Irrefutable Refutation of Hyper-Preterism

For starters, let’s define some terms. By “hyper-preterism,” I include any belief system that argues for the past fulfillment of all prophecy, which necessarily includes the general resurrection of the dead. Whether a system is labeled “full-preterism,” “pantelism,” or “covenant eschatology,” it makes no difference to this refutation. I can not care less what any of these systems positively state regarding the general resurrection. At one time, I counted at least six different views among them. They can hash out their heretical opinions amongst themselves. But what they all have in common is that an “all-is-fulfilled eschatology” must of necessity deny a general, self-same, bodily resurrection.

The purpose of this post is to demonstrate beyond any reasonable doubt that this same denial existed among a few at the church in Corinth, and in I Corinthians 15, esp. verses 12-18, Paul destroys their false belief. Paul affirms belief in the bodily resurrection, and since this has not occurred, it remains a prophecy yet to be fulfilled.

Some of my readers may be unfamiliar with this chapter, so let me set this up. The letter of 1 Corinthians is a corrective epistle by the Apostle Paul, designed to correct numerous problems in their church, including but not limited to misuse of the Lord’s Supper, cliques, abuse of spiritual gifts, and sexual immorality. When we reach chapter 15, Paul addresses a false belief held by some that the “dead are not raised.” We know this to be the case because of verse 12b, where Paul asks, “how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” Hyper-preterists agree that some in Corinth denied the “resurrection of the dead,” but the nature of the resurrection is questioned.

I will now prove to you that what this small group in Corinth was denying was a self-same, bodily resurrection.

First, I want to draw your attention to how Paul starts his defense:

Verse 1. Now I would remind you, brothers, of the Gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me….11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

Notice a couple of things from this:

1. Note the essential elements of the Gospel that Paul highlights to begin his defense. The Gospel consisted of Christ’s physical death for our sins, the burial of that same body, and the physical resurrection of that same body. Everything highlighted here by Paul involves the physical body of Christ.

2. Note that Paul informs the Corinthians that hundreds, if not thousands, witnessed a bodily resurrected Christ. And just in case you doubt the nature of Jesus’ resurrected body, Lk 24 reminds you:

…they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.

Paul does not want you, the reader, to miss the undeniable fact that Jesus physically died, was buried, and bodily resurrected from the grave; and hundreds of people could attest to that fact.

3. Note that Paul reminds them that this Gospel, which includes the essential doctrine of the bodily resurrection of Christ, is the Gospel with “you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached….”

Here is an important observation: these resurrection deniers did not deny the bodily resurrection of Christ! What they refused, for various reasons, was that the rest of the dead would be resurrected. Because they believed in the bodily resurrection of Christ, Paul is now able to capitalize on that shared belief and demonstrate that if they deny resurrection for the rest of the dead, they must of necessity reject that which they accepted – the bodily resurrection of Christ.

Paul hammers this home a couple of times:

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.

He argues again in v 16:

For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.

And herein lies the undeniable proof that the resurrection that this “some” in Corinth were denying was of a self-same, bodily nature.

First, note that Paul’s primary argument against these deniers was to establish a LOGICAL, thus NECESSARILY IMPLIED, relationship between the “resurrection of the dead” with the “resurrection of Christ.” It is the LOGICAL relationship between these two beliefs which constitutes the force of Paul’s argument. If we were to convert Paul’s words to the language of logical forms, Paul is essentially arguing in verses 13 and 16 that “if it is true that ‘No A is B,’ then it cannot be true that ‘Some A is B.’”

Now, I could spend a great deal of time getting into a technical explanation of logic, propositional forms, immediate inferences, and syllogisms. But I don’t want to lose some readers. The basic idea is straightforward here. Anyone can grasp this. Let’s put it in plain English:

If a person is claiming that no one can rise from the dead, he is claiming that the resurrection of the dead is UNIVERSALLY impossible. No one can do it. There are no exceptions. And if that is true, then obviously it cannot be true at the same time that a PARTICULAR person can raise from the dead; because now you are making the exception and contradicting yourself. Either no one can do it, or some can. It cannot be both. And the flip side to it is this; if it is true that Jesus rose from the dead, which these deniers accepted, it is false to say that “no one” can rise from the dead. Simple, right?

Secondly, having demonstrated the logical relationship between the two propositions, let us now consider an essential component of logical connections. For Paul’s logical argument to work, his terms have to mean the same thing throughout! Because if a word or phrase means different things in an argument, then the propositions are talking about two different things, and thus the relationship is broken. In logic, this is the fallacy known as equivocation. If “resurrection of the dead” for the general populace does not mean the same thing that “resurrection of the dead” means regarding Jesus, then Paul’s logical argument loses support!

Imagine this: Suppose you argue that, “No man can jump 100ft in the air solely on his own muscle power.” And then a challenger comes along and says, “hogwash! My brother jumped 150ft in the air!”

“Prove it,” you say. So the guy drives home, picks up his brother, and returns to you.

“Alright, let’s see you jump.”

The guy then slips on some futuristic rocket boots by NASA, jumps about a foot high, triggering the thrusters, and launches 150ft into the air.

Did he prove it? OF COURSE NOT. Why? Because jumping with rocket boots is NOT the same thing as jumping “solely on your own muscle power.”

Those are two different things. You didn’t argue that no one could do it with NASA rocket boots. You argued that no one could do it “solely on their own power.”

Again, simple, right?

Paul’s LOGICAL argument is that if we are going to claim that no one, universally, can rise from the dead, then it is impossible for Jesus, a particular example within that universal, to have risen from the dead.

The force of Paul’s argument rests in these two points: (1) he establishes a logical relationship between the “resurrection of Christ” with the “resurrection” of other dead people and (2) whatever is meant by “resurrection” must mean the same thing throughout the argument for the argument to work. And since the self-same, bodily resurrection of Christ is clearly in view, then the self-same, bodily “resurrection of the dead,” is what is in contention for the rest of the dead.

We can paraphrase Paul in this manner to bring out fully his meaning:

If dead bodies can not resurrect, then it logically follows that Christ’s dead body did not resurrect.

And folks, if that is true, then, as Paul goes on to explain, all those who witnessed and spoke of the resurrected Christ were liars. You might as well chunk your Bible. But the bodily resurrection of the dead is not impossible. And Exhibit A is Jesus Christ himself, who not only bodily resurrected, but was seen by hundreds, if not thousands, and was the “firstfruit of those fallen asleep.” (v. 20)

There is no other way to understand Paul’s words here. Some were denying the resurrection of bodies yet accepted that Christ bodily rose, so Paul argues that those two beliefs contradict one another because of the logical relationship between them. They both cannot be true at the same time. And since Christ did bodily rise, then there can be no objection to the rest of us bodily rising. Thus, Paul establishes the physical and bodily resurrection for the rest of us.

If a heretical hyper-preterist (or any other resurrection denier) wants to argue that the nature of their denial involved something other than self-same, bodily resurrection, they have to demonstrate, at minimum, two things: (there is so much more to get into with this chapter)

1. What is the nature of the resurrection that they denied?

2. How does the nature of that denial correspond directly to Christ’s resurrection, so that Paul can include the particular example of Christ within the universal negative and thus not commit a logical fallacy by equivocating on terms?

What hyper-preterists posit cannot make sense of Paul’s logical argument and everything leading up to it.

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5 years ago

Or it could be that when they said there was no resurrection of the dead they were teaching that the old covenant saints wouldn’t be resurrected. In other words. If Christ is the first fruits from the old covenant saints how can you say there is no resurrection of the dead ones(old covenant saints). The dead being resurrected in question is not “all” dead. They already believed those “in Christ” would be resurrected but not the old covenant ones. But Paul uses the modis podens argument :

If you believe that Christ was the firstfruits (of the old covenant saints) and that your loved ones and any in Christ will be raised , then you must also believe in the resurrection of the old covenant saints as well.

John Flora
John Flora
5 years ago

Thanks for your article, Jason; I think you nailed it.
I’ve been wrestling with the hyper preterist view for a while now.. it seems to me that if their view of resurrection as having already occurred in the first century can be proven as false (which I think your argument demonstrates), then the entire system of full preterism goes straight down the tubes, don’t you think?
Because all eschatological elements are inseparably linked within the same time frame e.g. resurrection from the dead, final judgment, pervasive elimination of sin and death from all sectors of reality, etc…

John Flora
John Flora
Reply to  Jason L Bradfield
5 years ago

Hi, Jason; I didn’t realize you had replied to my comment, thanks for the response; I came back today to reference your article for my pastor, we’ve been talking a little about hyper-preterism, and wanted to send him your link here.

Yes, absolutely, the “already/not yet” prophetic pattern is all through the scriptures.
When reading your reply, the passage that came to mind is John 5:25-29..

“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.

For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.

And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.

Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice

and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.”

I think when Jesus says in vs 25 that “the hour.. is now here” of the dead hearing his voice and coming alive/receiving life..
isn’t only the kingdom breaking in with Jesus’ miracles in his earthly ministry, such as Lazarus coming back to life, but that was also the start of the promised resurrection from the dead for the whole house of Israel i.e. spiritual resurrection by the hearing of faith through the proclamation of the gospel of the kingdom, the gospel of grace.

But, in vss 28-29, all those in the tombs will hear him and come out at “the coming hour”..

So, what I’m getting at is sort of like your logic in your article, but in reverse..
why would he say they were hearing and living at the very moment he was speaking, but then at a coming hour, they’re coming out of the tombs, both good and bad?
In other words, coming out of the tombs has to be something different than the hearing and living that was happening as he was speaking..
which can only mean actual bodily resurrection from the tombs, as far as I can tell.

If not, then why else would he word it with seemingly calculated, differing descriptions for the now and the not yet?
Maybe I’m over analyzing? What do you think?

John Flora
John Flora
5 years ago my last comment, I basically said Israel was already “hearing and living” while Jesus speaking with them..
but, it would have been clearer for me to say they were already “hearing and coming alive” (spiritual regeneration).

Just wanted to clarify.

Mark Tinley
Mark Tinley
4 years ago

I am a full-preterist. I have to be honest that I did not read your article because I have heard these arguments which you call “irrefutable” many times over the last 20 years. Just skimming it was enough to show it was nothing really new to me. The truth is ….

* Blah, Blah, Blah *

Jon Paul
Jon Paul
4 years ago

At the end of your article you asked:

1. What is the nature of the resurrection that they denied?

What if the nature of the resurrection of which Christ is an example was not that he was physically raised but that he returned from Sheol, the place where the Old Covenant saints were kept?
The question Paul is addressing is not can physical bodies be raised but if people who have once gone to Sheol can then have some sort of renewed life afterward and Christ’s physical resurrection was a demonstration of that. Christ proceeded to go onto heaven later, he didn’t remain on earth.

Later in verse 54 he says

54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”

What death was he talking about here? Physical death? No, Sheol death.

Hosea 13:14
I shall ransom them from the power of Sheol;
I shall redeem them from Death.
O Death, where are your plagues?
O Sheol, where is your sting?
Compassion is hidden from my eyes.

This tells us where the saints lived at the time Paul wrote this epistle. They were in Sheol waiting for the resurrection unto heaven (2 Corinthians 5). Now if you are saying that the dead weren’t raised in 70AD, then of necessity you must conclude that believers go to Sheol when we die today not to heaven.

Now you have argued that they would be bodily raised. That also demands that they are meant to live on earth forever. Now you could say heaven in earth merge in the end but either way it must be visible on earth. However, the Bible never describes earth as the final dwelling place of Christians but heaven.

“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, **eternal in the heavens**. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our **heavenly dwelling**, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked.”

Philippians 3:20-21 But **our citizenship is in heaven**. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

They weren’t being resurrected so they could live forever on earth, they were being resurrected so they could live forever in Heaven with their new “Heavenly bodies.” And as I have already proven, they were coming directly from Sheol.

In the traditional Christian view, we all went to Heaven at the cross and then will return to earth in the last days in a resurrected body. That of necessity demands that we are disembodied spirits floating in heaven with no resurrected body. But when Revelation describes the resurrection of the dead where does it say they are coming from? Heaven? No, Sheol or it’s Greek equivalent, “Hades.”

12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, **Death and Hades (Sheol) gave up the dead who were in them**, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them.

The dead were coming out of Sheol to a new life in Heaven, not from Heaven to a new life on earth.

Now if the dead spirits were invisible in Sheol, and they would be resurrected in new Heavenly bodies to dwell in Heaven which is invisible, why would their resurrection have to be visible to us?

However we do have signs of this resurrection happening:

Josephus (A.D. 75) – Jewish Historian

“Besides these [signs], a few days after that feast, on the one- and-twentieth day of the month Artemisius, [Jyar,] a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared; I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those that saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for, before sun-setting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armour were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities. Moreover, at that feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner [court of the] temple, as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, they said that, in the first place, they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, “Let us remove hence” (Antiquities of the Jews book 17-20 – The life of Flavius Josephus)

Daniel Morais of states:
In A.D. 66 when the Jewish revolt began, Nero Caesar was in Greece building a canal. Concerning the construction of this waterway, Cassius Dio writes, “[W]hen the first workers touched the earth, blood spouted from it, groans and bellowings were heard, and many phantoms appeared. Nero himself thereupon grasped a mattock and by throwing up some of the soil fairly compelled the rest to imitate him.” [Cassius Dio Roman History 63.16.] In recording this same event, Suetonius indicates that as Nero broke the ground the sound of a trumpet was heard. [Suetonius Lives of the Twelve Caesars 6.19.] The fact that a trumpet was heard at the time in which the dead were raised is a clear fulfillment of 1 Corinthians 15:52: “For the trumpet will sound, [and] the dead will be raised imperishable . . .”

We have evidence by multiple historians that the dead were raised in 66AD when Jesus was seen on the clouds. However they didn’t remain on the earth forever because they were called to Heaven, not earth. Likewise, when we believers die today we will immediately be in our resurrected bodies and dwell in heaven. We don’t go to Sheol anymore when we die. Sheol was defeated. Death was defeated when Jesus returned, just as he promised.

2 years ago

It seems to me that Paul does make an extremely tight case for a bodily resurrection of believers. In addition to the points that you have made, Jesus is also referred to as “the first fruits” or on other words the first of the larger group. It is hard to conceive of anything other than a resurrection identical to Christ’s.
However, how would you prove that such a physical resurrection did not take place in the first century? Because after all there was a resurrection of many saints that took place after Christ’s resurrection (Matthew 27:52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.) Looking forward to the response. Good article!

Reply to  Henry
8 months ago

Matt 27: 52 is spurious and was added later, so It cannot be used

kevin quillen
kevin quillen
2 years ago

The type of resurrection question is easily answered.
Hymeneus and Philetus were teaching that the resurrection was already past. This “overthrew” the faith of many.
Question……if the resurrection is/was physical, how could anyone’s faith be overthrown? All one needs to do is head for the local cemetery and look. Graves still intact? No resurrection yet. Simple. No faith overthrown.

But…….if the resurrection was a spiritual event, it would not be seen literally. In this case, folks could be misled.

Notice that Paul only corrected the timing and not the nature of the event.

Thus proving that the resurrection was a spiritual event.
And, yes, I meant WAS.

john Napier
Reply to  kevin quillen
7 months ago

Matt 27: 52 is spurious and was added later, so It cannot be used. Paul refuted any resurrection had occurred saying: These men have deviated from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already occurred, and they are subverting the faith of some. 2 Tim 2:18 2 Timothy was written around 64-65 AD this so called Resurrection occurred in 33AD. This is enough proof to show this teaching is subverting faith.

Daniel Morais
Daniel Morais
1 year ago

Your argument is too overreaching based off 1 Cor 15 alone. Paul’s audience denied the resurrection as a whole. Paul was just saying Jesus was raised so there must be a resurrection, that is all you can logically get out of this text. The same argument could be said as follows: “How is it that some of you say there is no resurrection when Lazarus and the Shulimite son were raised?” Now we can see based on your logic the resurrection must be just like that of Lazarus’, who later died. Is that true? Not at all! All these resurrections are miracles pointing to the resurrection itself. How do we know? Because the Bible teaches that the resurrection body is not what you assume: (See my earlier comment)

Daniel Morais
Daniel Morais
Reply to  Jason L Bradfield
1 year ago

Jason, I strongly believe your article is misleading the public into a view of the resurrection that is incorrect. The post I made earlier is about the nature of the resurrection which I suspect you deleted more because of the power of the content presented and its ability to explain all the resurrection prophecies in the Bible without substantial problems (as is not the case in the typical perceptive found in futurist circles of an eternal incorruptible earthly body). But your audience will never see this post. And I believe understand why you would not want them to see it.

I do not think Paul’s audience denied Jesus’ resurrection, but rather they denied the resurrection of everyone else. Paul’s audience were Jews, Greeks and Hellenized Jews most or many of whom prior to becoming Christian did not believe in a general resurrection for themselves or others.

To suggest that 1 Cor 15 suggests that because Jesus was raised that his resurrection must be a perfect model of our own is not sound logically. The same argument could be said as follows: “How is it that some of you say there is no resurrection when Lazarus and the Shulimite son were raised?” Now we can see based on your logic the resurrection must be just like that of Lazarus’ who presumably later died. To say that because Jesus was raised it does not follow that his resurrection was to be exactly how the general resurrection was to be for everyone as you state in your article as proof of the error of preterism. Jesus’ resurrection could just be an attesting miracle. After all there were many attesting miracles of the resurrection throughout the Bible. If you are a sophisticated reader of the Bible you may already see that most of Jesus’ miracles were symbols of the resurrection. AND Jesus literally raised people from the dead during his ministry as did Elijah and others before Jesus. Is this the kind of resurrection we are to expect?

Daniel Morais
Daniel Morais
Reply to  Jason L Bradfield
1 year ago

Which of Jesus’ bodies are you referring to that was raised? Jesus’ body prior to His ascension or Jesus’ body after Christ ascended. It is intellectually dishonest to censor my response when I directly addressed this point before as it DIRECTLY addresses the post here and your response above. I will restate my case with more brevity. Before I quoted the verses directly and so you could truly see how powerful this notion is and how Biblically sound. Now it is up to you and your audience to look up these verses yourselves.

According to Acts 9:3-6 and Revelation 1:13-16 Jesus’ resurrection body was further glorified after His ascension into heaven such that it took on a form like that of the other beings of heaven—beaming with intense radiance. The fact that Jesus transformed into a being of light after His ascension is a significant challenge to the traditional understanding of the resurrection of the dead. If Jesus’ resurrection is an exact model of the resurrection of the saints, then Jesus, of course, would be expected to retain that same earthly body forever. And yet He did not. After Jesus ascended into heaven He no longer appeared as a flesh and blood human being (Acts 9:3-6 and Revelation 1:13-16). Instead, once Jesus entered heaven He is thereafter described as a being of light like that ALL OTHER BEINGS OF HEAVEN–God and the angels (Ezekiel 1:26-28, 2 Kings 6:17, Daniel 10:6, Matthew 28:2-3, 2 Corinthians 11:14, Hebrews 1:7). The fact that Jesus did not retain the same body He had immediately after His resurrection strongly implies that Jesus’ resurrection was not an exact model of the resurrection at the last trumpet but rather just a sign of the coming resurrection no different from the resurrection of Lazarus (John 11:1–44) or the resurrection of others in the Bible before Jesus (2 Kings 4:8-37; 13:21).
Conversely, the fact that Jesus transformed into a being of light after His ascension into heaven vindicates the notion of a resurrection of heavenly bodies consistent with fulfilled eschatology. The resurrection bodies of the saints are expected to experience a similar transformation into a similarly luminescent form according to Daniel 12:2-3,1 Corinthians 15:49,Matthew 13:43,Philippians 2:14-15. Thus Jesus’ resurrection which culminated in His receiving a luminous, glorified heavenly body after His ascension into heaven in Acts 1:9-11 was itself the truly a perfect model of the resurrection bodies of the saints AFTER they also enter heaven at the end of the age.

Last edited 1 year ago by Daniel Morais
Daniel Morais
Daniel Morais
Reply to  Jason L Bradfield
1 year ago

Please think on this deleted comment above. I think you are now one small step closer to the truth of fulfillment if you ruminate on this and let it sink in..

Last edited 1 year ago by Daniel Morais
9 months ago

Awesome refutal of everything that Full Preterism stands for! Thanks. We could add that Paul distinguishes between the “spiritual” body and the
soulish” body in 1 Corinthians 15:39-40. If Jesus had a “spiritual” body of flesh and bone, so will we.

Donald Sulllivan
Donald Sulllivan
8 months ago

I have to be honest. While I’m fine with a futurist view, even if you are right, your heart, responses, attitude, and demeanor with which you seem to carry yourself make you wrong in heart. I’m all for apologetics, and love defending truth, but when your defense of truth becomes rudeness, I would remind you to give 1 Peter 3:15 a read.

8 months ago

Do you believe the end of the age took place in AD 70? (Matt 24:3,34)

john Napier
7 months ago

Hyper preterits believe that a spiritual resurrection occurred at Matt 27: 52. But this verse is spurious and was added later, so It cannot be used. Paul refuted any resurrection had occurred saying: These men have deviated from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already occurred, and they are subverting the faith of some. 2 Tim 2:18. 2 Timothy was written around 64-65 AD, but this so called spiritual Resurrection occurred in 33 AD. This is enough proof to show not only that Matt 27:52 should not be there, but that this teaching is false they have deviated from the faith, also subverting the faith of others as Paul warned.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x