By Bill Reeves
One of Max Kings “big guns” is Rom. 4:13. “According to Paul, a promise was given to Abraham that he and his seed would inherit a world.” A-33 . . . he did not look for inheritance in the Jewish world, but rather the Christian world . . . This truth is manifest in Heb. 11:8-16.” A-34 “This city he looked for, which hath foundations was the – heavenly Jerusalem – Heb. 12:22. or the Jerusalem which is above (Gal. 4:26). This is the new heaven and earth promised to Abraham and his seed, of which the Jewish world (old heaven and earth) was a forerunner. The New Testament saints, born of Abrahams spiritual seed, looked for this new world (2 Pet. 3:13), in anticipation of the time Ishmael would be cast out, or the old heaven and earth would pass away. The time was drawing near when the Hebrew letter was written. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away. (Heb. 8:13).” A35
To this King adds Matt. 5:17,18, making Jesus say that the “heaven and earth” of that passage refers to the passing away of Judaism in A. D. 70, at which time “all things would be accomplished.” Also, the “heaven and earth” of Matt. 24:35 apply to the “Jewish world” (as he calls it for convenience sake oh, how he plays with words!) to pass away in A. D. 70. He sees the word “world” in Rom. 4:13, and so he gets “earth” out of Matt. Ch. 5 and Ch. 24, “land,” “country,” and “city” out of Heb. 11 and 12, and “world” out of Eph. 3:21 (KJV!), and runs them all together into his fanciful theory. Lets analyze these texts.
(1) Rom. 4:13. The Greek word here for “world” is kosmos. We do not read in Genesis of a promise stated in this style, but the context of Rom. 4 makes it clear that the reference is to his becoming the father of many nations in a spiritual sense. See especially vv. 16-18. See Gal. 3:29. The faith of the gospel is for all the world (Phil. 1:27; Mk. 16:15). Abraham, then, inherited the world as his spiritual children, for in his seed (Christ) all the world can be blessed, and the church is made up of all nations. Paul did not say that Abraham would inherit “a world.” Thats Kings lingo. Abraham inherited the world as Jesus inherited the nations (Ps. 2: 8; Heb. 1: 2). Abraham was made a father of many nations in that he was the father of the faithful, of those with faith in Christ. They were spiritual progenitors. Thats why Gal. 3:29 is so!
(2) Matt. 5:17,18. There is no “world” (kosmos) in this text. Jesus did not say that heaven and earth (Greek, GE) would pass away when all things were accomplished. King sees the word “earth,” which is somewhat suggestive of “world,” and away he runs with it! What does a context matter to him? Jesus is saying that his purpose in coming to the earth was not to destroy the law or the prophets, but to fulfill them. Furthermore, he says, until that is accomplished it would be easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one jot or one title of the law or prophets to fall. See Lk. 16: 17. Or, to put it another way, as long as heaven and earth stood, that law would be fulfilled without the least particle of it going unfulfilled. He came to fulfill it, and fulfill it he would, and heaven and earth would not pass away first! If the law was not fulfilled till A.D. 70, Christians were under it until then, and Paul says, “no” (Rom. 6:14).
(3) Matt. 24:35, Here Jesus speaks, not, as King does, of a “world” (kosmos), but of the same earth (GE) as in 5:18. The physical heaven and earth are temporary; they shall pass away (Kings spiritualizing to the contrary. He says that he does not know “what the destiny of this physical world is that were living in”), but Christs declarations are not temporary, but are absolute of fulfillment, irrespective of time and temporal things. That is Christs point, but King plays with the word “earth,” and equates it with his “world” of Rom. 4:13.
(4) Matt. 5:5 is also cited by King and referred to his “Christian world” of A. D. 70. He says, “The residence of Gods people today is in the new earth promised, which is just as spiritual as everything that belongs in it. Of this earth and this inheritance, Jesus spake in Matt. 5:5…” A-26 Jesus is speaking of no such invention! The 37th Psalm (vv. 9, 11, 22, 29, 34) shows that the expression “inherit the earth” means to benefit from its physical blessings. The beatitudes refer to a specific class of people and to what benefits they have because they are that class of people.
(5) Heb. 11:8-16. The Hebrew writer was no “A.D. 70 Advocate.” He tells us to follow Abraham in seeking for a “city” (residence) which is heavenly. (King wishes it said: “spiritual!”). Here (on this earth and in this life) we do not have an “abiding city,” or
permanent residence. We seek after the one that is to come. (Heb. 13:14). It is in the “Fathers house,” in. 14: 2. King equates the word “city” (of Heb. 11:10, 16) with “heavenly Jerusalem,” which is his perfect state of things as of A. D. 70. King is the only authority for that! The Hebrew writer is contrasting a heavenly country with the earthly one in which Abraham, Isaac and Jacob lived as strangers and sojourners. One was on earth; the other in heaven. Thats where Peter says that the eternal inheritance is reserved “in heaven” (I Pet. 1:4).
(6) Heb. 12:22. “The tense of the verb are come shows that he was speaking of things that were transpiring at the time he wrote the Hebrew letter.” “But ye are come … present tense! And we have the new world today.” Brother King needs to check the Greek text; it is not present tense, but what is even worse for him the perfect tense! They had already arrived at that “city” (the heavenly Jerusalem) at the time the Hebrew writer wrote! “Are come” is not present tense; if present tense, it would read “are coming,” and that is precisely what King advocates: that something was presently coming and would arrive in A. D. 70! The Hebrew writer used the perfect tense, as he did in v. 18, and tells the Hebrews that they had already arrived and were there. The perfect tense in the Greek emphasizes action in the past with present consequences. The Hebrew Christians did not pertain to the Old Covenant, but they did (already) to the New! Thats the point of the inspired writer. King plays with words and makes “are come” are coming, and hopes we will not see the difference. Paul made the brethren come to the “city,” and King makes the “city” come (just a little later on) to the Hebrew brethren. Berrys Interlinear, as does the NASV, reads: “you have come,” which is the clearest way to express the perfect tense in English.
Heb. 12:22 is present perfect tense, and, by contrast, in. 14:3; 2 Tim. 4:18; and 2 Pet. 1: 11 are future. How King would like for the four texts to all be in the same tense!
(7) Gal. 4:26. The Jerusalem of this passage, as that of Heb. 12:22, are the same and refer to the New Covenant. Of course Christians had arrived, having arrived at the New Covenant of Christ. Of course perfection was there found (Heb. 10: 13). Thats where they pertained. To go back to the Old Covenant would have been apostasy and perdition. Thats the inspired writers point. But King would like for Gal. 4:26 and Heb. 12:22 to say “new heavens and new earth,” which phrase applies to the redeemed as viewed in heaven and in eternity, but not upon this earth. The New Testament views the saved as the kingdom of heaven now, on earth, and pertaining to the heavenly Jerusalem, and it also views the saved throughout eternity as the heavenly or eternal kingdom. King rejects this N.T. concept completely!
(8) 2 Pet. 3:13. Future tense, Brother King! The Hebrew Christians were already arrived at the heavenly Jerusalem City, but were looking forward to “new heavens and a new earth.”
(9) Heb. 8:13. King says: “He nailed it to the cross to this extent: that he came to fulfill it and when he died upon the cross he did that and then Heb. 8:13; it took some forty years before the whole thing was completed.” “The New Testament saints, born of Abrahams spiritual seed, looked for this new world (2 Pet. 3: 13), in anticipation of the time Ishmael would be cast out, or the old heaven and earth would pass away. The time was drawing near when the Hebrew letter was written. (Heb. 8:13).” A-35 King cites Ps. 102:25-28, and says, ” Yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment: does not this figure of speech sound familiar? See again Heb. 8:13; Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away. Could Paul and David be talking about the same event? The author believes so.” A-41 (Heb. 8:13). The words ready to vanish away are very significant in this passage, showing that the old dispensation continued several years after the cross. Its final end came with the fall of Jerusalem … and this event marked the passing of heaven and earth.” A-184, 185 “This natural body, receiving its death blow at the cross and beginning then to wax old and decay (Heb. 8:13), became a nursery or seed-body for the germination, growth, and development of the spiritual body by means of the gospel. Thus, out of the decay of Judaism arose the spiritual body of Christianity, that became fully developed or resurrected by the end-time. Hence, this is the primary meaning of Pauls statement, It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body and there is a spiritual body. ” A-200
The word “decayeth” (KJV of Heb. 8:13) is imperative to Kings argument. He cannot use Berry here, or the ASV or NASV. They do not say “decay,” and his fanciful theory needs a putrifying body for a period of time. But there is no decaying process of a dead body anywhere in the Greek word of this text, or in the context. Notice the Greek text here: to de palaioumenon kai geraskon. Berry gives this literal word-for-word translation: “But that which grows old and aged.” The ASV says: “But that which is becoming old and waxeth aged.” The NASV reads: “But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old.” Palaioumenon, according to Thayers Greek Lexicon, means, “to declare a thing to be old and so about to be abrogated,” and the second Greek word under consideration, geraskon, means, “to fail from age, be obsolescent.” The Hebrew writer does not say that the Old Covenant was becoming obsolete and growing old, but that whatever (neuter) is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear! Thats his point; such is true of anything like that. It is a statement of general application. Thats why the neuter is used: “that which,” or “whatever.” And, theres no decaying in the word!
Now, notice Ps. 102:25-27. There is no direct reference at all in Heb. 8: 13 to this passage. There is a similar phrase there, and King jumps on it to make a play on words! The phrase “wax old” in Ps. 102:26, in the Septuagint (Greek version of the O.T.), is from the first of the two words noted above, meaning become old, or grow old. No “decaying” in Psa. 102 nor in Heb. 8! Even the KJV, in Psa. 102, does not say “decay” for the same word which appears in Heb. 8:13.
The Hebrew writer indicates that God considered the Old Covenant as obsolete in Jeremiahs time! When did God say that He would make a new covenant? Back in Jeremiahs time! What did God do to the first covenant when He said that? He made it old. What about anything old and obsolete? It is near to disappearing. This is what Heb. 8:13 is talking about! “When God announced a new covenant he proclaimed the insufficiency of the old, and the promise of a new covenant carried with it the promise of the abrogation of the old.” (Vincent Is Word Studies in the N. T., p. 1135).
The Hebrew brethren would be foolish to abandon the New Covenant for one done away! The Jews for six centuries knew, from Jer. 31: 3 ff, that the Old Covenant was in the aging process, and therefore would be abrogated in time. King gives the Law a “decaying” process six centuries too late! -Rt. 3
TRUTH MAGAZINE XVII: 11, pp. 9-11
January 18, 1973