progressive dispensationalism is the interpretation of the Davidic Covenant. Some progressive dispensationalists believe the Davidic Covenant is partially fulfilled by Christ's being seated in heaven at the right hand of the Father. Other progressives hold that Christ's being seated on David's throne is exclusively reserved for the Millennium, (as do traditional dispensationalists). The urgency of resolving this issue should not be underestimated. The issue itself is not central to the overall PD theological system. There is room for disagreement on this point within the PD camp without doing damage to the whole system. However, the partial fulfillment concept held by Blaising and Bock has become the "whipping boy" for traditional dispensationalists who seek to paint progressive dispensationalism as unorthodox, and
Progressive dispensationalism is solidly pre-millennial. But the perceived similarity of a partially fulfilled Davidic Covenant to the a-mill view (which sees the Davidic Covenant as completely fulfilled with Christ's present reign from heaven) lends itself to emotional charges that are really rooted in fear. Yes, those attacking progressive dispensationalism are afraid that support for the pre-trib rapture is being seriously erroded by progressive dispensationalism. This fear may be well founded! But, the reactionary smear campaign, painting progressives as leaning toward a-millennialism, is absolutely false. Progressive dispensationalism is totally incompatible with a- millennialism. Progressives are firmly devoted to a historical-grammatical (literal) method of interpretation that makes the a-mill view completely unacceptable.
The purpose of this article is to show that Jesus is not yet seated on the Davidic throne. This is reserved for the Millennium.
6 For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.7 Of the increase of His
government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will
31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring
great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.(KJV)
The covenant God made with King David, that from David's seed a righteous King would sit on the Throne of Israel and reign over Israel forever, was specifically applied to Jesus by Gabriel. The question is, When? In Peter's first sermon in Acts 2, he interpreted the Davidic Covenant in such a way that leads some to conclude it is fulfilled now, by Christ's being seated in heaven at the Father's right hand.
However, that is not exactly what Peter said. When we examine this passage in its historical setting, something entirely different appears. Peter's goal in this sermon was NOT to show that that Old Testament prophecies of Messiah's reigning on David's throne were presently fulfilled. Such an idea would flow counter to the Millennial hopes of the Jews to whom he was preaching, and would invoke an immediate negative reaction. They did not even2
believe at this point that Jesus was any more than an executed criminal. To now imply that He was already reigning in some mystical way in heaven, while the Jews fully expected an earthly reign, would certainly be greeted with scorn.
Rather, Peter intended to establish Jesus' identity as "the Christ" (Messiah - King of Israel) prophesied in the Old Testament whoWILL physically reign over Israel as "King of the Jews." He was preaching to a crowd of Jews from the Diaspora who had come to Jerusalem to worship on the feast days. Most of them were not residents of Jerusalem or Israel. They had traveled to Jerusalem from foreign lands where they lived to attend Passover seven weeks earlier, and had either stayed until Pentecost, or had returned. They had heard about all the commotion surrounding the arrest, trial and crucifixion of Jesus. Some of them may even have joined in with the crowds who cried "away with Him, give us Barabas." Yet, they were not privy to His three years of teachings or witnesses of His miracles, although they no doubt heard the rumors of miraculous healings. They had also apparently heard the rumors of His resurrection, which the Temple leadership were trying to squelch.
Peter began his sermon by appealing to Joel 2, the prophecy of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Israel. He claimed that the miracle of speaking in foreign tongues they had just witnessed was the fulfillment of this prophecy. This no doubt got their attention immediately, because it showed that long awaited prophecy was being fulfilled - God was visiting His ancient people. Next, Peter connected the fulfillmet of this prophecy with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Thereby, showing that Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah, whom the Jews expected would accompany the fulfillment of Joel.
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