In Gary DeMar’s book “10 Popular Prophecy Myths Exposed”, I have found that every chapter is progressively more grievous, and chapter 8 is the most offensive yet! DeMar is very intelligent and his arguments are slick, but terribly wrong.
The chapter is entitled ‘The Myth that the Gospel Has Yet to be Preached in the “Whole World”’, and begins with the following statement from John Lightfoot’s “Commentary on the Gospels from the Talmud and Hebraica”;
“Was not the gospel brought unto and published amongst the ten tribes as well as amongst the Jews when the apostle wrote this Epistle? The determination of this matter seems to conduce something towards the explaining of this chapter [Rom. 11], seeing throughout the whole chapter there is no mention of the Jews singly, but of Israel. The gospel was to be preached to the whole world before the destruction of Jerusalem [which took place in A.D. 70], Matt. xxiv. 14: and was it not to the ten tribes as well as the nations? It makes for the affirmative, that St. James directs his Epistle…, to those ten tribes, as well as the other two. ”
While James does indeed direct his epistle to the twelve tribes who are scattered abroad, this in itself does not mean that every member of those tribes had access to this letter. Indeed, we are finding more and more information about the whereabouts of those tribes even today. Some of them ended up in India, Burma, and China. Others ended up in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and yet others found themselves in places like South Africa.
DeMar’s premise is that Israel heard the gospel, rejected it, and that was the last chance for them as a nation. This contradicts some of his statements in the earlier chapters, and presupposes that God is not loving toward Israel, and that He leaves it all up to them. If He did that, none of us would be saved!
As a reformed theologian, one would think that when God says “All Israel shall be saved” that God is able to save all Israel. Once again, as he does continually throughout the book, however, DeMar simply says that “all” doesn’t mean all, and “whole world” does not really mean the whole world, but only a portion of it, really just the Roman empire.
He does have a point, that sometimes the New Testament epistles do use the phrase “the whole world” to indicate only a portion of it, this does not mean that God does not have the freedom to use the other meaning when the need arises!
5Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, 26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: Romans 16:25-26
I am just a bible believer. I do not have some advanced degree from some highfalutin bible college somewhere. So how can a regular Christian understand these passages, and do they mean that the gospel did indeed go into all the world during the life of the Apostles?
First of all, it is clear from the context of the passages that “the whole world” here does not mean anything more than the Roman Empire. In this DeMar is correct.
The problem with DeMar’s book here is that he is, once again, ignoring the principle that Scripture must interpret Scripture. There are numerous Old Testament passages that indicate that Armageddon will involve the whole world, not merely the ancient Roman empire. One of the most striking is found in Jeremiah 25. In fact, I would say that Jeremiah 25 puts the lie to DeMar’s argument;
15 For thus saith the LORD God of Israel unto me; Take the wine cup of this fury at my hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send thee, to drink it. 16 And they shall drink, and be moved, and be mad, because of the sword that I will send among them. 17 Then took I the cup at the LORD’S hand, and made all the nations to drink, unto whom the LORD had sent me: 18 To wit, Jerusalem, and the cities of Judah, and the kings thereof, and the princes thereof, to make them a desolation, an astonishment, an hissing, and a curse; as it is this day; 19 Pharaoh king of Egypt, and his servants, and his princes, and all his people; 20 And all the mingled people, and all the kings of the land of Uz, and all the kings of the land of the Philistines, and Ashkelon, and Azzah, and Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod, 21 Edom, and Moab, and the children of Ammon, 22 And all the kings of Tyrus, and all the kings of Zidon, and the kings of the isles which are beyond the sea, 23 Dedan, and Tema, and Buz, and all that are in the utmost corners, 24 And all the kings of Arabia, and all the kings of the mingled people that dwell in the desert, 25 And all the kings of Zimri, and all the kings of Elam, and all the kings of the Medes, 26 And all the kings of the north, far and near, one with another, and all the kingdoms of the world, which are upon the face of the earth: and the king of Sheshach shall drink after them.
So, in verse 15 The Lord sends Jeremiah to all the nations. Then in verse 17, Jeremiah says that he did indeed go to all the nations to whom the Lord sent him, and he follows this up with a list of nations that ends with “and all the kingdoms of the world, which are upon the face of the earth”.
Now wait a minute! We know of a certainty that Jeremiah, in his lifetime, never came to North America, South America, Russia (the kings of the north), China, or Australia, so what is going on here? Neither did he personally go to all the Middle Eastern nations listed. How is it possible that his message of wrath went to all the nations which are upon the face of the earth?
Jeremiah was a prophet. He was speaking prophetically. And, though he personally did not go to all the nations listed here, his message went out from him with the intent that it would ultimately make it to all the nations of the whole world. It will! It is spoken of as a fait accompli because it is the Lord who guarantees that those nations will get Jeremiah’s message. It is as sure as if it was written in stone… it cannot be stopped!
It just so happens that Jeremiah 25 is speaking of the same event as Revelation 19, and specifically states that all the nations of the world will be involved. Notice also, that the Roman empire did not exist at the time Isaiah wrote. So if Matthew 24:14 is the only place in the New Testament where “the whole world” actually means the whole world, so be it! It has to. There is no other option.
So, did the gospel go into the whole world during the life of the Apostles? Yes it did, in the same sense that Jeremiah’s letter went to all the nations he was told to take it to. It is a continuing process, though viewed prophetically as a fait accompli. It went out into “the whole world”, though it will not make its final destination until the End Times. This phrase is used in the same sense as Jesus being slain from the foundation of the world;
And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Revelation 13:8
He wasn’t literally slain from the foundation of the world, but it was a sure thing that nothing could stop!
In speaking of a prophetic passage, DeMar needs to compare it to other prophetic passages, especially those speaking of the same time-frame, and not to non-prophetic passages as he did here. This is a fundamental error on his part.
On pages 120-121 Demar lists several objections to the idea that the gospel didn’t go to the ends of the earth during the life of the Apostles, the first three of which we have already dealt with, but I want to take a look at point number 4 for a moment;
4. “The end” that Jesus refers to in Matthew 24:14 is the same end described in 24:3 and 6—the “end of the age”: the end of the old covenant and the inauguration of the new (1 Cor. 10:11; Heb. 1:1–2). That first-century generation was living at the time of “the consummation of the ages” that “has been manifested” (Heb. 9:26). Peter and James confirm this when they wrote that “the end of all things is at hand” (1 Peter 4:7) and that “the coming of the Lord is at hand” (James 5:8). The use of “end” is not a reference to the end of everything but of the end of a specific period of time in redemptive history.
DeMar’s first statement here is absurd, when you think about it. The end of the age of Israel occurred when Jesus ascended into Heaven, and the inauguration of the Church age began ten days later at Pentecost. DeMar and the Preterists are arguing that the end of that age occurred some forty years later when the Roman armies sacked Jerusalem. To them the cross, the resurrection, and the Lord’s ascension are of minor importance in relation to the destruction of Jerusalem!
These people are ignoring the fact that the bible was written during the early years of the Church age, and was intended for people of the entire Church age, not just for the early Church. While Jesus and His disciples were speaking during the age of Israel, the subject they were speaking of was actually the end of the Church age, an age which was to begin in only a few days time… days, not years! Don’t forget we are discussing Jesus’ reference to “this generation” from Matthew 24. This was His last major dissertation before the cross, which occurred in less than a week.
While all the other references to “this generation” in the gospels may be referring to the generation alive at the time He spoke, this one is a reference to the people who are alive during the events He was speaking of, the End Times. What He is actually saying is that the generation of Israelites who make the final return to Israel, after the Psalm 83 and the Ezekiel 38-39 wars. The whole thing will occur while that generation is still alive on the earth.
I am aware that what I am saying is somewhat different than what most Dispensationalists teach, but they are correct that the generation He was referring to was not the generation alive at that time. They are at least closer to the truth than Preterists and Amillennialists.
DeMar then quotes a bunch of expositors who were all infected by Augustine’s philosophy, as if having a bunch of apostates with him gives his views more weight!
The fact is that the entire church was futuristic in its eschatology, until Augustine came up with Amillennialism. His focus on this life and this world, were the driving forces behind his invention of Amillennialism. This philosophy is NOT based on a faith in the return of Christ, nor in the promises of God, but rather it lifts up the “Church” and man, and makes Christ dependent on us!
On page 135 DeMar makes a statement that really sums up his attitude toward Jesus’ discussion in Matthew 24;
“Notice also that Jesus tells His disciples that the things outlined in Matthew 24 will happen to them. Jesus makes this point by His continual use of the second person plural “you”:
• “And you will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars” (24:6).
• “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation” (24:9).
• [And they] will kill you” (24:9).
• “And you will be hated by all nations on account of My name” (24:9).
• “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation … standing in the holy place” (24:15).
Sandwiched between 24:6, 9 and 24:15 is “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world [oikoumenē] for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come” (24:14). If, as Ice correctly notes, “the deciding factor is the context,” then as the above passages demonstrate, the context is decidedly pre-A.D. 70, the generation to whom Jesus was speaking. ” (10 Popular Prophecy Myths Exposed , Gary Demar, page 135)
Demar is so very selective in his quotes. Jesus uses the word “ye” in verse 44 which has exactly the same meaning as “you” in the above passages;
Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. Matthew 24:44
Is Jesus saying that the very disciples who were sitting and listening to Him at that moment would think He would not return? Was He saying that He would return within their lifetimes and they themselves would not be ready? Or, was He saying that “you, the person reading this book, may not be ready when I return”?
The second person plural “you”, or “ye”, can indeed include all people who read the bible, at any time during the Church age.
The latter possibility is the only one that makes any sense. The disciples dearly loved Jesus and were looking for His return throughout the rest of their lives. He has not returned yet, contrary to assertions by Preterists and Jehovah’s Witnesses, but will do so at a future time when those claiming to be His followers will THINK that He WILL NOT RETURN! They will think so, because they think someone else is on the earth in the Spirit of Christ… The Antichrist!
DeMar has a tendency to over-contextualize the bible, as if the authors themselves were behind the Word of God, and one could only understand what they have written by viewing the Scriptures through the eyes of a first century person. He consistently understates and diminishes the role of the Holy Spirit in Scripture interpretation.
He speaks of Hermeneutics as if you will reach the truth by applying a set of rules to the Scriptures. Well, if you apply a set of rules developed by a heretic like Augustine, you will end up with Augustine’s interpretation. This does not mean, however, that you have the Holy Spirit’s interpretation, and the truth, but only that you look at the world through Augustine coloured glasses!
Scripture itself tells us;
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. I Corinthians 2:14
DeMar takes up a lot of space, explaining that the Greek word oikoumenē, translated as “world”, in Matthew 24 actually means the whole Roman empire. While it can mean that, he also admits that it can mean “all the people of the entire globe”, but goes to great pains to prove that this is not the meaning intended in Matthew 24. His arguments are slick, but he does fail to prove that this is the only possible meaning, or the only one the Lord intended. Just because the Lord meant one thing many other times does not prove that He has no freedom to chose a different meaning in another context.
He quotes Revelation 12:9, where oikoumenē is used to mean the “whole world”;
“Satan is said to be one “who deceives the whole world” (12:9). Once again, Revelation describes those things which must “shortly take place” (1:1) “for the time is near” (1:3). The world (oikoumenē) that is being deceived is the one to which the seven churches are written (2–3). Certainly the devil deceives more than this area, but the point of Revelation is to describe what’s about to happen to within a shortened time frame. ”
What he is doing here is reading into the text that which he has already determined to be the case. Once again DeMar is doing exactly what he accuses Dispensationalists of doing. This is called “eisegesis”, making Scripture conform to your ideas, but what Christians are called to do is exegesis, reading what is there, and modifying our understanding to conform to the Word of God.
When it says Satan deceives the whole world, it is clear that this means the whole world, even parts yet to be discovered by “civilized” man.
DeMar spends a lot of time in this chapter accusing Dispensationalists of Scriptural eisegesis, and yet this is exactly what he himself is doing! His views are exactly playing into the warning given by the Lord Himself in Matthew 24:44! Those following DeMar’s teachings will one day find themselves supporting the Antichrist!
If you think the book of Revelation is past history, as DeMar does, you will not be watching when the real Antichrist shows up!