ISBN 0-915815-58-3

“One commentary, an Irish Book of Questions on the Gospels, written about 725, interpreted Christ’s coming in Matthew 24 in light of the Judean war, as a coming in judgment through the Roman armies.”



The Early Church and the End of the World asks this fundamental question: What did the earliest of the early Christian writers actually believe about prophetic events?  We can only answer this question by studying what they wrote.  Unfortunately, we do not have a complete record of the period.    Many of their surviving works are only fragments of larger works no longer available to us.  To make an historical investigation even more difficult, there are translation issues.  Many of the works of those who wrote just before the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and beyond have not been translated into English.

The Early Church and the End of the World seeks to remedy some of these problems.  Thomas Ice, in his book The End Times Controversy, makes some bold claims that cannot be supported when the historical record is actually analyzed.  The early church was not monolithic in its views of Bible prophecy.  There was no unanimous acceptance of premillennialism, a distant futurism, or the peculiar distinctives of dispensationalism.

The Early Church and the End of the World will show that some of the earliest writers commenting on the Olivet Discourse, most likely writing before the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, were referring to the judgment coming of Jesus, an event that the gospel writers tell us was to take place before that first-century generation passed away (Matt. 24:34).  Adding to the confirmation of this view are the writings of the church’s first historian, Eusebius Pampilus of Caesarea (c. 260-341), whose Ecclesiastical History is a window on the first few centuries of the church.

Francis X. Gumerlock has undertaken the task of translating a number of ancient and medieval commentators who have written on Matthew 24 and Revelation.  He shows that many early and medieval Christian writers believed that these prophecies had already been fulfilled before the “end” of Jerusalem, that is, before its destruction by the Romans in A.D. 70 which resulted in the end of the Old Covenant world.

Gumerlock’s chapters fill the gap in historiography by providing English translations of a number of preterist commentaries on prophecies in Matthew 24 by ancient and medieval Bible expositors.  Did other Christians, long before  Martin Luther, John Calvin, or Luis Alcasar, interpret prophecies of Matthew 24 as fulfilled in connection with the A.D. 70 destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans?

Matthew 24:4-14 records Jesus’ prediction of various signs that would take place before the end (24:6,14).  Not believing that these signs applied exclusively to the end of the world, many early and medieval writers believed that they had already appeared historically before the “end” of Jerusalem.  To illustrate their beliefs with regard to the content and timing of these signs of the end, Gumerlock’s chapters provide a chain of comments from different Church Fathers upon the verses that they expounded.

With respect to the generation that would see all these things fulfilled (Matt. 24:34), several sources showed that a preterist interpretation of the passage existed in the early church.  Concerning the “coming” of Christ, mentioned many times in Matthew 24:27-51, most of the Church Fathers referred this coming to His bodily coming at the end of the world.  But patristic and medieval Biblical expositors did allow for it to be interpreted as a non-bodily advent, whether that be His coming to take residence in one’s heart, His coming to receive one’s soul at death, His continuous coming to the Church for strengthening, or a “hidden” coming in judgment.  One commentary, an Irish Book of Questions on the Gospels, written about 725, interpreted Christ’s coming in Matthew 24 in light of the Judean war, as a coming in judgment through the Roman armies.

The Early Church and the End of the World is a needed addition to the discussion on what the earliest of the early church believed on Bible prophecy.



Chapter  1 – Biblical Minimalism and Bible Prophecy

Chapter  2 – The Proof of the Gospel

Chapter  3 – Preterism Among First-Century Writers

Chapter  4 – Premillennialism in the Early Church

Chapter  5 – Sola Scriptura and Bible Prophecy

Chapter  6 – The Olivet Discourse in Ancient and Medieval Christianity

Chapter  7 – The Date of Revelation in the Early Church

Chapter  8 – More External Evidence for an Early Date of Revelation

Chapter  9 – Blood, Fire and Vapor of Smoke: The A.D.70 Destruction of Jerusalem in the Ancient Exegesis of Acts 2:19-27

Chapter 10 – Irenaeus and the Dating of Revelation


“John C. Whitcomb, in his article on “The Millennial Temple,” writes that “five different offerings in Ezekiel (43:13-46:15), four of them with bloodletting, will serve God’s purposes.  These offerings are not voluntary but obligatory; God will ‘accept’ people on the basis of these animal sacrifices (43:27), which make reconciliation [atonement] for the house of Israel (45:17, cf. 45:15).”  This is an impossible interpretation for at least three reasons.  First, these sacrifices are said to be “for atonement” (reconciliation) (Ezek. 45:1517) not, as Whitcomb claims, “as effective vehicles of divine instruction for Israel and the nations during the Millennial Kingdom.”  Second, Jesus is the once for all sacrifice whose blood cleanses us from sin (Heb. 7:26-278:139:11-15;10:5-221 Peter 3:18).  Third, sanctification comes under the new covenant by “the washing of water with the word” (Eph. 5:26) not by the washing of blood from sacrifices.  Those who dispute the completeness of the new covenant promises are looking for the Jews to return to the shadows of the Old Testament that Jesus came to shed redemptive light on.  They want to return to a world that Jesus came to replace.” (xiv)

Gary DeMar grew up in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University (1973) and earned his M.Div. at Reformed Theological Seminary in 1979. He has lived in the Atlanta area since 1979 with his wife Carol. They have two grown sons. Gary and Carol are members of Midway Presbyterian Church (PCA).

A prolific writer, Gary has authored over twenty books covering a full range of topics: The three-volume God and Government series (1982-86), Ruler of the Nations (1987, 2002), The Reduction of Christianity (1988), Surviving College Successfully (1988), Something Greater Is Here (1988), You’ve Heard It Said (1991), America’s Christian History: The Untold Story (1993), War of the Worldviews (1994), Last Days Madness (4th ed., 1999), Is Jesus Coming Soon? (1999), Thinking Straight in a Crooked World (2001), End Times Fiction: A Biblical Consideration of the Left Behind Theology (2001), The Changing Face of Islam in History and Prophecy (2002), and America’s Heritage (2002). He is also the general editor and co-author of A New World in View (1996) and Reformation to Colonization (1997), the first two volumes in the To Pledge Allegiance history textbook series.

Gary has been interviewed by Time magazine, CNNMSNBCFOX, the BBC, and Sean Hannity. He has done numerous radio and television interviews, including the “Bible Answer Man,” hosted by Hank Hanegraaff. Newspaper interviews with Gary have also appeared in the Washington TimesToledo (Ohio) Blade, the Sacramento Bee, the Atlanta Journal/Constitution, and the Chicago Tribune.

American Vision also publishes The Biblical Worldview, a monthly magazine edited by Gary.

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Date: 06 Apr 2009
Time: 11:30:21

Your Comments:

Preterism upends all of scripture, denoting all to mythical mind games, including the glorious second coming of Christ. It is a most heinous doctrine that undermines the faith of believers taking them from hope of the resurrection to a belief much like Jehovah Witnesses who believe that all we see is now on this earth. Where heaven went, I know not, nor the New Jerusalem. All are merely illusions of the mind to the preterist, in my opinion.

Date: 19 Feb 2010
Time: 05:44:26

Your Comments:

i would like to read all his writings–he appears to be a first. class scholar–Only today-2010-2-19 I hear about him. I am retired from Long Island . Amityville- Suffolf Cty–but in China at the moment with my wife Evelyn for howlong who knows????I am reading everyday Evangelical thoughts and writings– I cannot afford to pay for books or CDs– WE live in Guangdong Province–very much like Florida.I want to read all of Gary De mar’s works–How??

In Him
Hublall Sookram

Date: 24 Jan 2011
Time: 21:30:29

Your Comments:

The preterist view is supportable at least to some extent in the bible. I can’t help but feel disappointed in that the full preterist doesn’t believe that physical death will ever be abolished. Although Paul said that our “vile” body would be made like unto his, the Lord’s “glorious” body. Not sure how they reconcile that. Also, in revelation that there’d be no more pain, sorrow or crying. Pretty hard to explain all that away.

Date: 24 May 2013
Time: 18:06:57

Your Comments:

Preterists have it mostly right and futurists have it completely wrong because everyone has overlooked something very important. They mistakenly assume that they know how the Bible was inspired and they build their positions on a false premise. The obvious truth is that Jesus did, in a figurative sense, return and he was also resurrected only in a figurative sense. The stories of his physical resurrection were invented by the apostles for the same kind of justifiable reason that Rahab lied to the authorities and was justified in doing so. We tend to forget that good and evil are judged by a person’s motives and not by their actions in isolation as the Pharisees were prone to do.

People who believe in God, having one of the various conflicting ways of identifying God (concepts of God) and hold to one of the several theories of atonement, often talk about “salvation” and disagree on exactly what is meant by it. From the Biblical point of view, salvation has to do with rediscovering or admitting that the golden rule (the true religion) is the only way to live that will save humans from all the problems they cause themselves by ignoring it thinking that a life of selfishness is better. The writers of the Bible also assumed that violating the golden rule was the original cause of physical death and suffering and so assumed that all people sin as proved by the fact that all humans die. Because it’s so obvious that the golden rule is the best way to live and that every normal adult person and even many children can recognize this it means that Jesus’ death was not necessary for people to be saved. Jesus’ death merely demonstrates the lengths to which a person may have to go to be faithful to the golden rule and, at the same time, the seeming determination to deny this truth that most people obviously have and the terrifying things they will do to people who promote it.
According to Jesus, the gospel or good news is the golden rule and the fact that it’s actually easy to live up to it if you understand it correctly. Matt. 11:29-30. What makes it difficult and keeps so many people from taking that path to life is that it obviously makes people vulnerable to those who desire power over others and the fear of abuse, criticism, and even death that usually results from daring to believe it, practice it, and attempting to convert others to it.
The stories of Jesus’ physical resurrection were obviously invented by Jesus’ apostles who admitted to not accurately understanding a lot of what they said Jesus tried to explain to them, and who were still obviously not very clear about some things when they got around to writing the letters of the New Testament, because they needed a way of encouraging converts overwhelmingly immersed in legalism and dualism and dedicated to the necessary use of symbols to remain faithful to what they were teaching. In the case of Paul, he assumed that Jesus’ resurrection was true based on his subjective experience on the way to Damascus caused by a guilty conscience and his own interpretation of the lightening strike that almost killed him and the confirmation of it he got from the other apostles. Although Jesus did not require converts to be baptized as did his cousin John (proving that it isn’t an absolute necessity), his disciples began to require it as a necessity, or so they made it sound, after he died because they still clung to the legalistic and subjective way of thinking that they had grown up with and that was promoted by a leading sect of the Jews of which Paul was among the most educated according to his own description of himself.
“If Jesus’ resurrection is not true, what would motivate anyone to try to convert other people to Jesus and to living according to the golden rule” you might ask? Well, I’ll ask you. What motivated Jesus to endure so much ridicule and even death in trying to convert people to it? Could it have been because he was so concerned about people and the problems they cause themselves by ignoring it? Then, why couldn’t that same kind of concern inspire others to do likewise? When Jesus supposedly said that if he was “lifted up,” referring to crucifixion, people from all walks of life would be inspired to follow or be drawn to him the result was essentially no different from that of an Islamic jihadist who blows himself up in sacrifice to his beliefs. He inspires others to follow his example. See 1 Corinthians 15:1-19 where Paul says that if Jesus was not raised then there’s really nothing to inspire a person to suffer the results of trying to get people to accept the golden rule as “the way of life.” Obviously, Jesus didn’t agree because he taught it and demonstrated it from the beginning of his ministry and obviously expected his disciples as well as all the Jews to understand it and do likewise. Why else would he have ridiculed them accusing them of being willfully blind to it the way he did?
“But Jesus was God,” most of you will exclaim. What you aren’t aware of is that your idea of God means that Jesus wasn’t like God, he was literally God and not a man who was like God in a figurative sense because he accurately portrayed the meaning of “the word” or golden rule which is the highest and most complete expression of love which, as John said, is God (whether he actually understood what he said or not). “No one,” said Jesus, “can express love in a greater way than to give his life for others.” John 15:13. See 1 John also. Yes, I know that the writer of Hebrews plainly said that Jesus was literally God at one time and returned to being God after a time on earth as the human Jesus but that could not be true and God be just at the same time. Such an idea has clear implications that you fail to recognize make God such an unjust manipulating tyrant that no sane and reasonable person could justly be expected to accept it and be inspired to worship “him” of their own free will.
“You’re accusing the writers of the Bible of lying!” you say. In reply, I want to ask you what you think about what Rahab did. She lied to the authorities about which way the ten Israelite spies went out of concern for their welfare and was said to have done the right thing. Do you believe that’s true? See James 2. Why couldn’t Jesus and his apostles have had the same kind of motive and you believe that they did the right thing or do you judge right and wrong based solely on a person’s actions? If so, is that the way you want people to judge you, by your actions alone? It’s clear that the apostles lied about the resurrection of Jesus but just like everyone else, they honestly believed some things and spoke about them as if they were true when they weren’t, at least not literally in the way they put them or the way people typically interpret them.

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