A couple of days ago, i was reading through Paul’s letter to the saints at Philippi. In the context of the “resurrection from the dead”, he states:
Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Philippians 3.17-21 ESV)
As far as i know, verse 21 is a standard text used by Christians to enforce the doctrine of the resurrection of the body ~ that is, our flesh. And it sure does seem that way, don’t it? “Ahhh, not so fast”, screams the full preterist who believes that all prophecy has been fulfilled, “Look at the Greek!”
Overlooking the fact that hardly any full preterist i know can even read Greek (and i know a bunch)…they will raise a question similar to the one Max King raised in his book “The Spirit of Prophecy”:
Why did he use the plural,’our’ and the singular ‘body,’ if he were talking about a general resurrection of individual dead bodies?
Was Max wrong in pointing out that the word for ‘body’ is singular? No. “Aha…then we’re right! ‘Body’ is being used metaphorically here. He is referring to a spiritual/covenant/corporate body. A single body that they all partook in. How then could the orthodox be so blind? They only reject the clear wording and teaching of Scripture at this point because they love their creeds/confessions more than they do the truth!” So goes the rhetoric and pressure from the full preterists.
“Ahhh, but not so fast”, says i.
Friends, there is something to be said about patience when studying Scripture. As a general practice, full preterists are not very patient. You see this impatience at work on the various forums. An idea is thrown out there; a couple of people chew on it in a 48 hour period; and voila! another dogmatic argument is added to the full pret arsenal. When i first encountered this argument from full preterists, i lacked patience as well and bought it hook, line, and sinker.
Not any more…
After reading this text the other day, i started to ask myself numerous questions. You know…ponder the text…not be quick to jump on any fulfillment bandwagon. And one of the first questions that came to mind was this: are there any other places in Scripture where a genitive plural (our) is used with a singular noun (body) that clearly, beyond any shadow of a doubt and agreed by all, does not hint to some ‘spiritual/ covenant/ corporate’ thingy shared by a plurality? I didn’t have to go far:
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. (Philippians 4.23 ESV)
‘Spirit’ is singular. ‘Your’ is plural. Now, who is going to argue from this text that the ‘spirit’ mentioned here is referring to some corporate/covenant singular unity type of thingy? I can just hear it now, “Yeah, but they were all baptized into one body…one Spirit. I Co 12.13.” That, of course, would be absurd. Surely Paul is not suggesting that the Holy Spirit is in need of some ‘grace’.
See how tricky this all gets? Heretical doctrine typically does not start off sounding absurd. Heretical teachers may even make a legitimate observation about Greek words and even connect us to a true interpretation of another text that we would all agree on. It is that little bit of truth that is mixed in with error that usually hooks an impatient person like myself.
Not convinced from Phil 4.23? Try this one from two letters over:
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (I Thessalonians 5.23 ESV)
‘Your’ is plural. ‘Spirit’, ‘soul’, & ‘body’ are all singular. Which of you full preterists are now going to tell me that the “spirit, soul, and body” mentioned here is not a reference to the makeup of each individual person, but is instead referring to some corporate/ covenant/ spiritual single metaphorical body that they all participated in?
I’m not done yet:
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; (1 John 3:17-19 ESV)
See ‘our heart’ in v. 19? ‘Our’ is plural, ‘heart’ is singular. So, are we to believe that if one person within the church closed his heart against his brother and God, then all persons within the church were to doubt that they were of the truth, since they ALL shared in one single corporate/ covenant/ spiritual heart? Come on now.
You got some of it correct Mr King but unfortunately you went on to ask a question and force an interpretation that could have easily been avoided. Dear full preterists…slow down. Stop. Think. Give it ‘time’. Your argument* is not as solid and thorough as you think.