In a recent study, we discussed
Daniel 12, and Paul’s commentary
on the timing of the resurrection.
The question of inquiry was “What
does Paul say about Daniel 12 and
the time of the resurrection?”
However, we did not begin in Daniel, though it was the guiding text, but
took as our starting point, Romans 13:11–12. Here, we examined eschatology as both an exegetical (relating to hermeneutics and interpretation) and mathematical proposition. Understanding Daniel in the light of Paul’s teaching creates a very challenging mathematical proposition. Let’s note the text to see what we mean.
And do this, knowing the time that now it is high time to awake out of sleep for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.
Paul gives his readers a command, i.e. to cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. In other words, their life and behavior had to reflect the time of day it was.
Awaking Out of Sleep
The contextual analogy is that of one who sleeps in the night, wearing bed clothes, pj’s or a night gown, appropriate for sleep. However, as the day was about to dawn, the time drew near for them to awake out of sleep and get dressed in proper attire to meet the events of the day.
This is both a beautiful and striking analogy of the resurrection imagery of changing one’s clothing or “bodily” covering. See 2 Cor. 5:3–4, on changing from the earthly house/tabernacle to the heavenly house. The entire point there is to so change as not to be found unclothed.
One who changes attire for the day does not get undressed but further dressed to carry out the affairs of the day, be it work or otherwise. Now let’s focus on the time of the text.
The concept of awaking out of sleep as an analogy for the resurrection is taken from Daniel 12:2.
And many who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life and some to everlasting shame and contempt.
Paul’s application of the text for those contemporary in his time, shows that “awaking from the ‘dust of the earth’ is a metaphor and not to be understood as literally rising from the dirt.
Knowing the Time of the Resurrection
Paul’s emphasis on “knowing the time of the resurrection” indicates that he had information that the general time of the occurrence had drawn closer from his perspective.
Observe his use of the words “hour” (hora in the Greek translated by the word time), and “now” meaning at his time then present. In other words, the writing of Romans, approximately 57–58 AD, indicates that Paul knew the time or hour for the resurrection to occur was near.
In other to make that statement, he had to have some chronological time frame of reference, i.e. a beginning point, by which he could measure where he was relative to the end point! Here are two examples:
Let’s say a person has to arrive at work at 7:00 a.m in the morning, so he goes to bed at 10 p.m.. At 5:00 a.m., it is closer to the time to arise for the morning than it was 10:00 p.m. the previous night when one went to bed.
So if one went to bed at 10:00 p.m., that is the start time of sleep. But the next morning at 5:00, it would be high time or the hour to awake from sleep. The night, would then be far spent. The day would be at hand.
In this case, 7:00 a.m., is nearer than when one first went to sleep (10 p.m. the previous night).
That is the manner in which Paul argues for the time of the resurrection and the fulfillment of Daniels’ prophecy.
When the Romans First Believed
Paul, writing to the Romans, cites the time they first believed, —Pentecost, Acts 2:10. The Roman church nucleus was formed the very first day the gospel was preached. That is their starting point.
Christ quoted Daniel, (Matt. 24:15–31), and affirmed that the resurrection would occur when the temple fell by the Roman invasion of Judea. That time was A.D. 70 in the first century. That is the end point.
Now, if we do a simple mathematical calculation, as in the analogy above, it is easy to see why Paul stated that the salvation of the Romans was nearer than when they first believed.
By subtracting AD 30, the beginning point, from AD 58, their “now” point, we get a calculation of 28 years.
Next, we subtract the “now” point AD 58, from the end point, AD 70, and get a calculation of 12 years.
Now, I majored in math in high school. That means I majored in adding, subtracting, division and multiplication, i.e. what I learned in the 3rd grade, each year after that until graduation!
So here’s the point. 12 years from their now point of 58 AD to the end point of 70 AD, is a shorter distance than 28 years, their starting point to 70 AD. This is why Paul said, “for now is our salvation nearer than when we first believed.
But What if The Coming of the Lord Is Yet Future?
If, as Dispensationalists, Amillennialists and other futurists maintain, the coming of the Lord is future, then Paul has written a serious error into the word of God.
Without doing a calculation, it should be obvious that the year 2009 and counting, is a far greater distance from Paul’s now point, 58 AD, than the beginning (AD 30 to AD 58).
If this seems confusing a little, just slow down and read it again. It should make sense.
58 AD to the present is a difference of about 1,951 years. How can 1951 years and counting be closer or nearer, than AD 30 to AD 58? That’s very bad math, and terrible exegesis.