A Statement on
Unorthodox Eschatology

Acts 1:9–11 and the Hyper-Preterism Debate

Much of the exegetical attention in the ongoing debate over hyper-preterism has centered on biblical texts such as Matthew 24–25 (The Olivet Discourse) and the Book of Revelation. However, much less attention has been given to the text of Acts 1:9–11. This is somewhat surprising because traditionally Acts 1:11 has been understood to be a clear and unambiguous promise of the personal, visible, and bodily Second Coming of Jesus Christ to earth. The text is significant to the current debate because in order to assert that the Second Advent occurred in the first century, most hyper-preterists have insisted that the event was either invisible (occurring in the spiritual realm) or visible only to those Christians with the spiritual perception to see. Acts 1:9–11, however, seems to describe something more — namely, a bodily ascension from earth and the promise of a corresponding bodily return to earth.

Read more below from Dr. Keith A. Mathison (2004):

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Todd C.
1 year ago

Great piece, Keith. I’ll make sure to share it.

Look, there is simply no way to accurately handle the Word of truth (2 Tim 2:15) and arrive at a conclusion that Jesus Christ will not physically return in the clouds, just as he physically ascended in the clouds (Acts 1:9-11). Equally, one cannot arrive at the conclusion that the resurrection has already taken place, as some who have gone astray from the truth are saying (2 Tim 2:15-18). Was it not the Sadducees that denied the resurrection from the dead?

There are many passages of Scripture that make clear the physical return of Jesus Christ and the physical resurrection of our bodies, but one passage of Scripture breaks it down in a timeline (although a timeline with no specifics as to dates), and that is 1 Corinthians 15, specifically verses 20-28. Jesus Christ being raised from the dead is the first fruits of the harvest – the resurrection. Being raised from the dead, Jesus ascended to heaven and is seated (in His glorified physical body) on the throne of God with all power, authority, and dominion, reigning UNTIL all His enemies (every authority, power, rule, and dominion) are literally – during this age – put beneath His feet, being rendered powerless and ineffective against Him. Then, when Jesus returns, He defeats the last enemy – physical death, and raises us (those who are Christ’s) from the dead – the rest of the harvest (of course other Scriptures reveal this to include the unjust who are raised to eternal damnation). At that time, the Kingdom of the Son is culminated and He turns the Kingdom over to the Father. And it is impossible to argue that this resurrection is not the physical body, since Paul makes sure to cover that in detail in verses 35-49, calling those who question the physical resurrection of the body “Fools”.

Okay, said my piece. Such a dangerous heresy that hyper-preterism introduces as doctrine, one of many that we must defend the faith against these days.

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