LORD said, "My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years." (Genesis 6:3 NIV)
The direct meaning of this last clause seems clear to most. Yet upon further examination some have suggested it is "obscure at best. 1 Notice the last clause of 6:3. It seems God is suggesting that men will live an average of 120 years since he is mortal. Critics, such as the Skeptics Annoated Bible, point to this text as a contradiction. Especially since Psalms 90:10 states:
10 The length of our days is seventy years—
or eighty, if we have the strength;
yet their span is but trouble and sorrow,
for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
The NET Bible Translator Notes suggest the time frame mentioned in 6:3 more likely "refers to the time remaining between this announcement of judgement and the coming of the flood."1

The ancient Targum suggests it refers to it as an opportunity for repentance. There are at least two interpretations for the last clause in vs. 3. The interpretation of the NET Bible is one of them, along with a view that the 120 points to a newly established life span limit on mankind.

Everett Fox, from Clark University, holds to the latter view. He suggests, “Some early interpreters take this to specify a “grace period” for humanity before the Flood. The text seems to be setting the limits of the human life span.” 2 This is not likely when you note those who frequently lived much longer, Noah himself lived for 950 years and many other patriarchs lived to be much longer as well.

G. J. Wenham confirms a problem with this interpretation when he states: “within the wider setting of Genesis this interpretation is problematic”.3 Furthermore, In Psalms 90:10 David seemingly contradicts this second interpretation when he suggests that our life span is 70 years, yet suggests that with strength it can be 80. K.A. Matthews states that “Jewish tradition understood the 120 years as opportunity for repentance (cf. Tg. Onq.; Pirke Aboth 5:2; cf. 1 Pet 3:20).” 4

20who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, (1 Peter 3:20 NIV)

The reference to 1 Peter 3:20 squares nicely here since it refers to a diving waiting. I think this makes the most sense of the complete evidence and witness of Scripture. God’s threat of God’s judgment was anticipated by an approaching event, which is why the 120 years cans serve as a prologue to the deluge.


1Reyburn, W. D., & Fry, E. M. (1997). A handbook on Genesis. UBS handbook series (145). New York: United Bible Societies.

2Fox, E. (1995). Vol. 1: The five books of Moses : Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy ; a new translation with introductions, commentary, and notes. The Schocken Bible (Ge 1:1). New York: Schocken Books.

3Wenham, G. J. (2002). Vol. 1: Word Biblical Commentary : Genesis 1-15. Word Biblical Commentary (142). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

Tg. Onq.;Tg. Onq. Targum Onkelos, ed. B. Grossfield

4Mathews, K. A. (2001, c1995). Vol. 1A: Genesis 1-11:26 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (335). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Skeptics Annotated Bible: http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/gen/6.html

Adversus Trinitas

"...unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins." (John 8:24 ESV)