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  • Submitted: Aug 18 2017 09:15 AM
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  • Author: Dr. George Gunn
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  • Tab Name: Psalm 110 and Progressive Dispensationalism
  • Suggest New Tag:: Diepensalism, Psalm 110, Progressive Dispensationalism
  • Module Identifier: Psalm 110 and Progressive Dispensationalism - Gunn, George.gbk.twm

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Dispensationalism Bible Interpretation Hermeneutics

Dr. George Gunn

theWord Version:
3.x - 4.x

Tab Name:
Psalm 110 and Progressive Dispensationalism

Suggest New Tag::
Diepensalism, Psalm 110, Progressive Dispensationalism

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Psalm 110 and Progressive Dispensationalism - Gunn, George.gbk.twm

In recent books by Blaising, Bock, and Saucy, it has been claimed that Christ in His present session is seated on the throne of David. This is a position that has previously been denied by dispensationalists, being the exclusive affirmation of amillennialists, postmillennialists and non-dispensational premillennialists. Such a view is a problematic position for dispensationalists, for it assumes a continuity between Israel and the Church they are not willing to make easily. Blaising and Bock contend, writing on the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant, that Jesus' ascension (Ps 110:1) signifies the beginning of His Davidic reign.[1] In support of the statement that, "every NT description of the present throne of Jesus is drawn from Davidic covenant promises," they say

Repeatedly the NT declares that He is enthroned at the right hand of God in fulfillment of the promise given in Ps 110:1. This is a Davidic promise; it is the son of David who fulfills it. In Acts 2:30-36, the resurrection, ascension, and seating of Christ in heaven at the right hand of God (Ps 110:1) are present in light of the prediction 'that God had sworn to him [David] with an oath to seat one of his descendants upon his throne' (Ac 2:30). No other throne is discussed in this text except the Davidic throne.[2]

If Blaising, Bock, and Saucy are correct, then Christ's present headship over the Church is a Davidic rule that fulfills promises made by God to Israel. This is perhaps one of the most drastic departures of Progressive Dispensationalism from what earlier dispensationalists have held.[3] The implications of such a confusion between Israel and the Church are significant and will affect several major areas of theology: Bibliology (Is the OT to be interpreted literally, and are its proclamations perspicuous?), Christology (Is the present session of Christ a Davidic rule?), Ecclesiology (Are Israel and the Church distinct in the unfolding of various dispensations, or do they become merged as "the people of God"?), and Eschatology (Will the Church be raptured before or after the seventieth week of Daniel?).

Key to the insistence that Christ is presently seated on David's throne is the interpretation of Ps 110.[4] Verses 1 and 4 of this Psalm are quoted or alluded to more frequently in the NT than any other portion of the OT. The 2nd edition UBS Greek New Testament's index of quotations lists no fewer than twenty-five quotations or allusions to these two verses, including two by Matthew, three by Luke, one by John, four by Paul, and thirteen by the author of Hebrews. Such a frequency and distribution establish this Psalm as probably the most significant OT text for NT studies. Have Blaising, Bock, and Saucy been accurate in their interpretation? It is our conclusion that both an exegesis of Ps 110 in its OT context and a consideration of the analogy of faith show that Ps 110 does not support a present Davidic reign of Christ.

Bock insists that Peter, in Ac 2:30, consciously substituted the word καθίζω (kathizo) for the LXX's τίθημι (tithemi) (Ps 132:11) in order to establish an exegetical "link" with Ps 110's κάθου (kathou) (cited in Ac 2:34). This, according to Bock, establishes an interpretation for Ps 110 that sees its fulfillment in terms of the Davidic Covenant. He argues as follows:

The crucial linking allusion appears at this point. Peter notes that David was ... the conscious beneficiary of an oath God had made to him that one "of the fruit of his [David's] loins" (KJV) would sit on his throne (Acts 2:30). The key term is καθίσαι (kathisai to sit), which is reintroduced in the citation of Psalm 110 (note κάθου kathou, "sit," in v. 34). The allusion in verse 30 is to Psalm 132:11, a psalm which is strongly Israelitish and national in tone (see vv. 12-18). The psalm in turn is a reflection of the promise made to David in 2 Samuel 7, especially verse 12. This 2 Samuel passage is better known as the Davidic covenant. What is crucial is that David's awareness of this covenant promise is immediately linked to his understanding of the resurrection promise in Psalm 16, which in turn is immediately tied to the resurrection proof text of Psalm 110 (vv. 31-35) . Being seated on David's throne is linked to being seated at God's right hand. In other words, Jesus' resurrection-ascension to God's right hand is put forward by Peter as a fulfillment of the Davidic covenant .... To say that Peter is only interested to argue that Messiah must be raised misses the point of connection in these verses and ignores entirely the allusion to Psalm 132 and the Davidic covenant.[5]

In another publication, where this basic argument is put forth, Bock elucidates upon his understanding of the relevant hermeneutics.
One of the ways Jews showed fulfillment of an OT passage was to cite the language in alluding to a second passage, thus linking the two texts conceptually. So by his use of the verb "to sit" (Acts 2:30,34) Peter links Psalm 132:11 (cited in 2:30) with Psalm 110 (cited in 2:34).[6]

The use of Ps 110 is crucial to the Progressive dispensationalists' argument in support of a present Davidic reign of Christ. We will argue below, however, that Ps 110 is not to be understood as referring to fulfillment of the Davidic covenant at all, but that its fulfillment is primarily to be seen with reference to the seventieth week of Daniel (Dan 2:24ff.).

[1] C. Blaising & D. Bock, Progressive Dispensationalism, 177-78.

[2] Blaising & Bock, 182.

[3] Ryrie identified the distinction between Israel and the Church as one of the three sine qua non of dispensationalism in Dispensationalism Today.

[4] Blaising & Bock, 84, 126, 161, 177-78, 182, 198.

[5] Darrell L. Bock, "The Reign of the Lord Christ" in Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church C.A. Blaising and D. L. Bock, edd. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992) 49. See further a fuller discussion of Bock's "Exegetical Link" later in his paper.

[6] Darrell L. Bock, "Evidence From Acts" in A Case for Premillennialism, D.K. Campbell and J.L. Townsend edd. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992) 194.

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