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

This is a short study pinpointing the ending date of Daniel's 70-week prophecy and the God-sanctioned transfer of the gospel focus toward the Gentiles that followed this 490 years.  This topic has been covered on other posts, but I would like to come at it from a relatively new angle that I haven't encountered elsewhere yet.

It involves a close look at Paul's words in I Timothy 1:15-16 from the Interlinear.  "Faithful is the word, and of all acceptation worthy, that Christ Jesus came into the world sinners to save, of whom the first am I.  (v.16)   But for this reason I was shown mercy, that in me, the first, might shew forth Jesus Christ the whole longsuffering for a delineation of (or a pattern to) those being about to believe on Him to life eternal."  

All my life, this quote of Paul's claiming to be the "chief of sinners" was taught with a twisted interpretation. Paul was depicted as beating his chest in self-condemnation here, claiming the title of The Worst Sinner Ever Born because of his zealous persecution of the early church.   The only problem is that this isn't the lesson we are to get from these verses.  

The Greek word used here is "protos", meaning the first, or foremost in time or place.  The reason "protos" should not be understood to mean "the worst" sinner of all time is because Paul pairs this idea of being first along with his being a pattern or an example for the sinners who were potentially about to believe on Christ following Paul's conversion.  He was the leader of the group about to arise who would mimic his experience.  The "sinners" noted in I Tim. 1:15 are meant to indicate the Gentile class, which Paul also refers to in I Timothy 2:7.  In this verse, Paul claims his ordination as the herald (going before), apostle, and teacher of these Gentile nations.  "Sinners" was a label used at times as a synonym for the Gentiles.  As Galatians 2:15 puts it, "...we who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles..."  

Paul calls himself "the first" of these sinners who was saved.  Was Paul a Gentile by race?  Of course not.  Or does this mean that there were no Gentiles saved before Paul came on the scene?  Also, of course not.  What God intended was for Paul to act as a highly visible example to lead off this New Covenant era following the 490 covenant with ethnic Israel - a pattern for Gentile redemptions from then on.  Paul would provide a living picture of God taking individuals alienated from birth who had a history of vehemently opposing Him, and then converting them into His most faithful followers.  Because Paul's persecution against the faith of Christ was so notorious to start with, his conversion became even more of an obvious, dramatic contrast.  This is why Paul claims God's mercy had been given to him - in order to set him up as this pattern for those who were about to believe from among the Gentile nations by his ministry to them.  This "about to" period is referring to the time following the close of the 490 year prophecy - after Israel's "fall" described by Paul in Romans 11:11.  This fall, by the way, is not the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD under discussion.  Paul speaks of this fall as already having occurred as he addresses the readers of Romans.  

Some would argue that Paul equally devoted his time to both Jews and Gentiles throughout his ministry.  For a time, yes, this was God's purpose for him.  We have God's words to a fearful Ananias before he went to baptize Paul.  "But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel." (Acts 9:15)  Multi-focus ministry here to start with.

Almost immediately following, we see Paul in the synagogues of Damascus reasoning with the Jews.  He stays in Arabia/Damascus for 3 years until so much animosity from the Jews builds against him, that they want to kill him.  At this point, Paul finally travels to Jerusalem, (Acts 22:17-21), where he receives a vision in the temple.  This is where Paul's commission from God changes and turns from the Jews in order to center it's focus on the Gentiles in 37 AD.  "And He said unto me (Paul), Depart, for I will send thee far hence to the Gentiles."  Single-focus ministry as of this point.

It's not that Paul never speaks of the gospel to his fellow Jews ever again.  That's not the idea.  What we see is God's agenda being set up.  The last part of Daniel's covenantal 70th week offered to national Israelites passed away here with Paul's vision.  On the calendar, it has been about 3 years since Paul's baptism. Incidentally, this is almost a duplicate of the way Christ's ministry was set up.  First, Christ's baptism in 26-27 AD.  Then, an approximate 3-year novitiate period before the start of His public, miraculous ministry in Cana around 30 AD.  It's similar to the gap between an election and an inaugueration, at which time the intended purpose of the candidate's office begins to function.  An anointing was not the equivalent of a coronation for the Old Testament kings.  Neither is a baptism equal to the start of someone's ministry - even Christ's baptism.  Paul's ultimate ministry purpose was to be the apostle to the "uncircumcision", just as Peter was to concentrate on those of the circumcision.  (Galatians 2:7-9, Ephesians 3:8, and Romans 11:13) 

(If I could make a comparison here, the regulations in I Timothy 3:6 for selecting a bishop include the stipulation that he not be a novice.   It would seem that both Christ and Paul's approximate 3-year novitiate terms would serve as a precedent for this proving period before a pastor was qualified to serve.)  

There have been debates aplenty where scholars have insisted that there is absolutely no way to mathematically line up all the prophetic time markers in Daniel's prophecy of the 70 weeks in one unbroken span.  Whether you agree with him or not, Ussher's "Annals of the World" laid out a seamless solution for this a long time ago.  What I have just presented concerning Paul as the "first" sinner dovetails perfectly with Ussher's research concerning this 70 weeks.  It's 454 BC that is the starting date for the decree to rebuild and restore Jerusalem.  (It's NOT 457 BC - check Ussher's records regarding the proof of 474 BC being the actual first year of Artaxerxes I reign.  The twentieth year of his reign would then arrive at the 454 BC date for the decree mentioned in Daniel 9:25 that starts this 70 weeks.  From there, everything lines up.  The confusion arises from not including within this twenty years the nine-year period when Artaxerxes I served as viceroy along with his father Xerxes before his death.  Their reigns overlapped by this much.)  454 BC is the date for the second rebuilding decree by Artaxerxes I in Nehemiah 2.  The 70 weeks extends from this date up to Paul's vision in the temple in 37 AD for the culmination of the prophecy.  Jesus is "cut off" in the middle of the last "week" at Passover, 33 AD.  Christ gave the Jewish nation one last covenant "week" to repent and accept Him, from the time his ministry launched in 30 AD until 37 AD.  

No gaps, no stretching, no problems.

Views: 145

Comment by Internet_Troll on September 22, 2014 at 9:32am

Patricia you wrote:

Christ gave the Jewish nation one last covenant "week" to repent and accept Him, from the time his ministry launched in 30 AD until 37 AD.  

No gaps, no stretching, no problems.

Now there is a question I raised before about the 70 weeks and would really want to hear your thoughts. So here again from Eohn's thread 490 Year Countdown:

Let me try explain the link between the 70 weeks, Isai 27 and Rom 11.

The 70 weeks talk about a time when there will be atonement for Israel's sin and the confirmation of a covenant, concepts which are related to salvation. In the same passage it talks about the destruction of the temple.

Isai 27 talks about atonement and the removal of Israel's sin.

Rom 11 talks about the salvation of Israel, a covenant and the removal of sin, all concepts which we have seen in the 70 weeks. Further, Rom 11 links these issues with the prophecy of Isa 27 which we know is a prophecy about the 70 judgment.

So it appears these verses are speaking of the same thing and the time of fulfillment of these things is AD70.

My question is this: if the 70 weeks end with Stephen [or Paul], how do we understand/harmonise Rom 11 which seems to link the issues of the 70 weeks to the AD70 judgment?

Comment by Patricia Watkins on September 22, 2014 at 3:07pm


Thanks for taking the time to review this post.  It looks like the quote "atoned for" in the version (ESV?) you are using for Isaiah 27:9 is sending your thoughts in a direction that includes a redemptive salvation for Jacob in this passage.  The KJV terms used in this verse for "atoned for" is "purging Jacob's iniquity" and "taking away his sin".  Purging involves destroying something iniquitous.  Taking away or removing something sinful by purging it, in this context, simply means getting rid of Israel's idols which in Isaiah 27:9 would mean that God intended to burn up their temple and it's alter, since Jacob (or ethnic Israel) would turn it into nothing more than a sinful, idolatrous image that would supplant the true temple (Christ) in God's eyes. 

When God says "Vengeance is mine, I will repay", this "purging" in Isaiah 27:9 would have God "repaying those who hate Him to their face" (Deut. 7:10), when He destroys the idolatrous temple and it's alter in their midst.  There is a prevailing emphasis in this whole surrounding Isaiah 27 context of a prophesied crushing underfoot of the scornful (Isaiah 28:14).  Yet, even in the middle of all these dire predictions, God mentions that in that day of judgment, He will be a "crown of glory and a diadem of beauty to the remnant of His people" (Isaiah 28:5), at the very same time He is "threshing" Israel (Isaiah 27:12).  "One by one", He says, He will glean His own "remnant" from among their nation.  In the midst of judgment He remembers mercy.

This is the same remnant I believe you and I have posted about before in connection with the 144 thousand of ethnic Israel's people in Rev. 14:1-4.  Remember, they sing a song that no one else can learn except them.  In other words, their experience and their identity is definitely unique.  I believe their unique status is that they represent the idealized remnant number of ethnic Israelites who come to faith in Christ in the time following 37 AD when, nationally, the 70-week covenant period had expired for their fellow countrymen.  

Romans 9:27-29 speaks of this same believing "remnant/seed" of ethnic Israel.  They appear after ethnic Israel is "broken off" (Romans 11:19-22) or "cut off" (post 70-week prophecy).  These are past tense phrases, speaking of something already done to them as Paul is writing this to the Romans.  Remember, Paul in Romans 11:14 wanted to make his fellow Jews jealous by his ministry to the Gentiles so that "by any means he might save some of them" (a remnant of ethnic Israel).  This is the same "remnant according to the election of grace" that God has reserved for Himself out of the nation of Israel (Romans 11:5).  Again, in Romans 11:28, this is the same "election" group taken out of the already-cut-off nation of Israel - "beloved for the fathers' sakes" (faithful Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), even though the rest of ethnic Israel were "enemies" of the gospel.

One of the common complaints against preterism is that everything discussed has a 70 AD label slapped on it.  Here is an opportunity to say, nooooo, not everything is circa 70 AD - other dates figure into these prophetic passages as well, even though the 70 AD date comprises the bulk of them.

Don't know if this is helpful, JIR, but I hope it at least shows clearly where I'm coming from.

Comment by davo on September 22, 2014 at 5:49pm

This is why it is more helpful to view AD30 – AD70 as the ‘bookends’ of God’s redemptive purposes on Israel’s behalf… “the elect” were not an end in themselves but indeed were called in place to sanctify the whole [Rom 11:16].

Comment by Internet_Troll on September 23, 2014 at 1:58am

Patricia, what you said is helpful although you did not meet the heart of the question, which is the link between the 3 verses I raised.

Given Davo's response, which I now tend to agree with, I do not believe AD30-AD70 should be separated the way we normally do. I think is some mystical way these are one event.

From your post, observe:

He will be a "crown of glory and a diadem of beauty to the remnant of His people" (Isaiah 28:5), at the very same time He is "threshing" Israel (Isaiah 27:12). [emphasis supplied]

I could go on to point the same thing in relation to Rom 11 etc, but it seems clear to me that what in one verse is said to happen "at the same time" in actual history occurred over a period of time.

How was everlasting righteousness brought in during Paul's ministry any more than with Christ's passion? How could there be everlasting righteousness while 2 Pet 3 says that they were looking forward to a heaven and earth where righteousness dwells or Gal 5:5 where we are told they were still hoping for righteousness etc etc.

At least that is how Im thinking about these issues for now.

Comment by Internet_Troll on September 23, 2014 at 6:22am

IOW, it seems to me we should stop having a stumbling block about when exactly the weeks ended (37 AD or 70 AD) but understand it as "the cross-parousia event" (singular).

Of course some of the dates can be pin pointed better than the ending, but...

Comment by Eohn Rhodes on September 23, 2014 at 7:18am


You bring up great questions that provoke me to more orderliness. Specifically, you asked, "How was everlasting righteousness brought in during Paul's ministry any more than with Christ's passion?"

Christ's passion was to obey God and release his bride from slavery to the "old man" under law, as portrayed by the law man (soldier) who pierced His side to release the bride while he was in a 'deep sleep' as last Adam, reversing the curse of the law. The law of course did not kill Christ. He was raised up under law. The law kills us. Christ was already covenantally dead under his own volition before the soldier stabbed Him. The law man portrayed the release of the widow because Christ annulled the first covenant with Adam via His unlawful death.

There are without a doubt different phases of a process occurring between AD 30 - 70. Post resurrection Jesus instructed his disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit then enabled Christ's righteousness in His people during Paul's ministry, prior to the AD 70 marriage. Stephan was proof of success in the new way. He was continually full of the Holy Spirit.

Galatians 5 is all about continuing in the Spirit in order to put on more of the righteousness of Christ. The big danger and temptation was to try to return to pre-passion mode; to the still nagging covenant that Christ got them out of.  

Jesus moved His everlasting righteousness to a new creation so He could share it with others. Even becoming Christian today, can be viewed as a one time event,  yet we know it also happens over time.


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