O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

Your Opinion: the Rich Young Ruler, Preterism, and Salvation

I will start with the story of the rich young ruler, directly from scripture, and then I want to ask your opinions about how this story fits into preterism and salvation:

Mark 10:17-31

17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’”20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him,loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

23 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” 24 And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is[a] to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him,[b] “Then who can be saved?” 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” 28 Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

OK. Let's notice a few things.

  • This ruler was RIGHTEOUS in the law. Yet he still had to ask how to inherit eternal life. Apparently he comprehended that there was an afterlife, but within the law, he did not know how to achieve it.
  • Jesus acknowledged that the ruler was righteous, but He made a demand of the ruler that was NOT in the law. This caused the ruler to have internal turmoil. After all, the law was actually a covenant of prosperity between God and man. God said that if you obey certain laws, then God was bound to bless you. The ruler must have understood this very well, because he was indeed rich. The demand Jesus made was to sell his blessings. In other words, Jesus told the ruler to renounce the law's benefits, and embrace another paradigm, one that the ruler could not do. Apparently, Jesus knew that this man's desire was for treasure, because Jesus even promised future treasure instead of earthly treasure
  • The ruler lacked foresight, or faith, in things he could not see. The ruler wanted his cake and to eat it too. He wanted all the earth's wealth, but he also wanted future treasure. 
  • Jesus tacitly acknowledged that His way was harder to follow than the way of the Law. He said "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom." What does this mean? Jews of that day were convinced that they had a lock on eternal life through the law, but Jesus said the law could not provide that.
  • The disciples equated kingdom entrance with salvation. They asked "Who then can be saved" Jesu equated eternal life with kingdom life. Therefore, logically, eternal life, being in the kingdom, and salvation were the same things. 
  • Jesus stated that man's ideas do not produce salvation, and that with man there is no possibility of salvation, and only God can save.
  • Paradoxically, Jesus said that IF one follows Him, such a man will receive IN THIS LIFE, a hundredfold more blessings than he would have in the law. And yet, its pretty clear that Jesus was talking about spiritual blessings, not physical ones. As far as I know, there is no promise of  "health and wealth" in the true gospel message. So Jesus was talking about something spiritual, and He also promised persecution.
  • Jesus spoke of another future age, and in that "age" there would be eternal life.
  • Finally, Jesus cryptically said "the first shall be last, and the last first"

Putting all those things together, I would like to ask your informed opinions about some paradoxes.

  1. If the first shall be last, and the last first, do you think this is some kind of allusion to a future salvational period for Israel? Or even, do you think there can be some kind of future resurrection of those like the rich young ruler who obeyed the letter of the law as they understood it, yet did not believe in Jesus in their lifetimes? If so, do you think such a period would have a time when the gospel would be preached to them and eternal life offered to them at that time?
  2. If you believe in this possibility, when could it happen? After all, if you are a preterist, then you believe Jesus' second coming has already occurred and that ushered in the kingdom. If the kingdom has arrived, then what of the dead righteous ones (righteous within the law) who did not receive Jesus, even though they were God's chosen people through Moses? To paraphrase Paul "Has God cast away His people"?

Let's see where this goes. Lots of paradigms are going to be shaken I think in this discussion.

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Hello Doug, this should be a good discussion. . of interest to many, I'm sure.

First I'd like to say that I call this rich man who was a ruler of the synagogue

a very good Jew, and especially compared to the other leaders that Jesus had encounters with. He acknowledge Jesus as a teacher of truths, he followed the law correctly etc.

But he was lacking and Jesus made a point of saying that people who trust in their riches hardly have a chance of being saved into eternal life. Even the disciples were astonished at this news and asked how could anyone come into eternal life. They must have thought well of this Jew also.

That question is in both accounts and was an important point of this encounter. Because Jesus answered and said what was impossible with man, was possible with God.

The law shut out faith to most of the Jews as Paul said.

Galatians 3:23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.

But when the new covenant came into effect, and faith abounded, then any man with any amount of money could be called and saved into God's Kingdom.

Paul was one of those, and he was a leader of the Jews also. It isn't money that stops anyone from entering into God's Kingdom, it's the trusting in money, and the love of money that will stop them. But this leader, if he heard the gospel declared by one of the disciples, and answered the call, he may well have given much of what he had, to help those who had need, as the church was being persecuted. He just needed to hear the call and receive the spirit of God, with whom nothing is impossible.

Jesus knew this was coming to all who would answer the call to atonement and repentance. I'm sure there have always been rich Christians, but as long as they are not trusting in their riches, and give to needs, God's grace covers them too. The big trouble with having great money is that you have many opportunities and options to choose from, which makes it too easy to act without consulting God's will, and that is what trusting in money is.

As for the first being last and the last being first, Jesus made that statement four times and under differing circumstances. Do you think it might have something to do with this scripture?

Luke 7:28 For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.

Or this one?

Mark 9:35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.


This language will be best understood by considering the parabolical fact to which it has reference. Matthew xx. 1—16.

Labourers are hired successively, for the same wages of a penny,* by the man who is an householder, at the first, third, sixth, ninth, and eleventh hours; and are sent by him to work in his vineyard. When evening or the twelfth hour arrives, and payment of their services is made, not only are the same wages given to all, but the order of payment reverses exactly the order of being hired: Matt. xx. 8: for those who were hired at the eleventh hour are paid first; those at the ninth hour, next; and so on, to those who were hired early in the morning, who receive their wages last. Ibid. 10. This, putting the other incidents of the parable out of view, is the grand fact to which our attention is invited in the words which I have placed at the head of the present section; the last shall be first, and the first last.

Probably, indeed very probably, the calling of the Gentiles into the visible and fleshly church, after the resurrection of Christ, and at the eleventh or last hour of that church's existence; and the giving to those Gentiles, at the evening or close of the Old Testament dispensation, the same New Testament privileges which were vouchsafed to Abraham's descendants, who had been subjected to the yoke and requirements of Moses's law, and had thereby borne the burden and heat of the day; constitute its scope and import. In which view I am confirmed, by adverting to the other axiom, by which the one already quoted is followed up; viz., many are called but few chosen: an axiom applicable to the gospel call as addressed by the apostles to the whole Jewish nation, and yet rendered effectual only to the elect portion of it.* But whatever may be in this, the principle laid down is a general one; and, as such, is expressed in the most general and unqualified terms: so the last shall be first, and the first last.


In the order of nature, Cain was first and Abel second; in the order of grace or spirit, Abel as having been preferred to Cain stood first, and Cain was thrown into the back-ground. Gen. iv. 4, 5; Heb. xi. 4.

Ishmael was Isaac's senior, and consequently superior, according to the flesh; Gen. xvi. 4, 15; but Isaac took the precedence of Ishmael according to the spirit. Ibid. xvii. 18—21. For, whatever supremacy the children of the bondwoman may possess in a fleshly point of view, matters are always and necessarily reversed when spiritual and heavenly blessings are to be conferred. Then the son of the bondwoman is shown to be the inferior, by being cast out, and by not being suffered to inherit with the son of the freewoman. Gen. xxi. 10; Gal. iv. 30.

Need I be particular in dwelling on the cases of Esau and Jacob; Gen. xxv. 22—26; of Joseph and his elder brethren; Ibid. xxxvii. 5—11; xlii. 6; and of David, who was the youngest of the sons of Jesse; 1 Sam. xvi. 6—13; in all of which the same general principle is enforced? The elder in every one of them is made to serve the younger. Rom. ix. 12. Or God, reversing the natural order of things, in every instance confers superiority upon him who is by birth inferior.

With other facts, illustrative and corroborative of the same important truth, that God's thoughts stand opposed to man's thoughts and God's acts to man's acts, the scriptures abound. The materials for evincing this are so copious, that the great difficulty which I experience is in making a selection.

We are informed in the book of Judges, that the Israelites having revolted against the Midianites, and under the guidance of Gideon having prepared to engage in conflict with them, on the eve of the expected battle the Midianites, and the Amalekites, and all the children of the East, lay along in the valley, like grasshoppers for multitude; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the sea-side for multitude. Judges vii. 12. A very large army was of course naturally required to cope with them. God, however, after having reduced Gideon's band of followers to three hundred men, was pleased himself to accomplish the discomfiture of the mighty host of their adversaries, without, properly speaking, any adequate intervention on the part of the Israelites at all. Ibid. 19— 22. Spiritually, the many were defeated by the few. God, in this affair, reversed the natural connexion of causes and effects, means and ends, altogether.

Naturally and properly, murder and treason rank among the most atrocious of crimes. But God having enjoined upon Abraham the slaying of his own and only son, the patriarch, without the slightest hesitation, prepared to plunge the knife into the bosom of his child; Gen. xxii. 10, compared with Rom. iv. 20; and Rahab the harlot, actually in opposition to all the duties prescribed by allegiance to her sovereign, received Joshua's spies, kindly entertained them, and sent them away in peace. Josh. ii. 1—22. For such good works, observe,— that is, not for works which men consider good, or which men under ordinary circumstances either can or should approve of, but for works which, although diametrically opposed to those enjoined by human morality, were nevertheless commanded by God and performed in faith and obedience to his authority,— are Abraham and Rahab the objects of express divine commendation. James ii. 21—25. Gen. xxii. 11, 12, 16 —18. Joshua vi. 22—25. In this injunction and approbation on the part of God, of what stands revoltingly opposed to every correct notion of mere human morality, are we not furnished with a most striking example of divine inversion ?*

Among men, the great, the noble, and the talented are naturally and properly elevated to situations of honour, trust, and emolument. Jesus conferred the rank of apostleship, — a rank higher than any earthly dignity,—on fishermen, tax-gatherers, and others belonging to the inferior and illiterate classes of the community. Matt. ix. 9; x. 2—4: compare with 1 Cor. i. 25 — 29.

Men must approve of the righteous and respectable members of society, and must assign to them the highest place in their esteem. Jesus came not, however, to call the righteous, but sinners.\ Matt. ix. 13. He declared to his self-righteous but respectable auditory, that publicans and harlots should go into the kingdom of heaven before them. Matt. xxi. 31. And publicans and sinners were permitted by him, to the great scandal of the Pharisees, to sit down at meat with him and his disciples. Ibid. ix. 10,11.




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