Understanding Preterism: Q & A
COME WITH YOUR QUESTIONS. STAY FOR THE CONVERSATION! If you have thoughts to share, please leave a comment or email me personally. I’d love to converse about anything on this site.
Please keep an open mind! If you have a question, chances are I’ve had that same question too. I hope this site helps you get where they’re going on your theological journey a little faster. And in good company.
The covenantal part: Sees the Bible as a story of mostly covenantal, not material, realities, from ‘the beginning’ of the Old Covenant in Adam, to ‘the end’ of the Old Covenant in Jesus, in 70AD. Wherein the New Covenant was fully manifest. This is why material, young earth creationist interpretations of ‘the beginning’ in Genesis don’t match science. And why doomsday interpretations of ‘the end’ don’t match Revelation. Because they’ve missed the point of the covenantal story.
The preterist part: sees all of Bible prophecy as having been fulfilled in the ministry of Jesus, through his first century advents, and in the ongoing progress of God’s people in the world. How and when did this happen?
Frequently Asked Questions
Are you crazy?
Answer: Let me remind you that nearly all who label themselves as “preterists” were at one time “futurists.” Meaning, we looked at the Second Coming of Jesus as a yet future event. Many of us asked the same questions when we first heard of Preterism. And we were open-minded in considering that Preterist eschatology had its own merits – even more than we had when we used to read the Bible through our preconceived notions. So we traded in our futurist beliefs for preterist beliefs. Many experienced a life-changing paradigm shift which caused a drastic change in the direction of our faith, our relationship with God, and the way we relate to other people, to the world around, and to the Scriptures. So if being at odds with the establishment and taking Scriptures at face-value makes us crazy, then please join us for an exciting journey that will leave you thirsty for more.
What is Preterism?
Answer: Preterism places the Biblical prophecies of intense evil and foreboding gloom in the first century, focusing on the events surrounding the forty-two-month long persecution of Christians by Nero, the forty-two-month long Jewish zealot war with Rome, and the destruction of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem in A.D. 70. The word “preterist” is based on the Latin “praeteritus,” meaning “gone by” or “past.” The Princeton University Wordnet dictionary defines a Preterist as:
- a theologian who believes that the Scripture prophecies of the Apocalypse (as in the Book of Revelations) have already been fulfilled
Preterism is also often referred to as Covenant Eschatology or Fulfilled Prophecy.
Why is Preterism important and why should I care?
Answer: Anything which can enhance and improve your relationship with God is important. Would you not like to know if your understanding of Scripture is off by even a small degree, and would you not agree that if the Kingdom of God is a present reality that is a rather important issue to be aware of? Eschatology affects virtually all aspects of Christianity; in fact almost every message preached by Jesus had an eschatological aspect to it: the message was often about critical issues like the coming Kingdom of God and the restoration of God’s presence to people’s lives.
Who invented Preterism?
Answer: Jesus (followed by all his disciples) was the one teaching a first-century Second Coming. The long answer is that Preterism has always been a minor voice throughout Church history. Church fathers like Eusebius of Caesarea, St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil the Great and many others were either Preterists or showed strong Preteristic tendencies. In the more recent history, James Stuart Russell (no relation to Jehovah’s Witness founder Charles Taze Russell) was a great influence when he published the book The Parousia. Max King was another major influence in the development of Preterism with his books The Spirit of Prophecy and The Cross and the Parousia. Dr. R.C. Sproul, Dr. Kenneth L. Gentry and Gary DeMar, while not fully subscribing to Preterist eschatology also show strong Preteristic tendencies in their writings.
What is the word Parousia that I keep running across?
Answer: The word Parousia is a transliterated Greek word (pronounced par-oo-see’-ah) which literally means “presence.” The King James Strong’s dictionary defines it this way:
- from the present participle of pareimi – pareimi 3918; a being near, i.e. advent (often, return; specially, of Christ to punish Jerusalem, or finally the wicked); (by implication) physically, aspect:–coming, presence.
For example, a more accurate translation of Matthew 24:3 would be:
- Tell us, when will these things be? What is the sign of your presence (parousia), and of the end of the age?
Because of early translations rendering parousia as the end of the world, it is not unreasonable to deduce that many believers have come to the wrong conclusion in expecting a physical and bodily return of Jesus rather than a return of his spiritual presence (parousia).
Where did Jesus teach a first-century Second Coming?
Answer: There are several passages in the New Testament in which Jesus clearly deals with the timing of his return:
- Matt. 10:23 – “Truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes.”
- Matt. 16:27,28 – “Truly I say to you, there are some who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”
- Matt. 24:34 – “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”
- Matt. 26:64 – “You [the high priest] will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Jesus was evidently teaching his disciples that the Second Coming was to take place “soon” within the lifetimes of disciples, before some would die, and before his contemporary generation would pass away. Many theologians are puzzled by these statements and are at a loss as to why Jesus “failed” to keep his promise. Could the inspired, inerrant Son of God have failed in any of his prophecies?
Any other Bible time references regarding the Second Coming of Christ?
Answer: There are many statements which place the Second Coming of Jesus in a first-century context and tie it to the destruction of the Jewish temple in A.D. 70. Here are a few:
- Matt. 10:23 – “Truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes.”
- Matt. 16:28 – “Truly I say to you, there are some who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”
- Matt. 24:34 – “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” (Jesus’ use of “this generation” throughout the gospels always refers to his contemporaries: 26:36; 11:16; 12:39, 41, 42 and 45; Luke 11:50-51; 17:25; Mk 8:38)
- Matt. 26:64 – “You [the high priest] will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Time references in the book of Revelation –
- ταχει, tachos and en tachei means “quickly, all at once, with all speed, without delay.”
- Revelation 1:1 – “…things which must shortly take place”
- Revelation 2:16 – “Repent, or else I will come to you quickly”
- Revelation 3:11 – “Behold, I come quickly!”
- Revelation 22:6 – “…things which must shortly take place.”
- Revelation 22:7 – “Behold, I am coming quickly!”
- Revelation 22:12 – “Behold, I am coming quickly.”
- Revelation 22:20 – “Surely I am coming quickly.”
- εγγυς, engus means “at hand, near”
- Revelation 1:3 – “The time is near.”
- Revelation 22:10 – “The time is at hand.”
- μελλει, mello, mellei means “about to, on the point or verge of”
- Revelation 1:19 – “Write … the things that are about to take place.”
- Revelation 3:10 – “… the hour of trial … is about to come upon the whole world.”
There are other New Testament indications of a first-century return of Jesus:
- Rom. 13:11-12 – “You know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed; the night is far gone, the day is at hand.”
- 1 Cor. 7:29-31 – “Brethren, the appointed time has grown very short; from now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the form of this world is passing away.”
- 1 Cor. 10:11 – “On [us] the ends of the ages have come.”
- Phil. 4:5 – “The Lord is at hand.”
- James 5:8-9 – “The coming of the Lord is at hand. … Behold, the Judge is standing at the door.”
- 1 Pet. 4:7 – “The end of all things is at hand.”
- 1 Jn. 2:18 – “It is the last hour … we know that it is the last hour.”
Is it possible that passages teaching a first-century Second Coming are wrong or mistaken?
Answer: Most Christians, generally speaking, profess the inerrancy of the Bible and the deity of Jesus. If certain passages of the Bible are wrong, or if Jesus was wrong in teaching a first-century Second Coming, the entire Christian faith would be undermined by erroneous claims, erroneous Scriptures and ultimately an erroneous God.
Even if Preterism is true, what difference does it make anyways?
Answer: The apparent failure of these prophesies to come true has led to skepticism about the reliability of the Bible and the deity of Christ. Preterism solves this problem by maintaining that these prophecies did, in fact, have a first century fulfillment. If Preterist eschatology is true, then Christians can offer a much MORE POSITIVE PERSPECTIVE to the world, rather than a fatalistic end of the world where our actions make no difference. If we are confident as Christians that WE CAN POSITIVELY INFLUENCE THE WORLD around us, we can perhaps motivate believers to actively be involved in helping the poor, caring for the environment, actively participate in politics and preserving the world for all future generations. PRETERISM OFFERS HOPS and maintains the integrity of the Scripture and of the entire Christian faith while it defends it against other religions and Christian cults that place the Second Coming of Jesus after A.D. 70.
Is the Second Coming not to take place right after the Gospel was preached to all people? When did this happen?
Answer: It is true that in Matthew 24:14 Jesus specifically tied his return with the preaching of the Gospel to the whole world. There are several passages which confirm that this did in fact take place in the first century. Acts 24:5, Rom. 1:8 and Col. 1:6, 23:
- “All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing. … This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I Paul, have become a servant.”
The Bible teaches that in the age to come, there will be no marrying or giving in marriage. How can preterists say the age to come has arrived when people still get married?
Answer: (by Don Preston) Consider first of all the issue of what scripture calls this age, and the age to come. This is vitally important. Most futurists, assume that when scripture speaks of “this age” it means the current Christian age, that will end with the arrival of “the age to come.” this is a fundamental error.
In Luke 20, Jesus discussed the resurrection and the age to come.
Note that Jesus is confronted with the Sadducee’s hypothetical argument against the resurrection. They discuss the practice of the Levirate marriage. Jesus, in response, says, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are counted worthy to attain that age, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage, nor can they die…and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.”
Please take note: Jesus said “the sons of this age marry.” Jesus was referring directly to the issue of the Levirate marriage! He was not referring to the universal human experience!! It is wrong to argue “ad hominem” that “Preston is married, therefore the resurrection has not occurred,” for this argument totally ignores the fact that the marriage issue at stake was the Levirate marriage law!
In what age was Jesus living, in which the Levirate marriage was the law? Clearly, it was the age of the law that was delivered to Israel at Sinai. It was the Mosaic Age!
( Deuteronomy 25)
Allow me to make three important points:
- The bible speaks of only two ages, “this age,” and “the age to come.”
- Jesus taught that “this age” was the Mosaic Age, and the age to come, was the age of Messiah and the new covenant.
- Jesus believed that “this age” the age of Moses and the Law, was to end, but, the age to come was without end!
There can be no doubt as to the essential truth of these statements. And, consider that the New Testament constantly refers to the end of the Mosaic Age, but affirms repeatedly that the age of Jesus and his New Covenant is without end! (Luke 1:32-35 / Matthew 24:35 / Ephesians 3:20-21). Ask yourself therefore, if the church age has no end, how can anyone teach the end of the current Christian age?
Now to more specifically address Jesus’ teaching in Luke 20.
In the age to come: 1.) They neither marry nor are given in marriage How was Jesus’ this age sustained? By marrying. Jesus said in the age to come that would not be the case.
Paul said that in Christ, the age that would follow the Mosaic Age, “there is neither male or female!” (Galatians 3:28)! If, in Christ, there is neither male or female, how can there be marrying and giving in marriage? Further, Jesus said in the age to come, the Levirate marriage would not be the order of the day. Is Levirate marriage practiced under the New Covenant age of Jesus? If not, then the age to come has arrived.
2.) In the age to come they cannot die. Death was the order of the Mosaic Age. Romans 7:7f / 2 Corinthians 3:6f, (Galatians 3:20-21). In contrast, Jesus’ New Covenant gives eternal life. John 8:51-Romans 6:23 / Romans 8:1-3 — free from the law of sin and death!
3.) They are Sons of God, being sons of the resurrection! Under the mosaic age — sons of god produced by giving in marrying. Born, then taught! Under the New Covenant, children are produced by faith: “you are all the children of god by faith, for as many of you as were baptized into Christ, have put on Christ.” Taught, then born (Hebrews 8:6f). In Romans 6:4f, Paul speaks of death, burial and resurrection with Christ in baptism, the resurrection by faith, that produces sons of god, and life from the dead (Colossians 2:11-13).
Thus, every constituent element that Jesus said would characterize the “age to come” is found in Christ’s new covenant world. And, it goes without saying that the New Covenant world followed the Mosaic world in which Jesus was living.
My final argument, therefore, has proven two things. It has proven that what the Bible calls “this age” was not the Christian age, but was in fact, the Mosaic Age, the age of the Law given to Israel at Sinai. This means, unequivocally, that the age to come, the age of the resurrection, is the Christian Age.
Second, since the resurrection was to occur at the end of Jesus’ this age,” and his “this age” was the Mosaic Age, then since that age came to an end at the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, this means that the resurrection occurred with the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
If the Lord did come in A.D. 70, then should we partake of the Lord’s Supper?
Answer: (by Don Preston) I believe that this common argument misunderstands the nature of the Supper and the meaning of “until” in Corinthians.
First, the word “until” does frequently mean something like “up to the point of,” and indicates a terminus or change. However, it frequently does not always mean this. Paul said “death reigned from Adam until Moses” (Romans 5:14). Surely it is acknowledged that the introduction of the Mosaic Law did not end or defeat death! Similarly, Paul told Timothy, “until I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, and to doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:14). I know of no one that would argue that Timothy was to stop reading the Scriptures when Paul arrived! There are many examples of this usage of the word “until.”
Second, it needs to be understood that whatever else Paul was saying in Corinthians, he was definitely saying that the Lord was coming in the lifetime of the Corinthians. He was writing to living breathing humans when he said, “You do shew forth the Lord’s death, until he come.” Thus, the Lord was coming in the lifetime of the Corinthians. Take the time to note the personal pronouns in Corinthians, and it will become abundantly clear that Paul was addressing the Corinthians particularly.
Third, the Supper was established to be a memorial. This is critical. It was to be a memorial of the New Covenant (Matthew 26:26f). It was to be a memorial of deliverance from the bondage of sin and death. It was to be a memorial of the unity of the faith. Now, the New Covenant was not completed until the Coming of the Lord. How could the Supper be a memorial of the New Covenant until the New Covenant became a perfected reality? And, more specifically, why would the Supper cease to function at the very moment that it became what it was supposed to be, a memorial? The Supper could only become a true memorial when that which it was to memorialize became a reality, and this was at the parousia.
Fourth, Jesus, in discussing his participation in the Supper, said “I will henceforth not take of this…until I take it new with you in my Father’s kingdom…until it is fulfilled in the kingdom.” (Luke 22). Those who contend that the Supper was to terminate at the parousia seldom pay any attention to the fact that Jesus emphatically said that he would take the Supper when the kingdom came (this was to be in A.D. 70, Luke 21:28-32). In other words, there are two “untils” used in relationship to the Supper. Corinthians does not specifically address whether or not the Supper was to be continued after the parousia. It discusses one aspect of the Supper, the proclamation of the death of Jesus. However, in Luke, the topic is the continuance/participation of the Supper, and Jesus specifically says that it would be at the coming of the kingdom when he would then participate in the Supper! The Supper was not to terminate at the parousia therefore, it was to be perfected at the parousia and become the memorial of the finished work of Jesus Christ.
We have a series of audio tapes on the meaning and continuance of the Supper available for those interested. The set of tapes can be ordered from: Ardmore Church of Christ, 2712 Mt. Washington Rd., Ardmore, Ok. 73401. Cost is $24.95 postpaid for the entire series.
Did “The Kingdom of God” then come in the first century as well?
Answer: It appears from the scriptures that the chief concern of Jesus was to bring about the Kingdom of God. The two major issues with the Kingdom are of timing and nature, allowing Preterism to offer solid answers to those seeking questions about the Kingdom:
- The Timing of the Kingdom
- Was “at hand”
- Was to come “in the days of the kings” described in Daniel 2 (i.e. the first century)
- The Nature of the Kingdom
- Is “not of this world”
- Is a “new way of thinking”
- It will “renew” the creation, especially the hearts of men
It is therefore unreasonable for Christians to expect the Kingdom of God to be anything other than a spiritual reality. The purpose of Jesus was to bring good news to the poor, freedom to prisoners, and comfort to those who mourn (see Isaiah 61). Jesus did not come to institute an earthly kingdom in which He would rule in a theocratic-style dictatorship; rather he came to free us from our presuppositions, from sin and its guilt, and bring healing to our hearts. Yes, the Kingdom of God did come in the first century and it is a present reality.
The Death and Fall
How does Preterism affect our view of Adam and Eve’s death?
Answer: In order to understand the things of the end (eschatology) we must often understand the beginning. Traditionally, the Church has been teaching that Adam and Eve were physically immortal. This seems to be an assumption that has no Biblical validation. In Genesis 2:17 we read that God instructed man to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, with the consequence being “for in the day that you eat of it you will surely die.” We know that according to the Biblical account, Adam and Even did not die in the day they ate from the tree; in fact they both lived much longer after the incident. It seems to be reasonable to suggest therefore that the death experienced by Adam and Eve was not a death of their physical bodied, rather a spiritual death which came as a result of their separation from God, which did take place “in that day” when God removed them from his presence and from the garden of Eden.
This in itself is important for several reasons:
- There is no Biblical evidence to indicate that Adam was created physically immortal. It is likely Adam was mortal and was subject to the same mortal dangers confronting humans today (falling off a cliff, killed by an animal, dying of old age).
- If the Church sees the main problem facing humanity as a physical one (death of our bodies) then it will naturally look for a physical solution: the physical and bodily return of Jesus and the physical bodily resurrection of believers.
- If the problem of death is rather one of spiritual nature (spiritual being in this sense much more important than physical), we can therefore look for a spiritual resolution, that which happened in A.D. 70 when the Jewish Temple was destroyed and the spiritual presence of Christ was restored to humanity, thus the Tree of Life (Christ) being readily available for all to eat of in order to gain life.
Are you suggesting that Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Life in Eden?
Answer: There is no indication that they did not eat from it. God specifically told man:
- “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat.” (Genesis 2:16, 17)
The only tree from which they were prohibited from eating was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Did something happen to the creation itself at the time of Adam’s fall?
Answer: Often Christians speculate that when Jesus returns in the future, he will “restore” a state of perfection in which the world was prior to the fall: no pain, no work, a life of bliss and happiness. The problem is that this speculation is based on a mere assumption that such was life in the garden of Eden prior to the fall. There are several points that contradict this assumption:
- In Genesis 2 we are reading that Adam and Eve were actively cultivating and working the garden of Eden.
- Adam and Eve (mankind) were created by God with a nervous system which actively tells us when something is wrong: i.e. putting one’s hand in a fire, or cutting one’s foot on a sharp rock. We call this pain yet we fail to see the positive aspect of it: it tells us that we are hurt and something needs to be done to resolve the deeper problem that lays beyond the pain itself. Physical pain is therefore not something necessarily negative or something that did not exist before the fall, therefore it is not something that Jesus would remove once he returns. The “no more pain” promise made in the book of Revelation is a promise to remove the pain which comes as a result of man being separated from God, the Creator.
- There is no value in God removing man’s ability to feel physical pain; God is a spiritual being manifesting Himself in spiritual ways; thus his presence and return was spiritual in nature and resolved the spiritual problem of the world: sin.
- There is no indication that the chemical structure of the universe, or that of Earth (dirt, rocks, air) was changed by the fall of Adam. Again, the greater spiritual aspect of the fall is being emphasized in Genesis in order to illustrate how destructive separation from God can be: thorns, sweat, dust, pain, etc; highly figurative language to indicate separation from God.
What about Adam’s sin and physical death being passed on to children through birth, called “sin nature?”
Answer: This is a deeper theological problem that goes beyond Preterism itself. There seems to be no Biblical evidence to indicate that Adam’s sin is being passed on to children through all generation by birth. Several arguments to ponder:
- Throughout the Scriptures, sin has always been a legal matter, which was being counted according to the Jewish Law; consequently sin has to be committed by one in order to be held against one, thus God dose not hold others responsible for Adam’s transgression.
- Children, especially newborns and infants are sin-free and thus are not responsible for Adam’s original sin:
- Deuteronomy 1:35-39 claims that children have no knowledge of evil: “Not one of these men, this evil generation, shall see the good land which I swore to give your fathers…moreover, your little ones who you said would become a prey, and your sons, who this day have no knowledge of good or evil, shall enter there, and I will give it to them and they shall possess it.”
- Jesus taught that one has to become like children (be free of sin) in order to enter the Kingdom: “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3)
- Ezekiel 18:19, 20 teaches us that children are not responsible for the sins of previous generations: “The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself”
We can then deduce that the Second Coming of Christ is not an event that was to resolve the problem of physical death, and cause the bodies of believers to come out of the graves; rather the Second Coming was an event which brought man into a deeper relationship with God, into God’s presence, which ultimately brings life not to the body, but to the soul.
The Life and Resurrection
So Preterism teaches that there is no Resurrection of the dead?
Answer: Not at all. Just as the Bible does, Preterism reinforces the Resurrection of the dead, however the argument raised by Preterism is ultimately over the nature of the Resurrection. Preterism does teach the Resurrection of the dead, however it does not subscribe to a physical resurrection of bodies. This would imply that the utmost problem faced by humanity is one of physical nature when in fact sin was the most important problem humanity had faced, problem solved through the sacrifice of Christ and the destruction of the Jewish Temple in A.D. 70.
What then is the Resurrection of the dead from a Preterist perspective?
Answer: Preterism answers this question in a comprehensive manner, attempting to deal with the root problem affecting mankind, i.e. “spiritual death.” The problem introduced by Adam and Eve’s fall was a problem of “death” in that God specifically told them that they would die in the day they would eat from the tree. We know from the Biblical narrative that Adam and Even did not die in the day in which they ate from the tree, therefore we can conclude that the death they experienced was the separation from God, which they did experience in the day they ate from the tree. That separation is the death spoken of throughout the Bible in the context of salvation and deliverance from sin. Sin causes separation between man and God, and Christ restores us back into God’s presence.
In the context of the Resurrection, this is the death which Christ dealt with at his Second Coming; that is how in Matthew 8:22 Jesus says “let the dead bury their own dead,” referring to those physically alive being spiritually dead and unable to have true life apart from Christ.
This idea of a spiritual “coming to life” is further reinforced by Christ in John 5:24 where, while speaking to physically alive people Jesus says “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” This is the essence of Resurrection spoken of in the Scriptures.
How is the resurrection from Hades described in Revelation explained by Preterism?
Answer: In Jewish theology, the concept of Sheol (the place of the dead; also called Hades in Greek), was proeminently used by both Jesus and the apostles to teach believers about Resurrection and Judgment. Because many people have passed away before Christ died on the cross to redeem their sins, it was seemingly not possible for those who died prior to the first century to be judged or rewarded accordingly. It appears therefore that instead they went to a “waiting place” called Hades or Sheol, awaiting the Judgment of God. In A.D. 70 those from Hades were “resurrected” and brought before the throne of God for judgment according to their deeds.
What about the Rapture? Were Christians not to be taken away from Earth before the return of Jesus?
Answer: Not at all. In fact, the word “rapture” does not appear anywhere in the Scripture, nor does the Scripture teach the removal of believers before the return of Christ. The only Bible passage advocating something close to the idea of a “rapture” is 1 Thessalonians 4:17:
- “Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”
The context of this passage is key to understanding it properly. Here Paul is teaching the Thessalonians regarding believers who have already died, and the order of the Resurrection. It appears that some of the Thessalonians were concerned and worried that those who were physically alive would get to experience the return of Christ before those who were already dead (see verse 15). However Paul is trying to calm their fears and puts forth the order of the events which they (the first century believers) would experience:
- God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus (verse 14)
- Those who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep (verse 15)
- The Lord will descend (verse 16)
- Then those who are alive and remain will be caught up together with those who are dead (verse 17)
Paul is doing nothing more here than teaching the order of the Resurrection and how events would transpire when Christ would return. All believers (those physically alive, and those physically dead) would together be caught up into Christ’s presence and be brought to life through the restoration of God’s presence to their lives.
Furthermore, there are clear time statements which place this passage in a first-century context. 1 Thessalonians 4:15 clearly teaches that Paul was expecting the return of Christ to take place within his lifetime or within the lifetime of his audience. The same goes for 1 Thessalonians 4:17 where Paul writes “we who are alive and remain,” referring to first century believers, not Christians living in the 21st century.
The conclude, the issuse of the Rapture while not complex, can be confusing and difficult to deal with for several reasons:
- The word “rapture” never appears anywhere in the Bible.
- The concept of a “rapture” has only been recently (within the last two hundred or so years) created by Dispensational theologians.
- The idea of a “rapture” implies that believers would be taken away before the Second Coming. This is dirrectly in opposition to Christ comparing his return with “the days of Noah” – see Matthew 24. In the days of Noah, the unrighteous were taken away by the waters of the flood, and the righteous remained and were saved – this is in clear opposition with the teachings of a “rapture.”
- The doctrine of “rapture” is based on a single Bible passage, which is 1 Thess. 4:13-17. This passage does not seem to teach a physical taking away of believers (as in believers’ bodies floating up into the skies). Such an even would be unfeasable for several reasons:
- It would serve no purpose to believers and it would contradict the prayer of Jesus in John 17:15: “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.”
- It does not spiritually benefit believers. Salvation is a spiritual matter, in that it does not necessarily involve one’s physical delivery from danger, rather it involves a spiritual delivery from eternal destruction into eternal presence of God.
The “rapture” should therefore be equated with the “resurrection” of believers which come into the presence (parousia) of Christ, bringing life, justice and deliverance to all.
The End of the World
The Bible speaks of events called “The End of the World” or “The end of time” — events which are directly connected with the Second Coming of Jesus. How could the Second Coming be a past even yet the planet Earth still be here?
Answer: The truth is that the Bible does not speak of something called “The End of the World or Time.” The distinction is in the interpretation of passages in which “the time of the End” is discussed. While seemingly minor, the difference is crucial in that Biblical passages discussing the “time of the End” are not describing events which will take place in the future, rather events related to the time of the “end of the Jewish nation” and the “end of the Mosaic covenant.” This “time of the end” according to Preterist eschatology was around A.D. 70 when the Jewish Temple was destroyed by the Roman armies and Jerusalem was burned to the ground.
So is this present world the New Heavens and New Earth spoken of in the book of Revelation?
Answer: Yes, that seems to be the case. The book of Revelation seems to be clearly describing in the last few chapters a planet, nations, kings and kingdoms, and many other features that indicate a continual existence of mankind and of planet Earth. Therefore what makes the Heavens and Earth “new” is not an act of God physically re-creating them, but a renewing and reconcilliation of all things in Christ, through his sacrifice, resurrection and return in A.D. 70. The very presence of Christ (his parousia) is what gives the Heavens and Earth a renewed character.
Are there any Study Bibles teaching anything even close to Preterism?
Answer: Yes, in fact two of the most important and well-known Study Bibles take a Preterist approach to the Scriptures. The Geneva Bible, which was a Protestant translation of the Bible was notoriously Preteristic in its approach to prophetic passages. The Orthodox Study Bible published by Nelson Publishing in the United States also places many of the prophecies of Matthew 24 in the first century, specifically A.D. 70.
How do you explain “heavens and earth” passing away?
Answer: (by Don Preston) If we understand the “heaven and earth” as literal, physical heaven and earth then this means the Old Law is still in effect. Simply put the argument would go like this: If heaven and earth had to pass before the Old Law could pass; and if heaven and earth refers to literal, physical heaven and earth, then, since literal, physical heaven and earth still exist, (have not passed), it must be true that the Old Law has not passed. On the other hand, if we understand the “heaven and earth” as figurative language referring not to physical creation, but to something else, it is possible that this “heaven and earth” could pass away, allowing for the passing of the Law. Let us explore the definition of the heaven and earth momentarily.
The prophet Isaiah predicted the passing of heaven and earth in chapter 24. He said the earth would be utterly broken down, clean dissolved, and completely removed, vs. 19. Now this sounds like the destruction of material creation but closer examination reveals it to be speaking of the destruction of Israel’s Covenant World under the imagery of “heaven and earth”. Note verse 5 gives the reason for the destruction — “they have broken the everlasting covenant”. What covenant was that? It was the Mosaic Covenant. God was going to destroy “heaven and earth” because Israel had broken her covenant with Jehovah. Are we to believe that one day the universe will be destroyed because Israel broke her covenant?
Another example of “heaven and earth” being referent to the Covenant World of Israel and not literal creation is Isaiah 51:16.
- “I have put my word in your mouth and have covered you with the shadow of my hand, to establish the heavens, to found the earth, and to say to Zion, ‘You are my people’”. (NASV) (Unfortunately, the New International Version incorrectly translates this verse. Check several translations.)
What is the point? Notice that God is speaking to Israel. He says he gave them his law, the Mosaic Covenant, the same law Jesus is speaking about in Matthew 5:17-18, to establish heaven and lay the foundation of the earth! Clearly Jehovah is not saying he gave the Mosaic Covenant to Israel to create literal heaven and earth! Material creation existed long before Israel was ever given the Mosaic Covenant.
The meaning of the verse is that Jehovah gave his covenant with Israel to create their world — a covenant world with Jehovah.
God created Israel’s “heaven and earth” by giving them his Covenant. Now if he destroyed that Old Covenant heaven and earth and gave a New Covenant, would he not thereby be creating a new heavens and new earth? This is precisely the thought in the New Covenant scriptures.
Old Israel’s covenant was about to pass away, II Corinthians 3:10ff; Hebrews 8:13; 12:25ff. The New Covenant of Christ was being given, Ephesians 3:3ff; Hebrews 2:1ff. Since the giving of Covenant created “heaven and earth” the New Heaven and Earth of Christ would not be completed until the New Covenant was completely revealed. It therefore follows that if the New Heavens and Earth of Christ has not arrived then Christ’s New Covenant has not yet been fully revealed. If Christ’s New Covenant has been fully revealed then the new heavens and new earth have fully come. Consider this carefully in light of II Peter 3 and Revelation 21-22, passages written as the process of revealing the New Covenant was yet incomplete.
In Isaiah 51:5-6 God predicted the “heaven and earth” would vanish. This is the same “heaven and earth” he had established at Sinai. This is not a prediction of the passing of literal heaven and earth–it is a prediction of the passing of the Old World of Israel so that the New Covenant World of Messiah would be established. We believe this heaven and earth that Isaiah said would perish is the same heaven and earth Jesus said must pass before the Old Law would pass.
Satan and Evil
If Satan and the demons have been cast into the Lake of Fire, how do you explain all of the evil in the world today?
Answer (by Samuel Frost): The question appears to assume that “satan and the demons” are the cause or explanation of “all the evil in the world.” The scriptural evidence, however, leads me to believe in a different conclusion.
1). God created evil. Isaiah 45:7; Lamentations 3.38, etc. The clearest picture in Scripture of this fact is that God made the tree of the knowledge of good and evil before the failure of Adam and Eve. Therefore, evil was before God created man. Evil was known by the mind of God in its entirety from eternity.
2). “God is righteous in all of his dealings” (Dan 4:35) and therefore can do no wrong. Even though he causes evil events, that is, events that we report as evil, and events that men bring about on other men (and we hold those men accountable for their evil actions), God Himself is not an agent, is not accountable to no man, and cannot be charged with committing evil. His motivations for bringing about evil actions of men is qualitatively different and righteous, whereas evil men fail to have these motivations. They are accountable. God is accountable to no man.
3). Genesis 6:5 tells us that man’s mind is “on evil all the time.” The distinction between these men and Noah is that “Noah found grace” (Genesis 6.8). This grace enabled Noah to obey God. Jer. Concurs: “the heart of man is evil, who can know it?” Man is born with the knowledge of good and evil, and the Second Coming of Christ did not alter this fact in the slightest. In order for man to be transformed into the image of Christ, he must also have eternal life. Having the knowledge of good and evil in our minds is the agency for evil to be.
4). “satan” was temporary. One would need powerful gifts of the Spirit to discern his activities in the world today. One would have to know if a sickness was from “demonic possession” or just a sickness. Only by the spiritual giftings enabled directly by the Spirit could one know this. If there are those that claim that spititual giftings today have ceased, then how can one tell that the devil or demons are committing each specific act?
5). “satan’s” role was to accuse according to the transgression of the law given to Adam and increased in the giving of the law to Israel. Now that the law has been fulfilled for those in Christ Jesus, mankind can now receive reconciliation with God through Christ. Those who have not received such reconciliation are still dead in their sins and their hearts still born with the “knowledge of the law” (good and evil). Before, eternal life could not be given, but now In Christ it can. The effects and residue of the reign of the Death, the Sin and the Law by the justly appointed angel called “satan” are still very much with us today, though decreasing as the gospel spreads over time, but “satan” himself, and the rule of the death and the sin and the law are no longer powers or principalities that rule in the heavenlies. They have all been vanquished. God justly rules over all things, being all in all, having filled all things, having destroyed all of his enemies. This fact, however, does not alter the fact that, in spite of the destruction of these powers, that man is born with a heart of only the knowledge of good and evil. It is through Christ, having faith in Christ, which is a gift of God, that he can come and eat of the Tree of Life in the restored Kingdom. Up until this time, he, like Adam, only has a knowledge of good and evil, and though he perform the good occassionally, “even the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel” (Prov. 12:10) since it is not linked to faith and worship in Christ.
Conclusion, satan was appointed by God to carry out the judicial sentence against all men, including the righteous. All who were truly “of Israel” by faith in God were equally condemned “in Adam” and under the curse of “the Death and the Sin.” Because of the reconciling work of the Incarnate One, these, along with “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord” were and are given acces eternally to the Tree of Life, which Adam and all men were originally cut off from. In order to be given access, “the death, satan, the sin and the law” had to be vanquished. Their time was served, and their defeat was sure. “satan” is no longer necessary in the affiars of God, and thus his appointment was ended with the parousia, the consummation of all things in the generation His Son descended upon.
Is Satan still around today?
Answer: If we are to demand consistency, and if we maintain that in A.D. 70 Satan and other demons (evil spirits) were thrown into the Lake of Fire as a final solution and end of their existence, then it would be reasonable to suggest that Satan is no longer around, while some of his negative influence on the world still seems to persist.
So why is there still sin today?
Answer: The idea that the Second Coming of Christ would bring about an end to sin does not appear to be supported by Scripture. In Romans 6 Paul is teaching us that “he who has died is freed from sin” therefore while sin still exists, the power of sin, Death, has been finally and permanently dealt with in A.D. 70 through the destruction of the Jewish Temple.
The Jewish Temple
What does the Jewish Temple have to do with Death and Life?
Answer: In the New Testament we are told that the Law and the Jewish system of animal sacrifices was enslaving humanity to sin:
- “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” (Romans 6).
Therefore the Jewish Temple had in fact become an obstacle between humanity and God, enslaving both Jews and Gentiles to sin and to a system of sacrifices that could never deliver us from our sins:
- “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” (Hebrews 10)
It is for this very reason that in Hebrews 9 we are being told in a quite straightforward way that there is no way to God’s presence as long as the Jewish Temple is still standing:
- “The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing” (Hebrews 9:8)
It is for this very reason that Jesus actively prophesied the destruction of the Jewish Temple (Matthew 24, Luke 21) with Stephen and Paul following in his footsteps. The destruction of the Temple was a necessary step in destroying the Law which enslaved humanity to sin and clearing the path for God’s Presence to be restored to a humanity desperately in need of God. Animal sacrifices have forever been stopped and the blood of Christ, rather than the blood of bulls and goats is cleansing us from all our sins.
Are you suggesting that the Temple will never be rebuilt in Jerusalem?
Answer: It is unlikely God will allow another Temple to be rebuilt in Jerusalem, mostly because a restoration of animal sacrifices would contradict the sacrifice of Christ and would reinstate the Jewish Law which was fulfilled in the first century. St. Chrysostom rightly observed that the destruction of the Jewish Temple should not be ascribed to the Romans, but to divine providence:
- “By breaking the cup, prevents his patient from indulging his appetite in a noxious draught; so God withheld the Jews from their sacrifices by destroying the whole city itself, and making the place inaccessible to all of them”
Interestingly, as a historical footnote, it appears that God will not allow the Jewish Temple to be rebuilt again. In year 363, emperor Julian decided to subsidize the reconstruction of the Temple using Roman funds; at once he commanded the Jews to start working on the building project, at which Jews from across Jerusalem came together and scorned Christians in anticipation of the restoration of animal sacrifices. St. Cyril of Jerusalem however look at these preparations without any concern pointing to the Scriptures and saying that “the desolation of the Jewish temple should last till the end, and and that one stone should not be left on another.”
When work commenced on the foundation of the temple, Ammiannus Marcellinus, an eye witness to these events, recorded that
- “…such horrible balls of fire out of the earth near the foundations,’ which rendered the place, from time to time, inaccessible to the scorched and blasted workmen. And the victorious element continuing in this manner obstinately and resolutely bent as it were to drive them to a distance, Alypius thought proper to give over the enterprise.”
St. Gregory Nazianzen also recorded that the fire was followed by wind, lightning and an earthquake, with others recording miraculous events taking place, such as a bright cross appearing in the skies, and with all these events repeating as the workers tried to approach the work site and continue working.
All these men were eye witnesses to these events or knew people who experienced the events firsthand, together with others like St. Ambrose, Rufinus, Theodoret, Philostorgius the Arian and others. Because of these miraculous events, the work on rebuilding the Temple was stopped and the project was abandoned permanently. That is why today there is no Temple standing in Jerusalem.
The Book of Revelation
Was the Book of Revelation not written in 95-96 A.D.?
Answer: Critics of Preterism often point out that the Book of Revelation was written in 95-96 A.D. and therefore it could not have prophesied events taking place in 63-70 A.D. The truth is that there is no evidence to suggest that the Book of Revelation was written that late in the first century. There are two sources used to place an early date on the Book of Revelation:
- John was told he must prophesy again (Revelation 10:11)
- Revelation was a letter written specifically to the “Seven Churches of Asia” not to contemporary Christians living 2,000 years later
- The Jewish Temple was still standing when it was written (Revelation 11:1-2)
- The story is about Jerusalem, the great city where our Lord was crucified (Revelation 11:8)
- Nero was the “sixth king” that gave the order for Jerusalem to be destroyed. The order of the Roman emperors was as follows: 1. Julius Caesar, 2. Augustus, 3. Tiberius, 4. Gaius (Caligula), 5. Claudius, 6. Nero (54-68)
- The “Song of Moses” was being sung by the martyrs in Revelation 15:2,3; only Jewish people would have known to sing this song found in Deuteronomy 32:1-43.
- Many time statements promise the events are “at hand” and they would happen “quickly” and “soon” (Revelation 1:1,3; 2:16; 3:11; 22:6,7,10,12,20).
Other external evidence can also be used to show an early date for the Book of Revelation. For an in-depth look at these sources, we highly recommend the book Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation written by Kenneth L. Gentry.
Who is the woman called Babylon in the book of Revelation?
Answer: The “mother of all prostitutes” – “Babylon the great” is none other than Jerusalem in particular or Israel in general. There are several reasons for this conclusion:
- She fills herself with the blood of the prophets and saints: Rev. 16:6, 17:6, 18:20, 24. Cf. Matt. 23:37 and Acts 7:52.
- She is the great city where the Lord was crucified: Revelation 11:8
- In the Old Testament, the unfaithful Israel was often described as a prostitute or an unfaithful wife: Jer. 2:2, 3:14, Is. 54:5, Jer. 3:20, Hos. 1:2, Ez. 6:9, Ez. 16, Is. 50:1. Isaiah 1:21 describes it as “See how the faithful city has become a harlot.”
The clothing of Babylon is especially important in trying to identify her:
- Dressed in purple, scarlet, gold, precious stones and pearls (Rev. 17:3-5) – an almost exact description of the high priest’s ephod (Ex. 28:5-6, 36)
- This combination of fabrics and gems also describes the temple tapestry, which, according to Josephus, was “Babylonian tapestry in which blue, purple, scarlet and linen were mingled.” (Wars of the Jews 5.5.4)
- The gold cup she holds (Rev. 17:4) is symbolic of the temple’s implements: “The greatest part of the vessels … were of silver and gold” (Wars of the Jews 5.4.4.)
- Josephus’ description of the temple reflects the same opulence: “The outward face of the temple in its front … was covered all over with plates of gold of great weight, and at the first rising of the sun, reflected back a very fiery splendor, and made those who forced themselves to look upon it to turn their eyes away, just as they would have done at the sun’s own rays. But this temple appeared to strangers, when they were at a distance, like a mountain covered with snow; for, as to those parts of it that were not gilt, they were exceeding white.” (Wars of the Jews 5.5.6) The inscription on the prostitute’s forehead is a perverse image of that on the high priest’s: “Holy to the Lord.”
Who is the Beast described in the book of Revelation?
Answer: Generally speaking, the Beast appearing in Revelation is Rome, the Roman empire or the Roman emperor. There are several reasons for understanding the Beast generally as Rome:
- The woman Babylon was seated on the Beast, which implies they were in league with each other. Josephus writes: It seems to me to be necessary here to give an account of all the honors that the Romans and their emperors paid to our nation, and of the leagues of mutual assistance they have made with it.” (Antiquities, 14.10.1-2)
- The Jewish people used this relationship with Rome to persecute Christians and destroy Christianity: (Jn. 19:15, Luke 23:2). Throughout Acts they agitated against the Christian so as to involve the Romans in their persecution (Acts 4:27; 16:20; 17:7; 18:12; 21:11; 24:1-9; 25:1-2)
- The Beast turned on Babylon and destroyed her: Rev. 17:16-17. This happens during the Jewish War, the 42 month period of trampling underfoot by the Gentiles (Rev. 11:2)
- “The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits.” (17:9) Rome was known in antiquity as the city on seven hills (Septimontium).
- Rome was rising from the sea: (13:1). From either John’s vantage point on Patmos, or the Jews’ vantage point, Rome appeared to rise from the sea. Cf. 17:1.
- “The seven heads … are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come.” By this time of Revelation’s writing (during the Neronic persecution) five of the Roman emperors had fallen (Julius, Augustus, Tiberius, Gaius, and Claudius), one was still reigning (Nero), and one would remain for only a short time (Galba, who reigned only seven months, from June A.D. 68 to January, A.D. 69), and was followed by three others in short succession.
The Beast could also be specifically understood as Nero for several important reasons:
- Nero was the emperor at the time when Revelation was written: He is the sixth king “who is.” Suetonius’ enumeration of the emperors was: Julius, Augustus, Tiberius, Gaius or Caligula, Claudius (the five kings who have fallen at the time that John is writing), Nero (one “who is”), and Galba – one who “has not yet come, but when he does come, he must remain for a little while” – seven months (Rev. 17:10)
- Nero claimed he was a god and demanded to be worshiped as such: Rev. 13:5-8. Inscriptions have been found in Ephesus in which Nero is called “Almighty God” and “Savior.” He and Caligula “abandoned all reserve” in promoting emperor worship – they were the only two who demanded divine honors while still alive. Nero claimed to be Apollo.
- Nero persecuted the Church for 42 months: from November, A.D. 64 through June, A.D. 68. John banished to Patmos during this persecution (Rev. 1:9) and Peter and Paul died in A.D. 66 or 67.
- John accurately prophesied this: Rev. 13:5 – “The beast was given … authority for forty-two months. … He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them.”
- Tacitus reported that Nero “inflicted unheard-of punishments on those who, detested for their abominable crimes, were vulgarly called Christians” (Annals 15.44). The persecution claimed “an immense number” (Tacitus), “a vast multitude of the elect” (1 Clement 6).
Nero’s character is also very much similar to that of a Beast:
- Nero murdered his own family
- He married a boy then castrated him and killed him
- He kicked his pregnant wife to death
- Suetonius writes that Nero “devised a kind of game in which, covered with the skin of some wild animal, he was let loose from a cage and attacked the private parts of men and women, who were bound to stakes.” (The Lives of the Caesars, 6.29)
- Tacitus … spoke of Nero’s ‘cruel nature’ that ‘put to death so many innocent men.’ Pliny the Elder … described Nero as ‘the destroyer of the human race’ and ‘the poison of the world.’ Juvenal tells of ‘Nero’s cruel and bloody tyranny.’ Apollonius of Tyana specifically states that Nero was called a ‘beast’: ‘In my travels, which have been wider than ever man yet accomplished, I have seen man, many wild beasts of Arabia and India; but this beast, that is commonly called a Tyrant, I know not how many heads it has, nor if it be crooked of claw, and armed with horrible fangs. … And of wild beasts you cannot say that they were ever known to eat their own mother, but Nero has gorged himself on this diet.”
- He committed suicide by the sword at the age of 31. Cf. Rev. 13:10 – “If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he will be killed.”
The number of the beast was also 666 according to Revelation 13:18, therefore as Hebrew had no numerals and used letters to signify numbers, the name Neron Caesar when transliterated into Hebrew (NRWN QSR) had a number of 666.
A well-documented textual variant has 616. A mere copyist’s error? Bruce Metzger speculates: “Perhaps the change was intentional, seeing that the Greek form Neron Caesar written in Hebrew characters (nrwn qsr) is equivalent to 666, whereas the Latin form Nero Caesar (nrw qsr) is equivalent to 616.”
For an in-depth look at the Beast, we highly recommend the book Beast of Revelation written by Kenneth L. Gentry.
Who is the Antichrist?
Answer: The Antichrist as defined by the Scriptures is someone who opposes Christ and the Kingdom. Unlike end-times fictional writers are claiming, the Antichrist will not be a super-human-like person which will take over the world. Rather reading from Scriptures, in 1 John 2 we read:
- “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.”
John was writing this letter in the early 60s, pointing out that many antichrists were already there, and that they were living in the last hour at that time. Later on he goes on to specifically define the word “antichrist” in theological terms:
- “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh This is the deceiver and the antichrist.” (2 John 1:7)
It is evident that John had a rather broad idea of who was the antichrist, i.e. anyone denying the existence of Christ and his coming in the flesh.
What is the Lake of Fire?
Answer: The Lake of Fire, also called Gehenna (The Valley of Hinnom) was literally a large valley outside the city of Jerusalem serving as the city’s garbage dump. In this pit fires were burning continually in order to destroy refuse, dead animals, and even the bodies of the homeless; the ever-rising smoke from this valley was legendary in the first century. In Revelation, John makes an appropriate illustration to this being the place where non-believers and Christ-rejecting folks would die; appropriately, Josephus recorded that hundreds of thousands of Jewish bodies were literally burned by the invading Roman armies in Gehenna in A.D. 70.
When did the Millennium take place?
Answer: While the word millennium does not appear in the Scripture, the Book of Revelation does speak of a period of time of one thousand years during which Satan would be bound. Preterism sees this period of time as being symbolic, and not a literal thousand years. This period of time rather is in fact equivalent with a fourty year period of time and transition found between A.D 30 (the beginning of Christ’s ministry) and A.D. 70 (the fall of the Jewish Temple). This transition period is also viewed as a transition from the Old Covenant (The Law) to the New Covenant (Christ), bringing about a New Jerusalem with the destruction of the old one. During this time, Satan was bound and his power greatly diminished; the Church grew and the Gospel was preached to all the corners of the world. Per Revelation 20, shortly before A.D. 70, Satan was released and caused great havock across the world and specifically across Israel, leading Israel to lose all sense and eventually causing their very own destruction.
Preterist theologians often compare this first century fourty-year transition with Israel’s transition from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land. There are many similarities between the book of Deuteronomy and the book of Revelation which we can use to illustrate why the “thousand years” spoken of in Revelation is not literal, and is in fact equivalent with the A.D. 30 – A.D. 70 interval:
|Israel warned that something important is about to happen (in that generation, 5:3)||The Church warned that something important is about to happen (in that generation, 1:1)|
|Israel urged to obey God’s Law (4)||The churches urged to obey God (1-3)|
|Obedience of God brings life and prosperity (6)||Obedience brings life and protection (7:3)|
|Moses calls on two witnesses (4:25; 30:19)||Two witnesses called upon (11)|
|Plagues, famine, sickness (28:59)||Great plagues, pestilence, famine and mourning (18:8)|
|Israel will be a harlot (31:16)||Israel is a harlot (19:2)|
|A glimpse of the type of Promised Land (34)||A glimpse of the REAL Promised Land (21:1,2)|
|Do not add to this book (4:2)||Do not add to this book (22:18)|
|Old Covenant||New Covenant|
|Moses comes from the water to deliver Israel from bondage in Egypt||Jesus baptized in water starts ministry to deliver mankind from bondage of sin (A.D. 30)|
|Moses leads Israel to promised land, but unbelieving generation rejects the land||Jesus leads Israel to salvation, but unbelieving generation rejects him|
|Evil generation has to die after 40 years of re-generation||Evil generation has to die while the Church is created for 40 years|
|After 40 years, Israel enters promised land, obstacle Jericho has to be destroyed under the leadership of Joshua||After 40 years, the Church enters promised land, obstacle Jerusalem (Jewish Temple) destroyed under the leadership of Jeshua (Jesus) A.D. 70|
|The promised land offers Israel protection and life||The parousia (Greek: presence of Christ) offers the church protection and life|
When did all the miracles of Revelation and Matthew 24 happen, and are they recorded?
Answer: Many of the miracles and predictions made in Matthew 24 and Revelation have been recorded by Josephus in his account War of the Jews. Below are just a few examples:
- “Now, there was then a great number of false prophets suborned by the tyrants to impose upon the people, who denounced this to them, that they should wait for deliverance from God: and this was in order to keep them from deserting, and that they might be buoyed up above fear and care by such hopes.” (Wars of the Jews 6.5.2)
- “Thus were the miserable people persuaded by these deceivers, and such as belied God himself; while they did not attend, nor give credit, to the signs that were so evident and did so plainly foretell their future desolation; but, like men infatuated, without either eyes to see, or minds to consider, did not regard the denunciations that God made to them. Thus there was a star resembling a sword, which stood over the city, and a comet, that continued a whole year. Thus also, before the Jews’ rebellion, and before those commotions which preceded the war, when the people were come in great crowds to the feast of unleavened bread, on the eighth day of the month Xanthicus [Nisan], and at the ninth hour of the night, so great a light shone round the altar and the holy house, that it appeared to be bright day time; which light lasted for half an hour. This light seemed to be a good sign to the unskillful, but was so interpreted by the sacred scribes, as to portend those events that followed immediately upon it.” (Wars of the Jews 6.5.3)
- “So these publicly declared, that this signal foreshowed the desolation that was coming upon them. Besides these, a few days after that feast, on the twenty-first day of the month Artemisius, a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared; I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those that saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for, before sunsetting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities. Moreover at that feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner Temple, as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, they said that, in the first place, they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, “Let us remove hence.” (Wars of the Jews 6.5.3)
Did anyone else beside Josephus record these miracles?
Answer: Yes, both Eusebius and Tacitus recorded some of these events. In his book Historia Ecclesiastica, Book 3, Chapter 8, Eusebius wrote about some of these events as well:
- “1 – Taking, then, the work of this author, read what he records in the sixth book of his History. His words are as follows:94 “Thus were the miserable people won over at this time by the impostors and false prophets;95 but they did not heed nor give credit to the visions and signs that foretold the approaching desolation. On the contrary, as if struck by lightning, and as if possessing neither eyes nor understanding, they slighted the proclamations of God.”
- “2 – At one time a star, in form like a sword, stood over the city, and a comet, which lasted for a whole year; and again before the revolt and before the disturbances that led to the war, when the people were gathered for the feast of unleavened bread, on the eighth of the month Xanthicus,96 at the ninth hour of the night, so great a light shone about the altar and the temple that it seemed to be bright day; and this continued for half an hour. This seemed to the unskillful a good sign, but was interpreted by the sacred scribes as portending those events which very soon took place.”
- “3 – And at the same feast a cow, led by the high priest to be sacrificed, brought forth a lamb in the midst of the temple.”
- “4 – And the eastern gate of the inner temple, which was of bronze and very massive, and which at evening was closed with difficulty by twenty men, and rested upon iron-bound beams, and had bars sunk deep in the ground, was seen at the sixth hour of the night to open of itself.”
- “5 – And not many days after the feast, on the twenty-first of the month Artemisium,97 a certain marvelous vision was seen which passes belief. The prodigy might seem fabulous were it not related by those who saw it, and were not the calamities which followed deserving of such signs. For before the setting of the sun chariots and armed troops were seen throughout the whole region in mid-air, wheeling through the clouds and encircling the cities.”
- “6 – And at the feast which is called Pentecost, when the priests entered the temple at night, as was their custom, to perform the services, they said that at first they perceived a movement and a noise, and afterward a voice as of a great multitude, saying, ‘Let us go hence.”
Tacitus, one of the most important historians of Roman Antiquity, also recorded some strange events in his book Historiae, Book Five:
- “Prodigies had occurred, which this nation, prone to superstition, but hating all religious rites, did not deem it lawful to expiate by offering and sacrifice. There had been seen hosts joining battle in the skies, the fiery gleam of arms, the temple illuminated by a sudden radiance from the clouds. The doors of the inner shrine were suddenly thrown open, and a voice of more than mortal tone was heard to cry that the Gods were departing. At the same instant there was a mighty stir as of departure. Some few put a fearful meaning on these events, but in most there was a firm persuasion, that in the ancient records of their priests was contained a prediction of how at this very time the East was to grow powerful, and rulers, coming from Judaea, were to acquire universal empire. These mysterious prophecies had pointed to Vespasian and Titus, but the common people, with the usual blindness of ambition, had interpreted these mighty destinies of themselves, and could not be brought even by disasters to believe the truth. I have heard that the total number of the besieged, of every age and both sexes, amounted to six hundred thousand.” (Tacitus, Historiae, Book Five)
The Book of Daniel
When did the Great Tribulation take place?
Answer: The seven-year period of tribulation spoken of in the Book of Daniel can be traced accurately and exactly to be the seven years beginning in A.D. 63 and ending in A.D. 70. Historical records tell us that in year 63 A.D. the Jewish people revolted against Rome, which gave way to a hellish seven year period in which millions of Jewish people died, and ended with the destruction of the Temple and the city of Jerusalem. Josephus, in his volume Wars of the Jews documents in detail this terrible period of time and points out numerous instances of prophetic fulfillment. In addition, the seventy weeks of Daniel are not a future event, rather it is presented as a judgment on Israel:
- “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression” (Daniel 9:24)
The Great Tribulation is not a future period of time; it was a period of time ending in A.D. 70 with the destructio of the Temple, and can be documented well with historical documents.
Who were the ten kings (or horns) described in Daniel 7?
Answer: The general understanding of most Preterists is that the “ten horns” or “ten kings” are the ten Roman emperors in the following order with the years of their reign:
- Julius Caesar (Caesar) B.C. 49 to B.C. 44
- Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus (Augustus) to B.C. 31 to August 19, A.D. 14
- Tiberius Caesar Augustus (Tiberius) A.D. 14 to March 16 A.D. 37
- Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (Caligula) A.D. 37 to January 24, A.D. 41
- Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (Claudius) January 24, A.D. 41 to October 13 A.D. 54
- Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (Nero) October 13, A.D. 54 to June 9, A.D. 68
- Servius Sulpicius Galba (Galba) June 8, A.D. 68 to January 15, A.D. 69
- Marcus Salvius Otho (Otho) January 15, A.D. 69 to April 16, A.D. 69
- Aulus Vitellius Germanicus (Vitellius) April 17, A.D. 69 to December 22, A.D. 69
- Imperator Caesar Vespasianus Augustus (Vespasian) A.D. 69 to A.D. 79
As it is evident from history, the three kings which were “uprooted” (reigned for very short periods of time) were Galba, Otho and Vitellius before the “little horn” with the remaining seven kings being the seven kings of Revelation 17.
When did the “seventy weeks” of Daniel take place?
Answer: There are several opinions among Preterist scholars regarding the Seventy Weeks mentioned in the book of Daniel. What all agree on is that those “weeks” are in fact weeks of years and would add up to roughly 490 literal years. The disagreements are however caused by two important points:
- Changes in calendars system created discrepancies in the historical timeline. This makes it nearly impossible to accurately calculate the differences in years and months demanded by many critics.
- There are four different decrees that could be used as the starting point of the seventy weeks of Daniel
- The first decree was issued by Cyrus the Great in 536 B.C. (see Ezra 1:1 – 4;2 Chronicles 36:22,23)
- The second decree was issues by King Darius of Persia in 519 B.C. when the captive Jewish people appealed to Darius to search the royal library for the first decree of Cyrus. When found, Darius re-confirmed it. (see Ezra 5:1 – 6:12)
- The third decree was issued by Artaxerxes I of Persia in 458 B.C. Ezra was given official authority to collect gold and silver and use the royal treasury for whatever else was needed. (see Ezra 7:11 – 22)
- The fourth decree was also issued by Artaxerxes I of Persia in 445 B.C.
It seems that regardless of which decree is being used, the prophecy of the seventy weeks points to a period of time during which several important things will happen:
- Atone for iniquity
- Bring sin to completion
- Seal up prophetic vision
- Anoing a new most holy place
- A seven-year covenant will happen
- Sacrifices and temple offerings will stop permanently
Because of these specifics, it seems without a doubt that the seventy weeks of Daniel were wrapped up sometime in the first century, likely at the fall of the Jewish Temple in A.D. 70 when sacrifices and offerings were permanently stopped.
Church and Tradition
Are you suggesting that the Church has missed the Second Coming for over 2,000 years?
Answer: Development of theology is always a struggle between tradition and progress, and Preterist eschatology is another example of this struggle. While the Church at large did apparently miss the significance of the events that transpired in A.D. 70, Preterism has always had a minor voice throughout history, with Church fathers like Eusebius of Caesarea, St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil the Great and many others were either Preterists or showed strong Preteristic tendencies.
How can you be correct and millions of other Christians wrong?
Answer: The point of Preterism is not to point out the wrongs of others and elevate theology above all other things; while some advocate division and separation over matters of eschatology, we encourage conversation and discourse in order to open new possibilities to all believers. We are simply providing possibilities and take no pride or claims in being correct over other Christians. All we are asking is to consider our position in light of the Scripture.
How is it that Preterism seems to contradict some of the creeds of the Church?
Answer: The general position of Preterism regarding creeds is that creeds are not inspired and inerrant statements, nor are they “Scripture.” Whenever one appeals to creeds in order to sustain a theological position that is unsustainable otherwise, the problem is deeper than creeds and Preterism, and becomes an issue of Scripture vs. creed. Therefore Preterism, while it sees historical and cultural value in the various creeds, sees little theological substance in them, especially when they appear to contradict Scripture.
Why did nobody notice the Second Coming taking place in A.D. 70?
Answer: Josephus and several other historians did in fact notice and record that what transpired in A.D. 70 was something ordaine and likely divine. Just as the Jewish people expected Jesus to come and institute a physical Kingdom and dethrone Rome, Christians today expect the same thing. Perhaps the nature of the Second Coming was much more spiritual and deeper than the eye could see, such as God (a spiritual being) and his presence being restored to Earth.
Is Preterism not taking away the “blessed hope” of the believers?
Answer: Some critics have accused Preterism of taking away the hope of the believers for a future Second Coming of Christ. This accusation is as much groundless as it is built on a logical fallacy. If the Second Coming would take place today, would those same critics claim that it also robs believers of their “blessed hope?” The reality of God’s presence is not something that takes away hope; it rather gives us the hope and confidence we often lack. Christians should confidently proclaim the living presence of God and of the Kingdom. They are not future realities, but they are present and they are here.
What other websites and online tools are available that would help be learn more about Preterism?
Answer: There are several quality websites that can help you learn more about Preterist eschatology:
- PlanetPreterist.com is an interactive online community for exchanging Preterist content, ideas and discussions
- Open Source Theology is Andrew Perriman’s Emergent Theology website which often also covers Emergent Eschatology
- The Open Bible Project is an online collaborative effort to create a Covenant Eschatology study Bible – you may participate or learn if you wish
- Presence is a ministry promoting covenantal, personal, organizational and societal transformation through the understanding of God’s word and prophecy
What books do you recommend that would help me learn more about Preterism?
Answer: There is a large number of books that are now covering Preterism, however a small number are very important in setting up a framework that helps you understand eschatology in its proper context:
- James Stuart Russell’s book The Parousia is available for free online.
- The Spirit of Prophecy by Max King can be purchased from Presence.tv.
- The Cross and the Parousia of Christ by Max King can also be purchased from Presence.tv.
- Andrew Perriman’s book The Coming of the Son of Man: New Testament Eschatology for an Emerging Church is available from Amazon.com or if you are from the U.K. you can buy a copy from eden.co.uk.
- R.C. Sproul’s book The Last Days According to Jesus is an excellent primer to Preterism.
- Before Jerusalem Fell is Kenneth L. Gentry’s stellar effort to show an early date of the Book of Revelation.
- Gary DeMar answers the Left Behind fiction series with End Times Fiction, a great resource showing the shortcoming of Dispensational theology.
Q & A From: http://en.preterism.com