Amillennialism and the Age to Come—A Critical Review # 12

by | Jul 5, 2017 | Book Reviews, Eschatology

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11

Waymeyer’s Treatment of Matthew 25

At this point in these blog posts, we turn from what are mainly hermeneutical criticisms of Waymeyer to an examination of his treatment of various passages which together form the bedrock of the Amillennial position.  On pages 115-124, Waymeyer labors to provide an acceptable Premillennial interpretation of the judgment passage found in Matthew 25:31-46.  We think that he fails.  The scope of this response does not allow a point by point discussion of Waymeyer’s treatment of Matthew 25, but the following is one example of why his Premillennial interpretation cannot stand.

On the face of it this passage certainly appears to support the Amillennial position by teaching a general judgment.  The scope of this judgment is universal: “all the nations.”  Cf. Matthew 25:31. The result of this judgment is eternal: “eternal punishment … eternal life.”  Cf. Matthew 25:46. The timing of this judgment is Christ’s Second Coming: “when the Son of Man comes in His glory.”  Cf. Matthew 25:31.   A general judgment composed of three conceptual pillars eliminates the possibility of Premillennialism.  No eschatological room is left for the kind of interim, millennial kingdom defended by Waymeyer.  After the Second Coming there are no natural men left to populate, procreate in, or deviate from the ways of God in a Premillennial millennium.

Waymeyer’s attempts to provide such natural men strain credibility.  Several of his assertions fall into this category.  Here is an example.  He says. “… premillennialists generally believe that Matthew 25:31-46 describes not the final judgment of all mankind, but rather the judgment of the nations which exist when Jesus returns, specifically concerning either their entrance into the millennial kingdom or their consignment to eternal fire.” (116)  In this assertion Waymeyer manages to combine several ideas which strain exegetical credibility.

(1)      He manages directly to contradict the clear assertion that the results of this judgment are eternal punishment for the wicked and eternal life for the righteous.  This contrast (as the orthodox have pointed out ad infinitum against annihilationists and universalists) requires that the eternal punishment be parallel to the eternal life.  The Premillennial argument here advocated by Waymeyer undoes that clear parallel by substituting entering a millennial kingdom for entering eternal life.  How is this entering a temporary millennium parallel to eternal punishment?

(2)     The interpretation of “the nations” as (only) the living nations which exist when Christ returns (and not all mankind) forgets that Jesus does not say “the nations,” but “all the nations.”  It, then, contradicts the meaning of “all the nations” in Matthew and the parallel passages. While “the nations” in Matthew refers to the Gentiles, “all the nations” has a universal scope.  “All the nations” is used in only two other passages in Matthew.  One of them in the very context of Matthew 25:32, the Olivet Discourse.  In Matthew 24:14 and in Matthew 28:19 it is used to refer to the universal scope of the gospel proclamation in the last days.  Since we know that this gospel proclamation (the Great Commission) is first made to the Jewish nation and then to all the nations of the world (Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8), “all the nations” cannot be restricted to the Gentiles.  Furthermore, it cannot be given the nationalistic connotation favored by Premillennialists.  Clearly, “all the nations” are composed of individuals who either believe the gospel and are saved or refuse it and are lost.  This judgment does not concern whole nations entering the millennial kingdom or not, but individuals entering eternal life or not!

(3)     Here is another serious difficulty, then, for the Premillennial attempt to limit the scope of this judgment “the nations that exist when Jesus returns” (and thus living nations).  It is that the language of Matthew 25:32 suggests that the judgment here described must include all those who have heard the universal, gospel proclamation. This surely will and must include some who have died by the time of Christ’s return.  It also requires the dubious notion that some wicked men will survive Christ’s return in fire to destroy the adversaries.  This, in light of the clear descriptions of the destruction resulting from Christ’s return, is highly questionable.  Cf. Matthew 13:40-43; 24:31-50; 1 Thessalonians 5:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10.  But even more insurmountable for the Premillennial interpretation is the fact that it has to ignore and even defy (what seems to me to be) the clear fact that Matthew 25:31f. is the final stanza in a song of judgment that runs throughout the teaching of Matthew’s Gospel.  Previous verses in that song may be found in Matthew 7:21-23; 11:20-24; 12:41-42; 13:40-43; and 16:27. Premillennialists are forced to say that the judgment repeatedly described in these passages (which clearly included individuals who have died) is not the judgment of Matthew 25:31-46.  Their interpretation of Matthew 25 is, thus, not contextual.

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