PMW 2018-014 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
A reader recently wrote to me, asking the following question:
“I would like to know if the Greek word mellousan in Romans 8:18 would indicate that “the glory that will be revealed to us” would be “about to happen” in the early church days, as preterism in its entirety teaches.”
This was a good question so I thought it deserving of an answer. Especially since it is the type of lexical error that is often made by Hyper-preterists. Here is my brief response. I hope it is helpful.
The word mello is a broad term that has a variety of meanings. For instance, The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (1:325) defines mello as meaning: “to be about to, to be on the point of, be destined to, intend, propose, have in mind.” In the participle form (as in Rom. 8:18) it is “used in the sense of to come, future” (p. 326). Clearly these definitions cover a variety of meanings. However, the term generally speaks of something that is future, whether near or far.
But there is more. On p. 326 of NIDNTT we read that “mello means, must, to have to, be certain to, in the context of events which happen according to the will and decree of God and which are thus necessary, certain and inevitable.” Thus, one under-girding significance of the term that often appears is that of certainty, inevitability.
Have We Missed the Second Coming:
A Critique of the Hyper-preterist Error
by Ken Gentry
This book offers a brief introduction, summary, and critique of Hyper-preterism. Don’t let your church and Christian friends be blindfolded to this new error. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.
For more Christian educational materials: www.KennethGentry.com
Though mello can in certain circumstances mean “about to” (i.e., near in time), its context will determine its meaning in the communication act, rather than leaving us with a one-dimensional dictionary meaning. And here in Rom. 8 the context is quite clear. Paul is comparing and contrasting the “sufferings” of the “present time” as paling in comparison to “the glory that is to be [mello] revealed [apokalupto] to us.” The suffering is that which came through the fall of Adam: suffering, death, futility, and groaning (Rom. 8:20, 22). Paul has been dealing with the consequences of the fall for some time (cf., Romp. 5:12ff).
It is true that we already have the “first fruits of the Spirit” in us (v. 23a). But even we continue to “groan” as we wait for “the redemption of our body” (v. 23b). Christians suffer and die, just as do unbelievers. But the unbeliever has no future glory toward which to look in hope (vv. 24–25). Thus, this mello expresses a futurity which will certainly come to pass at the resurrection of the body, a key element in the Christian faith (1 Cor. 15).
When Shall These Things Be?
(ed. by Keith Mathison)
A reformed response to the aberrant HyperPreterist theolgy.
Gentry’s chapter critiques HyperPreterism from an historical and creedal perspective.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
In Gal. 3:23 this same language is used for those who lived in the Old Testament under Mosaic ritual law: “But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed.” Thus, all during that time the Old Testament saints were “shut up to the faith which was later [mello] to be revealed [apokalupto].” That period lasted from the days of Moses in 1450 BC until the coming of Christ in the first century, i.e., about fifteen centuries.
Thus, mello does not mean “near” in either Rom. 8:18 or Gal. 3:23.