Nero antichrist?

Calvin on 2 Thess. 2:3, “It was no better than an old wife’s fable that was contrived respecting Nero, that he was carried up from the world, destined to return again to harass the Church by his tyranny; and yet the minds of the ancients were so bewitched, that they imagined that Nero would be Antichrist. Paul, however, does not speak of one individual, but of a kingdom, that was to be taken possession of by Satan, that he might set up a seat of abomination in the midst of God’s temple–which we see accomplished in Popery.”

Gill on 2 Thess. 2:3, “yet the man of sin is here distinguished from Satan, 2Ti_2:9 nor is any particular emperor of Rome intended, as Caius Caligula, or Nero, for though these were monsters of iniquity, and set up themselves as gods, yet they sat not in the temple of God”

Polemics against the idea that Nero was antichrist:
Francis Turretin’s 7th Disputation
18 Sermons on 2 Thessalonians
The Papacy is the Antichrist
Westminster and London Baptist Confessions

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20 thoughts on “Nero antichrist?

  1. Good resources on this subject! I appreciate it! This is somewhat surprising in the literal nature of the understanding of how the prophecies related to antichrist would be fulfilled that comes through in these citations. This is especially so considering the common reactions against such literal understandings in modern Reformed circles. If I am not mistaken, these sources might be useful in responding to the rise of preterism in our day.

  2. Myself, I like W.E. Vine here and his simple but nice Expository Dictionary of New Testament Greek Words … Some think he is too simple, but I usually don’t find this to be the case! This is a must have tool to my mind!

    Antichrist –

    ‘Antichristos, can mean either against Christ or instead of Christ, or perhaps, combining the two, “one who, assuming the guise of Christ, opposes Christ” (Westcott). The word is found only in John’s Epistles, (a) of the many antichrists who are forerunners of the Antichrist himself, 1 John 2: 18, 22 ; 2 John 7 (b) of the evil power which already operates anticipatively of the Antichrist, 1 John 4: 3.’

    What the Apostle says of him so closely resembles what he says of the first beast in Rev. 13, and what the Apostle Paul says of the Man of Sin in 2 Thess. 2, that the same person seems to be in view in all these passages, rather than the second beast in Rev. 13, the false prophet ; for the latter supports the former in all his Antichristian assumptions.

    Note: The term “pseudochristos”, a false Christ, is to be distinguished from the above ; it is found in Matt. 24: 24 and Mark 13: 22. The false Christ does not deny the existence of Christ, he trades upon the expectation of His appearance, affirming that he is the Christ. The Antichrist denies the existence of the true God (Trench, Syn &, xxx).

      • I would point you too to Progressive Dispensationalism… Darrell Bock and Craig Blaising book (PD). See too, Robert Saucy’s book: The Case For Progressive Dispensationalism, The Interface Between Dispensational & Non-Dispensational Theology. This books, with a few years of teaching myself in Israel in the late 90’s have moved me to the PD! (Not to mention earlier my part in Gulf War 1, as a Royal Marine). Were right at the edge of the “Eschaton”! Now we are seeing the great Gentile Apostasy!

      • Thanks Robert, with respect, I don’t see how borrow from covenant theology (which is what Progressive Dispey’s do) will save Dispensationalism. It has a bad foundation to begin with.

      • Note, I have been A-Mill and even Post-Mill in my long past, but the great truth of God’s Salvation History and Covenant/covenants are always first literally “Israel’s”, (Rom. 11: 25-29 ; 15: 8)…Historical Pre-Mill. (See Irenaeus, as the rest of the Ante-Nicene Christian Chiliasts…Papias, Justin, Tertullian, etc.)

        And its the only “foundation”! Post-Mill is dead, and A-Mill is also going away fast too. In not too long, true “biblical” Christians, will see that National Israel is the centre of God’s eschatological truth. Living and teaching in Israel in the late 90’s was a great providence for me, and yes, I am a “Biblical” Zionist! πŸ™‚

      • Post-Mill is dead, and A-Mill is also going away fast too.

        In my experience both Amil and Postmil are gaining ground specifically Amil due to the popular works of Riddlebarger and the popularization of Calvinism. In fact, a friend of mine who is attending seminary said the staff is split betweem Premil and Amil, this is at a traditionally Premil school.

        To characterize PD as borrowing from CT β€œto save DT” is both unwarranted and unfair, again IMHO.A fair reading of Bock, Blaising, Saucy, Carl Hoch (β€œAll Things New”), etc. should help to understand why I am pointing to the influence of Biblical Theology.

        I was using hyperbole in saying that PD is borrowing from CT but the move toward CT is evident. You claim it is due to biblical theology and I would agree, covenant theology is biblical and if PD continues with biblical theology they’ll end up CT….IMO of course.

  3. As a PD I would humbly suggest that:

    1. Pink moved from Dispensationalism and ended up with isolationism so I am not impressed by the direction he went.

    2. To characterize PD as borrowing from CT “to save DT” is both unwarranted and unfair, again IMHO. I would suggest that the influence of Biblical theology had much more to do with it, especially as both DT and CT proponents worked together in the DT Study Group at the ETS meetings beginning in the 1980s. There is a very real “gray area” between the extreme polarities of traditional DT and traditional CT that is growing, and should not be lightly dismissed or ignored. The latest influence in this area is being referred to as “Progressive Covenantalism” in Wellum and Gentry’s “Kingdom Through Covenant”. I would add this work to those recommended by irishanglican above. A fair reading of Bock, Blaising, Saucy, Carl Hoch (“All Things New”), etc. should help to understand why I am pointing to the influence of Biblical Theology.

    FYI: irishanglican and I have more in common since I am both Vietnam vet (1971), and an Operation Iraqi Freedom vet (2005-2006, Ramadi). πŸ™‚

    Soli Deo Gloria,

    John T. “Jack” Jeffery
    Pastor, Wayside Gospel Chapel
    Greentown, PA

  4. And btw, this is a biblical hermeneutical issue, and I am convinced myself of National and Literal Israel as the Covenant head, and people of Salvation History, note 1 Cor. 10: 32, we Gentile Christians come into their blessings, (Rom. 11 ; 15: 8, etc.) But now is the time of Gentile Apostasy, surely!

  5. Some helpful quotes on the subject:

    Quote, “Progressive Dispensationalism is perhaps a misnomer, since it probably has much more in common with Covenant Theology than Classic Dispensationalism, with a few notable differences.

    Progressive dispensationalism has departed from one of the historical distinctives of normative dispensationalism, that of the offer, rejection, postponement, and exclusively future fulfillment of the Davidic kingdom. It has also failed to include a related distinctive, the church’s separateness from the Davidic kingdom. Dispensationalists from the successive periods of history have repeatedly emphasized these distinctives, an emphasis that nondispensational critics have also noted. Progressive dispensationalism, on the other hand, has not advocated these distinctives, raising the question of whether that movement deserves the label “dispensational” or whether it belongs more in the category of nondispensational historical premillennialism.” – Stephen J. Nichols

    “Progressive dispensationalism is clearly not your father’s dispensationalism (nor your favorite televangelists).

    Radical changes distinguishing it from its antiquated forbears include:

    (1) A rejection of simplistic literalism in hermeneutics. Progressive dispensationalists pretty much adopt a genuine grammatical-historical-theological theory of interpretation like the rest of the evangelical world.

    (2) A revision of the Israel-Church distinction, allowing that Israel and the Church are two phases of the one people of God. Classic dispensationalism argued for a radical distinction between Israel and the Church that would even continue into eternity; revised dispensationalism maintained that distinction only in terms of the earthly outworking of redemption.

    (3) A breaking down of the walls of separation between the dispensations. Their dispensations are not discrete, unmixed time frames, but rather evolving stages of historical development. Contained within any particular dispensation are the seeds of the next dispensation so that the dispensations gradually progress (hence the name). This allows that Christ is now enthroned as king in anticipation of his coming earthly-millennial rule.

    Numerous additional issues could be highlighted. But these three are sufficient to establish a radical (and welcome) transformation within dispensationalism.” – Ken Gentry

  6. And just so you good men don’t think me mad! I found another fella who believes PD is moving toward covenant theology:

    Drift toward Covenant Theology

    The hermeneutical doors that PD has opened make very possible the eventual shift to covenant theology. As a covenant theologian, Vern Poythress is appreciative of the moves PD’s have been making. But he also says, “However, their position is inherently unstable. I do not think that they will find it possible in the long run to create a safe haven theologically between classical dispensationalism and covenantal premillennialism. The forces that their own observations have set in motion will most likely lead to covenantal premillennialism after the pattern of George Ladd.” Walter A. Elwell: “the newer dispensationalism looks so much like nondispensationalist premillennialism that one struggles to see any real difference” Commenting on the one people of God concept of PD, Bruce Waltke states, “That position is closer to covenant theology than to dispensationalism”. http://mb-soft.com/believe/txh/progdisp.htm

    • Indeed, my so-called PD will always (as Robert Saucy) include some form of almost classic Dispensationalism, and I press this thru the reality of national and literal Israel… “The term “Israel” occurs sixty-eight times in the New Testament, predominantly in the writing of Matthew, Luke, and Paul. Apart from a few disputed references, which we will discuss later, all the instances refer to the “national” covenant people of the Old Testament.” (The Case For Progressive Dispensationalism, etc., page 194 (see too the footnotes there). So if I must, I will perhaps stand somewhat closer to Charles Ryrie? See his book: Dispensationalism, Revised and Expanded. But I am most certainly Post-trib.

      • For me the issue, whether I am right or wrong, is to honor the Word of God! And Christ is Coming, quite literally & visibly, again to the Nation of Israel, (Zech. 14 / Rev. 1: 7…Acts 1: 11-12 / Matt. 23: 39).

        ‘Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.’ (Rev. 22: 20)

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