A Scriptural Critique
of Full Preterism
In Light of Matthew 24
and Related Passages

By Rusty Entrekin
 
 


Table of Contents


What Is Preterism?

Why Full Preterism is Heterodox

Jesus Foretells a Time When All Of Israel Will Acknowledge Him

Other Scriptures Foretell a Time in Which All of Israel Will Be Saved

Jesus Foretells The Destruction of the Temple

The Disciples Asked Jesus Not One, But Three Questions

A Critical Interpretive Error Full Preterists Make

Nine Things Which Must Happen Before Christ Returns

Was the Gospel Preached in All the World Before 70AD?

Jesus Foretells Two Desolations Of Jerusalem

The As Yet Unfulfilled Desolation

Does God Use Hyperbole?

The Fulfilled Desolation

Six Reasons Why Matthew and Mark Write Regarding
a Future Tribulation, but Luke Writes Regarding 70 AD

What Is The Nature Of The Abomination Of Desolation?

God Makes a Land Desolate For The Abominations of it’s People

The Five31/2 Year Passages

Does the The Man of Lawlessness Set Up The Abomination of Desolation In The Temple?

What and Who Are Restraining The Man of Lawlessness?

Every Eye Shall See Him

Are The Celestial Events Jesus Foretold Only Figurative?

Should We Burn the Creeds While Crying, “Sola Scriptura?”

What Does “This Generation” Mean?

Another Serious Hermeneutic Problem With Full Preterism

No One Knows The Day Or The Hour

Although The Early Believers Were Ready and Expectant
The Lord Might Return Within Their Lifetimes, This Does Not
Mean That They Were Certain He Would Do So.

The Master’s Long Journey

Like A Watch In the Night

Why the Lord Is Not Slow Concerning His Promise

Footnotes

Appendix

 

What Is Preterism?

What is a preterism? If you're like most people, you've never even heard the term. In his book The Last Days According to Jesus, R.C. Sproul defined Preterism as:

An eschatological viewpoint that places many or all eschatological events in the past, especially during the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. ( p. 228)

There are two kinds of preterists: full and partial. Full preterists, also called  consistent preterists, hyper-preterists, Hymenaen preterists, and pantelists, believe that all of scripture was fulfilled in 70 AD, when Jerusalem was destroyed by Titus. They build this doctrine primarily on the statement of Jesus recorded in Matthew 24:34: “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” Because Jesus said this, they assert that the second advent must have happened  before the last member of that generation died. A favorite statement among many full preterists is “time determines nature.” Since Jesus’ time statement is clear, they say, we must interpret the nature of last days events in light of this.

But this view forces them into interpretive gymnastics that are really quite spectacular. Many full preterists will tell you, for instance, that they believe in the resurrection of the body. If you press them, however, you will discover that they define the resurrection of the body differently from the traditional orthodox definition. They believe that in 70 AD, the second advent occurred and the dead in Christ were raised, receiving their resurrection bodies. However, it is obvious to them and to us that the bodies of all Christians are still in the graves. Because of this, they are forced into claiming that the resurrection was invisible, and that although the bodies of Christians remained in the graves, they nevertheless received new spiritual bodies and ascended into heaven.

Because of this, what they actually believe in is a second embodiment, not a resurrection. In order to have a true bodily resurrection, the body must be revived and raised up from death. Since full preterists believe that the body remains in the grave, they do not truly believe in the resurrection of the body, despite the claims of some to the contrary.

They also teach that when Jesus returned in 70 AD, those Christians who were alive were changed when Jesus returned, and rose to meet him in the air only in a spiritual sense. According to full preterist Tyrone Cropper,  “The work of Christ was and is in the spiritual realm (Joh. 18:36). Therefore, the saints who were alive at the Lord's return in 70 A.D. were (changed) from the kingdom of darkness known as Judaism to the consummated kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ (Col. 1:13).” 

“The ‘rapture,’” Mr. Cropper writes, “ or being ‘caught up’ to meet the Lord in the air was Paul's way of describing the transition of those who were alive at Christ's return into the fullness of the new order without their having to pass first through physical death.”1

Other full preterists believe that when each believer dies, he receives his new spiritual body, but his physical body remains in the grave. However, in 1 Corinthians 15:54, Paul says  "So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, 'Death is swallowed up in victory'." What could Paul mean by "this corruptible" and "this mortal" but the fleshly body? He couldn't mean the spirit of a believer, because it is already incorruptible and immortal. He is indicating that when the resurrection occurs, God will transform the bodies of Christians in the graves and those who are alive into glorious spiritual bodies of touchable flesh and bone, just like Jesus’ resurrection body. 

This is borne out by  Romans 6:5: 

“For, if we have been made like him in his death, we will, in the same way, be like him in his coming to life again.” 

 In another article on this web site, All That Are in the Graves Shall Hear the Sound of His Voice, and Shall Come Forth,  Bill Grimes discusses the resurrection in more detail.

Full preterists have recently divided into two distinct camps regarding the resurrection, the Immortal Body Now (IBN) camp , and the Immortal Body at Death (IBD) camp.  The first group, incredibly, believes that Christians receive their immortal resurrection bodies at the moment of salvation. To claim that a body can be resurrected before it even dies adds a unique and novel twist to the meaning of the word. The other group believes that this happens at death. Preterism has demonstrated a willingness to tread theologically where few men have gone before.

One well organized  preterist organization  has coined a term for their form of  IBN preterism, Transmillennialism TM, and trademarked the term!

Some full preterists will also tell you that they believe in a visible return of Jesus. If you press them, however, you will find that they define this differently from what one might expect, too. Since no one in church history or secular history records that Jesus returned in 70 AD, they claim that on the one hand, the Second Advent was spiritual and invisible. On the other hand, however, they teach that it was visible in the sense that it was embodied physically in the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans.

To quote full preterist Todd Denis, “Preterism teaches that we are now in the new heavens and earth, and that not even enjoyed by most of the Apostles!” 2  However, it is obvious to full preterists and to us that we are not living in a physical new heavens and new earth. Because of this, they are forced into teaching that this and all such passages in both the Old and New Testaments must be interpreted spiritually. For instance, all unfulfilled prophesies regarding the nation of Israel are interpreted as applying to the new Israel, the church.

I’ve been asked the question,  “Does it really matter whether or not full preterism is correct? If the full preterists are right, we go to heaven, as long as we believe in Jesus. If the futurists are right, all who believe in Jesus go to heaven too. So what’s the point of debating it?”


Why Full Preterism Is Heretical

 Teachings that agree with the early creeds are called orthodox; those that don’t are called heterodox, or heretical. The creeds are simply statements of what  the church universal (which consists of all true believers in Christ) has historically judged to be sound doctrine. This was determined by a process not unlike that by which she judged which books constitute the canon of scripture. An appeal to the creeds is not a violation of sola scriptura, as some full preterists claim, because the creeds derive their authority from scripture, not apart from it. All creedal statements should be subject to scripture and tested by it. The creeds have in fact always been subject to the test of scripture, and they have stood that test for nearly 2000 years.  Now, in recent times, full preterists believe that we should discount the creeds in favor of their new and novel interpretation of scripture.

Because full preterism denies the resurrection of the flesh from the grave and a future, visible return of Christ, it fails both scriptural and creedal tests of orthodoxy and should be considered a very serious error. It is serious because it robs believers of the hope that God will bring an end to sin and death on this miserable planet. If the bodies of believers are left in the grave, then sin and death will reign indefinitely on earth. That does not represent complete victory over sin and death. When and not until the resurrection occurs, "then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory."

Partial preterists, on the other hand,  believe that Jesus returned in judgement on Israel in 70AD, but that there will be a future coming and resurrection of the body. Because of this, partial preterists are orthodox (not heterodox).  Many full preterists deem partial preterists unworthy of the name “preterist,” and prefer to call then “partial futurists.”

Many futurists and respected partial preterists believe that full preterism is heretical. (Please note that I do not necessarily consider adherence to a heresy to mark a heretic as a non-Christian, only adherence to heresies which deny doctrines necessary for salvation. I do not believe that most Full Preterists fall under this category. However, most Full Preterists do deny an important foundational doctrine, as I will explain below.) This contention that Full Preterism is heretical is based not only on the creeds, but also on scripture, especially the following two passages:

II Timothy 2:15 Give diligence to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth.
16 But shun profane babblings: for they will proceed further in ungodliness,
17 and their word will eat as doth a gangrene: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus;
18 men who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already, and overthrow the faith of some.

I Timothy 1:18 This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare;
19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:
20 Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.

 

Like full preterists, Hymenaeus and Philtetus taught that the resurrection had already occurred (for this reason, some refer to full preterists as Hymenaen preterists). Why did it matter so much to Paul that Hymenaeus and Philetus were teaching that the resurrection had already occurred? To begin with, these men were challenging what Hebrews 6:1 calls an elementary (or foundational) doctrine of the faith, the resurrection of the dead. The greek in Hebrews 6:1 literally reads "resurrection of dead ones", indicating that not only the resurrection of Christ, but also the universal resurrection of mankind, is a foundational doctrine of the faith. The foundational doctrines are those which define the very essence of Christianity. Those who deny foundational doctrines are, intentionally or unintentionally, undermining the faith.

Secondly, Hymenaeus and Philetus had overthrown the faith of some, and Paul was concerned that their teaching would do the same to others. How could such a teaching have overthrown someone’s faith? Perhaps because it was obvious that the bodies of supposedly "resurrected" Christians were still in their graves. That kind of a "resurrection" might have cast a doubt and shadow on scripture in the minds of some people.

Thirdly, full preterism can lead to what Michael Macon calls “a lazy virgin syndrome.” What need is there to keep one’s lamp filled with oil if the bridegroom has already come?

Naturally, some full preterists have endeavored to defend themselves from this association with Hymenaeus. Ed Stevens, a prominent full preterist, is among them. If the early church believed that the resurrection involved the resuscitation of mortal bodies, he reasons, why didn't Paul simply appeal to the fact that the bodies of men were still in their tombs? "Paul doesn't challenge their concept of the nature of the resurrection, but rather their timing of it." 6 

 Building on this argument, some full preterists claim that it is futurists who are actually guilty of Hymenaenism, because they are supposedly wrong about the timing of the resurrection!

In response to this, let's consider several important points. To begin with, since Hymenaeus and Philetus believed that the resurrection was past, the obvious fact that the bodies of Christians were still in the graves would have forced them to either deny a universal resurrection of all saints, or to deny the resurrection of the material body. Since their concept of the nature of the resurrection was derived from their timing of it, to challenge their concept of the timing of the resurrection was to also challenge their concept of the nature of the resurrection.

Secondly, Hymenaeus and Philetus may not have denied the resurrection of the body. They may have claimed that the raising of many saints along with Christ, described in Matthew 27:52-53, was the last resurrection:

And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after His resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

Teaching that this limited resurrection was the last resurrection could have overthrown the faith of some who were expecting a universal resurrection.

Thirdly, pointing out the obvious fact that bodies were still in the tombs would have had little effect on men who denied that the mortal body was going to be raised. They would have thought, "Well of course the mortal bodies of men are still in their tombs!" Nor is this likely to have been an effective argument to use on those who had been nearly persuaded by such men. It likely would have been futile for Paul to encourage Timothy to use this argument with Hymenaeus, Philetus, or those who had been bewitched by them.

Fourthly, there would have been no need for Paul to persuade Timothy of, or even point out to him the simple "bodies in the tombs" argument, since the young man was advanced in his faith, and this concerned an elementary Christian doctrine (Heb. 6:1).

Fifthly, Paul's failure to use the "bodies in the tombs" argument in his letters to Timothy is by no means an indication that he had not verbally used it to assure those Ephesians who had not fallen under the spell of Hymenaeanism. Rather, this may be an indication of precisely the opposite. Paul had already concluded the final act of church discipline with Hymenaeus by the time he wrote I Timothy, and Paul mentions this man in verse 1:20 only in passing. We don't know for certain what blasphemy Paul was referring to in I Timothy 1:20. It seems likely that it was the erroneous teaching that the resurrection had already occurred, since this is the only false doctrine mentioned in connection with Hymenaeus. This likelihood is further increased by the fact that Paul refers to this error as an example of "profane babblings" in 2 Timothy 2:15. The likelihood of this is strengthened even more by a look at NT usage of the Greek word blasphemos. Its meaning was not limited to speaking slanderously against a person. It could also refer to speaking evil (sometimes erroneously- see I Timothy 1:13) of a true doctrine or even of a place (Acts 6:13). If this error regarding the resurrection was the blasphemy Paul was referring to, there was no need to repeat the arguments against it, since Timothy would have already heard them in great detail when the case of the unrepentant Hymenaeus was presented to the church. Timothy would have also heard this argument in his personal conversations with Paul.

Lastly, in regard to the accusation that futurists are off regarding the timing of the resurrection, the Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 3:21:

" who will transform our body of humiliation, for it to be conformed to His body of glory, according to the working of His power, even to put all things under Himself." 

Paul's use of the singular word "body" here, despite the fact that it seems grammatically awkward, is evidence that he was referring to a corporate, simultaneous resurrection of the saints.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 also indicates a simultaneous corporate resurrection:

"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." 

The book of Revelation informs us of only one remaining bodily corporate resurrection of the saints, called the "first resurrection." There is no scriptural support at all for "one-at-a-time" bodily resurrections of the saints following the first resurrection, although there is support for one-at-a-time spiritual resurrections as each believer is saved. The bodily resurrection of the saints is to be a glorious corporate one, an awesome display of the magnificent power of our Lord.

And so the case of Hymenaeus is by no means an issue peripheral to Full Preterism. In fact, a Full Preterist admitted to me that "if" Full Preterists were wrong (and he did not believe that they were), the example of Hymenaeus and Philetus indicated that they were in serious error.

Let’s examine scriptural evidence which I believe indicates that the Full Preterists are indeed gravely mistaken (pardon the pun).

Since full preterists often build their teachings on the discourse described in Matthew 24, we will use that passage of scripture as our primary reference while we examine full preterism in light of scripture. However, since the last few verses of chapter 23 are pertinent as well, let’s back up a few verses and start there.


Jesus Foretells a Time When All of Israel Will Acknowledge Him


(The Lament Over Jerusalem)

Matthew 23:37  O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest they which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
38  Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.
39  For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that
cometh in the name of the Lord.


Question: If Christ’s second coming was the destruction of Jerusalem, using the Romans as his instrument, what motivation would the Jews in Jerusalem have had to make this statement during the siege and destruction of the city? Can you imagine the Jews of Jerusalem shouting, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” to Titus and the Roman soldiers as they destroyed Jerusalem, burned the temple, killed them, and carried the survivors off as slaves?

No, here Jesus is foretelling a time in which the inhabitants of Jerusalem will accept Him as the Messiah.


Other Scriptures Foretell a Time in Which All of Israel Will Be Saved

Related Passages:

 Zechariah 12:10  And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.
 11  In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in
the valley of Megiddon.

 Isaiah 45:17  But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.

Isaiah 45:25  In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.

Romans 11:26  And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the
Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:


Jesus Foretells The Destruction of the Temple
 Matthew 24:1 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple.
 2  And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.


Josephus records that Titus ordered his soldiers not to destroy the Temple. However, when  the Romans finally broke through the walls after a long and difficult siege, the rage of the soldiers towards the Jews and their lust for the treasures within the temple drove them to set it afire. All the while Titus shouted for them to stop. The heat of the fire caused the gold to melt and flow between the cracks of the stones. Later, in order to reach the gold, the stones were removed and the gold was scraped away. The wishes and desires of the most powerful rulers on earth cannot prevent the words of Jesus from finding fulfillment.


The Disciples Asked Jesus Not One, But Three Questions
 3  And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?


Notice that the disciples asked Jesus not one, but three questions:

Dr. Ray Summers, Chairman of the Department of Theology at Baylor University, wrote regarding this: 

The disciples’ question was related to the destruction of Jerusalem and to Jesus’ coming at the end of the world.  They asked the question in a way that indicated that in their minds the two events would be one; Jesus, however, answered in a way that indicated that they were in error and that the destruction of Jerusalem would be one thing and His coming at the end of the world would be another.  It is difficult to determine exactly where he stopped talking about one event and started talking about the other.  It appears, however, that in Matthew 24:29 to 25:46 the major emphasis was on His second coming.


A Critical Interpretive Error

When they find the words “you,” “us” and “we” in scripture, full preterists often make a serious interpretive error. They claim that these words must refer to those being addressed. For instance, they claim that since Jesus used the word “you” in this discourse, we should expect His words to find fulfillement during the lives of the disciples. However, we must take into consideration the fact that God, not man, is the author of scripture. Jesus knew that He was not speaking to the disciples alone. He knew that His words would be recorded as scripture and reverberate down through the centuries in the ears of every faithful Christian.

Full preterists are ignoring a common language device called the “editorial plural pronoun.” When it is used, a group of  people in general is being referred to rather than those being specifically addressed. The “editorial plural pronoun” does not always have to include those being addressed, as long as they are members of the group being referred to. For instance, when a history teacher tells her students, “We know that Jerusalem fell in 70 AD,” she does not mean that her students know this.

We may take great comfort in knowing that the words “we,” “you,” and “us” in scripture often refer to all believers down through the ages, and thus are applicable to each individual Christian.

We therefore conclude there is insufficient  reason to claim that the words of Jesus in Matthew 24 were intended for the 12 disciples only, or that all of these words had to find fulfillment in their lifetimes. As we read this passage, it is therefore important that we keep in mind that Jesus may be speaking to all believers, not just to his disciples.



Nine Things Which Must Happen Before Christ Returns

In reply to their three questions, Jesus told His disciples nine things which must happen  before the end comes.

Prerequisite #1: False Christs Will Deceive Many

4  And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
5  For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.


Preterists quote historical records of many false prophets as evidence that this prerequisite was fulfilled prior to 70 AD.  It is true that many false prophets arose before 70 AD. However, surviving early historical documents record no more than a  few who claimed to be the Christ, notably Simon Magus.  Since 70 AD, many false Christs have indeed arisen, especially in the last two centuries. If the current trend continues, in the future there will be even more.

Prerequisite #2: Wars and Rumors of Wars

 6  And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
7a  For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:


The casualties of war prior to 70 AD are paltry compared to the wars of this century. In WW II alone, 30 million people died!

Prerequisite #3: Famines, Pestilences, and Earthquakes

7b and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
 8  All these are the beginning of sorrows.


 Again, the deaths due to pestilences and famines prior to 70 AD cannot compare with those that have occurred in this century. 10 million peasants starved to death under Stalin. We are all aware of the tremendous devastation that has occurred in this century due to earthquakes, due to the modern trend of building multi-storey apartments and offices. Just recently, for instance, thousands died in Turkey alone due to a horrible earthquake.

Prerequisite #4: Worldwide Persecution

 
 9  Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.


Notice here that Jesus said we will be hated of ALL nations for His name’s sake. This did not happen prior to 70 AD, because there were geographic regions of the world that the gospel had not yet reached. However, these words of Jesus are nearing fulfillment. To quote the 1997 report of the Cardinal Mindszenty Foundation, "More Christians have been martyred for their faith in this century alone than in the previous nineteen centuries combined. More than followers of any other faith, Christians around the world are suffering brutal persecution."

According to an article in the December 23, 1998 issue of the Ottawa Citizen entitled "Persecution's Top-10 list, "Today Christians are routinely persecuted in about 40 countries around the world."

Prerequisite #6:WidespreadBetrayal

 10  And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.


Betrayal always occurs when there is persecution. History does not  record the persecution of Christians on the scale that it is occurring today.

Prerequisite #7: False Prophets Will Deceive Many

 11  And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.


Think of the multitudes that have been deceived by false religions since 70 AD! According to Adherants.com, an online service providing religious statistics, Sunni Islam claims 875 million adherants; the Jehovah’s Witnesses claim 12 million; the Mormons, 10,600,000; the Bahais 6,600,000; and the church of Scientology, 1 million.

Prerequisite #8: Widespread Iniquity and Lack of Love

 12  And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.


Full preterists quote a few Bible verses, such as Paul saying that no one stood with him in his trial, as evidence that the love of many grew cold before 70 AD. They also mention the terrible persecution of Nero. However, spurred on by the example of martyrs such as Paul, Christianity grew and blossomed until it eventually became the official religion of the Roman empire. Prior to 70 AD, we do not see the great apostasy which Thessalonians chapter 2 tells us must occur before Jesus returns. Instead, we see Christianity rapidly expanding.
 

  13  But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.


Prerequisite #9: The gospel must be preached to all nations.

 14  And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all
nations; and then shall the end come.


In Robertson’s Word Pictures, we read that this means the gospel must first be “Heralded in all the inhabited world.”



Was the Gospel Preached in All the World Before 70 AD?

Some full preterists argue that Jesus meant only all of the nations of the Roman world in Matthew 24:14. There is indeed good evidence that the gospel was preached to all of the nations of the Roman world before 70 AD. Since Jesus said that “the end will come,” once the gospel has been proclaimed in all the world, they argue that He must have returned in 70 A.D. We need to spend some time on this, because it is one of their key arguments.

In his omniscience, our God knew that there were civilizations and tribes of men on other continents who would not have the gospel preached to them until centuries later. If Jesus were speaking only of the Roman world, he could have easily expressed that thought in a much clearer fashion. Why did he not say, to all the nations of the Roman empire? Because Jesus says that the gospel will be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, to say that by this he meant only the nations of the Roman world is tantamount to implying that he was exaggerating.

To imply that our Lord, who is the God of truth, is given to exaggeration raises grave theological questions. If the Lord exaggerates, then how can all of scripture be profitable for reproof and correction from error?

The Greek word translated “world” here is oikoumene (pronounced oy-kou-men' -ay). Thayer’s defines it as:

 1) the inhabited earth
1a) the portion of the earth inhabited by the Greeks, in distinction from the lands of the barbarians
 1b) the Roman empire, all the subjects of the empire
 1c) the whole inhabited earth, the world
 1d) the inhabitants of the earth, men
 2) the universe, the world

 There are only four places in the entire New Testament in which it may be argued with any force that the meaning of  oikoumene  is limited in scope to the lands inhabited by the Romans or Greeks.  In all four cases, pagans, who are given to exaggeration and hyperbole, are being quoted. In  three of these instances, these pagans were claiming that the apostles had spread their teachings throughout the entire world. Here the  case is very weak that the speakers meant only the nations of the Roman world, because that would not have helped their arguments. Instead, the sense of “the entire world” was probably meant by the speakers, who were exaggerating for the sake of argument: “...these men that have turned the world upside down.” -  Acts 17:6. See also 19:27 and 24:5.

The only place in which a strong case may be made that oikoumenh means only the inhabited Roman world is Caesar’s decree that “all the world should be taxed.”  (Luke 2:1) Here, however, the words may have been spoken in imperial conceit and arrogance. (We should not consider this to be a surprising utterance from a man who often received praise beyond that which mere mortals should receive.)  In this case, the officers of Augustus would have known that they were not expected to carry out the decree beyond the confines of conquered Roman territories.

Those full preterists who accept the contention that Jesus does indeed mean the entire inhabited earth often argue on the basis of Collosians 1:23 that the gospel had been preached to every individual person in the world by the time this letter was written: “If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;” It is obvious, however, that the Apostle does not mean that every single individual human being on earth heard the gospel in his time (including the Maya, whom archeologists inform us began to build in South America by 200 BC), on the basis of  Matthew 10:23: “But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say to you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man shall have come.”

It is more likely that he means every kind of creature, i.e., Jews, Greeks and barbarians. Paul may also be referring here, as in Romans 10:17,  to the preaching of the stars in the heavens:
 

 7  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
 18  But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their
words unto the ends of the world.


Here he is quoting Psalm 19:1, and indicates that even the stars have a hand in the preaching of
the gospel:
 

 1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork.
 2  Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.
 3  There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.
 4  Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,


The gospel is not limited to proclaiming the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. It also includes the proclamation that God exists. Even the stars have a hand in this aspect of the preaching of the gospel. For example, in : Acts 17:23 we read, “For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I to you.” Modern missionaries often use the same technique. New Tribes, for instance, teaches tribes how to read from the book of Genesis before having them read from the gospels.

Lastly, we can positively conclude that Jesus has in mind here the entire world  because He says that “this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto ALL nations” The Greek word translated “nations” here is “ethnos.” According to Thayer, its primary meaning is that of a multitude associated or living together. As such, it indicates a tribe, nation, or people group:

[ 1) a multitude (whether of men or of beasts) associated or living together
 1a) a company, troop, swarm
 2) a multitude of individuals of the same nature or genus
 2a) the human family
 3) a tribe, nation, people group
 4) in the OT, foreign nations not worshipping the true God, pagans, Gentiles
 5) Paul uses the term for Gentile Christians

Have all of the people groups in the world been evangelized yet? No! A 1996 report to  the Southern Baptist Convention estimated that  there are  2, 347 unevangelized people groups left in the world.4 That amounts to 1.46 billion people, or 18% of the world’s population. Once thegospel has been preached to every tribe and people group of the world, THEN the end will come. We’ve still got a lot of work to do, but we’re getting closer!


Jesus Foretells Two Desolations Of Jerusalem

The As Yet Unfulfilled Desolation

 
 Matthew 24:15  When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
 16  Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
 17  Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:
 18  Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.
 19  And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
 20  But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day:
 21  For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
 22  And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.


Does the last verse seem to indicate that the whole human race will perish if those days are not shortened, or only the flesh of those living in Israel? Nero, whom full preterists believe to be the Antichrist, did not ever set anything up in the temple. Preterists point out that he set an idol up in the city, but the term “holy place” usually refers to the temple and it’s grounds in scripture.

Notice that the parallel passage in Mark reads almost exactly the same:

 Mark 13:14 ¶ But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the
prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that are in Judaea flee to the mountains:
 15  And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter it, to take any thing out of his house:
 16  And let him that is in the field not turn back again to take up his garment.
 17  But woe to them that are with child, and to them that nurse infants in those days!
 18  And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter.
 19  For in those days shall be affliction, such as hath not been from the beginning of the creation which God created to this time, neither shall be.
 20  And except the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.


Have greater genocides and tribulations happened since 70 AD? Yes! Six million Jews died in the Holocaust, 10 million peasants were intentionally starved to death under Stalin while he sold their grain to foreign countries in order to financially strengthen his regime, and  30  million died in World War II.  Half of those that died in WWII were civilians.

For the sake of clarification, I believe that we should call this tribulation that is never to be surpassed the “Greatest Tribulation” rather than the “Great Tribulation.”

Does God Use Hyperbole?

Since greater tribulations have occurred since 70 AD, some preterists allege that the Lord’s statement here should not be taken literally, but hyperbolically, on the basis of two statements made about Kings Hezekiah and Josiah.

In II Kings 18:5-6,  we read this statement regarding Hezekiah: “He trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him. For he clung to the LORD, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses."

And then later in I Kings 23: 25 we read regarding Josiah: “And like him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.”

These verses do not contradict one another. In verse six, we are told that Hezekiah excelled because he clung to the Lord, did not depart from following Him, and kept the commandments of Moses. Josiah, who excelled in following the laws of Moses too, is to be distinguished from Hezekiah in that although Hezekiah clung to the Lord, Josiah turned to the Lord with all of his being. In addition, each of them was dissimilar to the other in his unique combinations of personality traits, strengths and weaknesses. One man may be famous among cliff climbers because against all odds, he somehow managed to hold on to his rope for many days in a raging blizzard. Another may be famous among them because he swiftly climbs up his rope with all of his strength and energy. Of each, it may truly be said, there is no other climber like him!

Some full preterists also allege that the Lord was using hyperbole in Matthew on the basis of Jeremiah 30:7:

 

Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.
 8  For it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more bring him into subjection:


The puritan theologian John Gill believed that this passage points to the captivity which began in 70 AD. This was the beginning of “Jacob’s trouble,” which was an extremely long captivity.  It was distinguished from other captivities by it’s sheer length (1878 years) and by the multitude of various persecutions that accompanied it. Jacob was saved out of it in 1948, when Israel became a
nation once again. Since verse eight was not fulfilled until 1948, how can full preterists allege that all of scripture was fulfilled in AD 70?

Jesus tells us, however, that the Greatest Tribulation is to be distinguished from all others by the severity and magnitude of AFFLICTION that will accompany it, not by the length of any captivity that will result from it: “For in those days shall be affliction, such as hath not been from the beginning of the creation which God created to this time, neither shall be.” Indeed, Revelation
9:18 tells us, “By these three was the THIRD PART of men killed, by the fire, and by the smoke,and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths.” This may possibly refer to natural disasters or world war. At no time in recorded history has a third of the population of the world been destroyed! According to the International Programs Center, U.S. Bureau of the Census, the total population of the World, is currently (9/4/99) 6,010,023,638 persons. That would mean the death of over two billion people! What a terrible future  tribulation awaits the world when God pours out His wrath upon the wicked! Thank God that he will rescue his people from it, just as he rescued Noah and his family.

Notice, as we read Luke, that there is no mention of the abomination of desolation or of a tribulation never to be surpassed.

The Fulfilled Desolation

 
Luke 21: 20 ¶ And when ye shall see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that her desolation is near.
 21  Then let them who are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them who are in the midst of it depart from it; and let not them that are in the countries enter into it.
 22  For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
 23  But woe to them that are with child, and to them that nurse infants, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.
 24  And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled.


John Gill describes for us just how precisely the words of Jesus recorded here in Luke were fulfilled:
 By the edge of the sword; eleven hundred thousand were slain. Led away captive; ninety-seven thousand were carried into captivity. Trodden down; desolated, oppressed. This has been done successively by the Romans, Saracens, Mamulukes, Franks, and by the Turks who continue to exercise dominion over and oppress it. The times of the Gentiles be fulfilled; the times during which God has determined that the Gentiles shall tread down Jerusalem.   and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles; the Romans, who ploughed up the city and temple, and laid them level with the ground; and which spot has been ever since inhabited by such as were not Jews, as Turks and Papists: and so it will be, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled; that is, till the fulness of the Gentiles is brought in; until the Gospel is preached all over the world, and all God's elect are gathered in out of all nations; and then the Jews will be converted, and return to their own land, and rebuild and inhabit Jerusalem; but till that time, it will be as it has been, and
still is possessed by Gentiles.

Full Preterists teach that the phrase “ that all things which are written may be fulfilled” means that all of scripture was fulfilled in 70 AD. However, how could this be, when in verse 24 Jesus says, “and Jerusalem shall be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled”? We may correctly understand  Jesus’ words in this sense: These days of vengeance are AMONG those things that must happen for all things that are written to be fulfilled.



Six Reasons Why Matthew and Mark Write
Regarding a Future Tribulation, but Luke Writes Regarding 70 AD

I believe that in the verses we just read,  Matthew and Mark record Jesus’ words regarding a future desolation of Jerusalem and a future world-wide tribulation. This future desolation of Jerusalem was related to the abomination of desolation. Luke, however, is talking about the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The counsel to flee from Jerusalem applies to both desolations. I believe the Holy spirit providentially had the writers pen each in separate passages to avoid confusion. Let me explain to you six reasons why I believe this:

The first reason is because the prophet Zechariah  prophesied a future desolation of Jerusalem, in which half of the inhabitants would be allowed to remain in the city, just before Christ returns:
 

Zechariah 14:1 Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. 2 For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.


Here, Zechariah does not foretell a complete desolation of Jerusalem. However, in Book VII, Chapter I, Section 1 of The Wars of Jews, Josephus records that Titus completely destroyed the city of Jerusalem, except for the towers.  Also, the Jews were completely killed or deported from the city in AD 70, so this prophecy cannot apply to the desolation that occurred at that time.
Because Titus laid siege against Jerusalem during the feast of unleavened bread, multitudes of Jews were trapped within the city walls. Josephus records that I,100,00 died during the siege, and 97,000  were carried off as captives. Only those few who co-operated with the Romans were granted freedom, but they were not allowed to live within the desolated city, except perhaps temporarily as slaves and servants of the pillaging soldiers.

In chapter 47 of the first Apology of Justin, which was addressed to the Emperor Antony prior to AD 135, he writes regarding the desolation of Jerusalem in 70 AD, “and that no one should be permitted to inhabit it, there was the following prophecy by Isaiah:“Their land is desolate, their enemies consume it before them, and none of them shall dwell therein.” And that it is guarded by
you lest any one dwell in it, and that death is decreed against a Jew apprehended entering it, you know very well.”

Let’s read on in Zechariah regarding this future event:

3 Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. 4 And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the
north, and half of it toward the south. 5 And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.


The second, which we have already discussed, is because in Luke there is no mention of the greatest tribulation, but there is in Matthew and Mark.

The third is because Matthew and Mark both say, “ And except the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved.” Luke does not.

The fourth is because Matthew and Mark tie the desolation of Jerusalem to the abomination of desolation, but Luke does not.

The fifth is because Luke adds a phrase that is missing from the accounts in Matthew and Mark, “and Jerusalem shall be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled.” This means that when Jesus said, “this generation will not pass away until ALL of these things take place ,” he could not possibly have been referring only to the people living at the time he spoke these words, because the times of the Gentiles lasted at least until1967, when  Israel regained partial control of the old city of Jerusalem in the Six-Day War. Israel still does not have complete control of the temple mount area.  That’s at least 1897 years!

The sixth, which is important to my argument, has to do with the cause of the desolation of Jerusalem. In order to develop my point, we must take a fast and furious ride through scripture, but hang in there, because I believe it will be worth your while.


What Is the Nature of the Abomination of Desolation?

What does Jesus mean by the words, “the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel”? Does he mean that the abomination CAUSES the desolation, that the abomination IS the desolation, or that it is A PART OF the desolation? This is an important key to understanding this passage. Notice that the word “abomination,” as Jesus spoke it, is singular. There are only two places in Daniel in which the singular word “abomination” is associated with desolation. In each of them, it is the abomination that CAUSES the desolation:

 
Daniel 11:31  And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.

 Daniel 12:11  And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.


In Daniel 9:27, however, there is a similar verse. Here, however, the plural word “abominations” is used, and it is not singular, as Jesus used it.
 

Daniel 9:27  And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate. (AV)


Therefore, we conclude that Jesus was referring specifically to Daniel 11:31, Daniel 12:11, or both. This does not mean that Daniel 9:11 is not related to these passages, however. As we will see shortly, there is good reason to believe that it is. The important point to remember here, however, is that the “Abomination of Desolation” Jesus was referring to is called the “Abomination that MAKES desolate” in Daniel.

God Makes a Land Desolate For The Abominations of it’s People

In the two verses we are about to read, ask yourself, why does God say that He has, or is about to, make the land desolate?
 

Jeremiah 44:22  So that the LORD could no longer bear, because of the evil of your doings, and because of the abominations which ye have committed; therefore is your land a desolation, and an horror, and a curse, without an inhabitant, as at this day.

Ezekiel 33:29  Then shall they know that I am the LORD, when I have laid the land most desolate because of all their abominations which they have committed.

When God makes a land desolate, is it for the abominations of the conqueror who makes it desolate, or for the abominations of the people living in the land?

Conclusion: For the abomination of an outsider to make a land desolate, a significant portion of the people of the land must be co-operating with him! If most of them resist him, how could any sacrilege he commits be an abomination that causes the desolation of their land? When the abomination that makes desolate stands in the temple, this could only result in desolation if the people of the land are co-operating with him! In 70 AD, none of the Jews in Jerusalem co-operated with Titus! They fought against him to their deaths! Only a few surrendered, because they had taken rash vows not to surrender.

The Five 3 1/2 Year Passages

Notice, in the following verse, the mention of a covenant being confirmed for one week of years (7 years). Three and one-half years through this covenant, however, the daily sacrifices are stopped.
 

Daniel 9: 26  And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
 27  And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.


Note these other passages which refer to a 3 ½ year period in which God’s people are persecuted:
 

 Daniel 7:24  And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.
 25  And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.
 26  But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end.

Daniel 12:6  And one said to the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?
 7  And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.

 Daniel 12:9  And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.
 10  Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.
 11  And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. {3 ½ years plus 12 days}
 12  Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days. {45 days more}
 13  But go thou thy way till the end: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.
 

 Rev. 13:1 ¶ And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.
 2  And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his throne, and great authority.
 3  And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.
 4  And they worshiped the dragon which gave power to the beast: and they worshiped the beast, saying, Who is like the beast? who is able to make war with him?
 5  And there was given to him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given to him to continue forty and two months.
 6  And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
 7  And it was given to him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
 8  And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
 9  If any man hath an ear, let him hear.
 10  He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.


Although righteous Jews will protest the setting up of the abomination of desolation, verse eight indicates that most of them will co-operate: “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him.”

That is probably why the abomination MAKES desolation. To repeat, in 70 AD, most of the Jews in Jerusalem and in Israel did not co-operate with Titus! In fact, Josephus records that 1,300,000 died resisting him.


Does the The Man of Lawlessness Set
Up The Abomination of Desolation In The Temple?
 

I Thessalonians 2:1-4 may shed some additional light on what this abomination that causes desolation is:
1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
 2  That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
 3 ¶ Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
 4  Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.


In the above passage, what two things does scripture teach us must happen before Jesus comes and we are gathered together unto him? Answer: A falling away, and the revealing of the son of perdition.

Does this passage teach that the son of perdition is a man, many men, or an anti-Christ spirit of some kind?

What and Who Are Restraining The Man of Lawlessness?

Some full preterists have pointed out that in some translations, verse six, which we are just about to read, makes it sound as if the Antichrist is living during the time of the Thessalonians, and being actively restrained. However, a more literal translations of the original Greek takes away that illusion.

Before we read this verse in Young’s literal translation, note that the Greek verb translated “what is keeping down” in verse six is neuter. This means that whatever is preventing the man of lawlessness from being manifested is a thing. In verse seven, however, the restrainer is masculine, and is therefore a person, an angel, or God.

2 Thessalonians 2:6-7

Young's Literal translation reads,
 

5  Do ye not remember that, being yet with you, these things I said to you?
6  and now, what is keeping down ye have known, for his being revealed in his own time,
7  for the secret of the lawlessness doth already work, only he who is keeping down now will hinder --till he may be out of the way,


As we discussed, "what is keeping down" in verse 6 is a neuter verb, but "he who is keeping down"  in verse 7 is a masculine verb. It’s too bad we don't have Paul with us to tell us for certain who and what these restrainers are, as the Thessalonians did.

The masculine restrainer mentioned in verse seven was using some thing (a neuter force, circumstance, or condition) during the time of the Thessalonians as the means of restraint. The purpose behind this seems to have been to prevent other would-be antichrists from claiming the temple before Antichrist's time comes. This would have been necessary, because according to verse 7, the mystery of lawlessness was already at work. This fits in nicely with  "as ye have heard that Antichrist cometh, even now are there many antichrists" in 1 John 2:18. In fact, Josephus records that the Roman Emporer Caius tried to claim the temple and set up images within the temple in AD 40.

The Jews pleaded with Petronius, the Roman officer charged with carrying out Caius’s commands, and told him that the entire nation would fight to the death to prevent his orders from being carried out. Petronius agreed, at the risk of his own life, to petition the emperor on the Jews’ behalf. Enraged that Petronius had not speedily carried out his command, Caius replied with a very angry letter. While delivery of that letter was delayed by stormy seas, the wicked emperor died. As God was pleased should happen, news of the emperor’s death reached the noble Petronius before the letter did.

Some preterists have speculated that the “what” of Thessalonians 2:6 is the “Roman Government,” and the “who” of 2:7 is the Emperor Claudius, who was emperor of Rome when 2 Thessalonians was written. The one who is being restrained, they speculate, is Nero. Dr Kenneth Gentry, who is a partial preterist, comments "It may be that he(Paul) employs a word play on Claudius' name. The Latin word for " restraint" is claudere, which is similar to "Claudius." Such preterists say this view was held by the church fathers Tertullian, Irenaeus, Augustine, and Lactantius. We should mention at this point that there is no doubt that some of the church fathers held to partial preterist views. However, all of the Church Fathers looked forward to a future resurrection. None of them were full preterists.

As Dr. Leon Morris has pointed out, Nero was only a child when 2 Thessalonians was written, so it is doubtful that Nero was being restrained from getting his hands on the temple at that time. In fact, as a friend of mine pointed out, it may have been because Nero was not properly restrained by his parents that he turned out the way he did! II Thessalonians was written about A.D. 51 or 52. Nero would have been only 14 or 15 years old at that time.

In light of this, it seems more likely that the restraining force was the Jewish people, rather than the Roman government. The idea of the restraining force changing, but the masculine Restrainer staying the same, is supported by the fact that Paul does not use the neuter verb again in verse seven.

If the restrainer is an angel or the Holy Spirit, , at later times he might use other means of restraint (for instance, preventing the temple from being rebuilt). This might explain why the neuter verb is not used again in verse seven. Once He stops standing in the way, Antichrist will be revealed in his own time.

Our fast and furious ride through scripture has brought us to three significant conclusions: To begin with, the “abomination of desolation” is the called the “abomination that causes desolation” in Daniel.

Secondly, the abomination will be set up halfway through a seven year period of time associated with the confirmation of a covenant, perhaps the old covenant.

Thirdly, it seems likely that the abomination which will be set up in the temple is a throne on which the man of lawlessness will sit.

Now that we have a good idea of what the abomination of desolation is, let’s go back to Matthew 24:
 

 23  Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
 24  For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.


In Revelation chapter 13, verses 11 through 15, we are told just how great these great signs and wonders will be:

11 ¶ And I saw another beast coming up out of the earth. And it had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke like a dragon.
 12  And it exercises all the authority of the first beast before him, and causes the earth and those dwelling in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.
 13  And it does great wonders, so that it makes fire come down from the heaven onto the earth in the sight of men.
 14  And it deceives those dwelling on the earth, because of the miracles which were given to it to do before the beast, saying to those dwelling on the earth that they should make an image to the beast who had the wound by a sword and lived.
 15  And there was given to it to give a spirit to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might both speak, and might cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed.


History does not ever record the pathetic Emperor Nero, whom many full preterists believe to be the Antichrist, working wonders like this.


Every Eye Shall See Him

 25  Behold, I have told you before.
 26  Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.
 27  For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.


The Romans Came from the West, not from the East of Jerusalem.

Question: When lightning flashes in the east and is seen all the way over in the west, is it something only a few people are aware of, or is it visible to everyone who is outside to see it?

This indicates that the coming of Jesus will be visible to the eye from the east to the west. A flash of lightning is also sudden and instantaneous. This indicates that Christ will return suddenly.

The coming of soldiers on foot is not as sudden and instantaneous as lightening. There was an extended period of war, and the conflict was not instantaneously resolved. Jerusalem was held in siege for an extended period before the Romans finally broke through.

Where are all of the Christians who rejoiced and said, “Christ has returned!” in 70 AD? If Jesus returned then, where are the Christians and church fathers who were aware of it? Where are the Jews in Jerusalem who shouted, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” as Jesus said they would?

Supporting Passages:

 Revelation 1:7  Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

Acts 1:11  Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

 1 Thessalonians 4:17  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

 Philippians 2:11  And [that] every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ [is] Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

1 John 3:2  Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

 Jude 1:14  And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,


Judgement Associated With Christ's Return

28  For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.


This indicates that judgment will be poured out on mankind when Christ returns.


Are The Celestial Events Jesus Foretold Only Figurative?

 
 29  Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:


Parallel Passage:

 Luke 21:25  And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;
 Luke 21:26  Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.


There are passages in the O.T. of a similar nature that preterists quote to support their position that  the meaning of these words is figurative, symbolic, or hyperbolic. Let’s look at these to see if this is necessarily true.

 Ezekiel 32:1 And it came to pass in the twelfth year, in the twelfth month, in the first day of the month, that the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
 2  Son of man, take up a lamentation for Pharaoh king of Egypt, and say unto him, Thou art like a young lion of the nations, and thou art as a whale in the seas: and thou camest forth with thy rivers, and troubledst the waters with thy feet, and fouledst their rivers.
 3  Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will therefore spread out my net over thee with a company of many people; and they shall bring thee up in my net.
 4  Then will I leave thee upon the land, I will cast thee forth upon the open field, and will cause all the fowls of the heaven to remain upon thee, and I will fill the beasts of the whole earth with thee.
 5  And I will lay thy flesh upon the mountains, and fill the valleys with thy height.
 6  I will also water with thy blood the land wherein thou swimmest, even to the mountains; and the rivers shall be full of thee.
 7  And when I shall put thee out, I will cover the heaven, and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light.
8  All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee, and set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord GOD.

Question: What is the means by which the Lord will darken the sun, stars, and moon? Answer: With a cloud! This could simply have been a cloud of water vapor, but it was more likely a cloud of smoke from the burning of the towns, cites, and fields. I see no reason to believe that the Lord must be using hyperbole here! To demonstrate how this can happen, I quote a recent news article by Russell Sipe. “ A large brush fire between Anza and Rancho California burned 1100 acres on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend. While the Anza site was never in danger, flames could be seen on the hills west of Highway 371 and air tankers could be seen on the horizon fighting the fire through much of the afternoon. By late afternoon a thick cloud of smoke obscured the Sun and
rained ash over the site.” One of the  accompanying photographs was of a red midday sun. 3
 

 Isaiah 13:9 [Regarding Babylon]  Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.
 10  For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.
 11  And I will punish the WORLD for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.
 12  I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.
 13  Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger.


Notice in the above verse that God says, “and I will punish the WORLD for their evil.” Because of this, I do not believe the Lord was using hyperbole. The sense of it is that although God is judging Babylon now, he will judge all nations one day. In that day, “a man will be more precious than fine gold.” This is in line with Jesus’s statement that unless those days were shortened, no flesh should be saved. All nations are accountable to him.
 

 Joel 2:1 Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand;
 2  A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong [the Assyrians]; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.
 3  A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them....
 ...10  The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining:


Notice in verse three that we are told, “ A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness.”With that kind of burning, would we not expect the smoke to darken the sun, moon and stars?

Question: But what about Jesus’ statement that “the stars shall fall from heaven”? Surely you do not believe that the distant stars, which are actually suns vastly larger than the earth and are light years away, could fall to the earth?

Answer: Of course not. But these are not the only kinds of stars. Planets are also called stars.  In Bible times, asteroids and meteorites, when they fell, were called stars as well. Even today, we call them falling stars, or shooting stars.

In fact, the book of Revelation predicts that just such a “star,” or meteorite, will fall from heaven:
 

Revelation 8:10  And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;

 Revelation 8:11  And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died from the waters, because they were made bitter.

Revelation 6:13  And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.


Those who scoff at the idea of these passages finding  literal fulfillment should consider that in 1994, Comet Shoe-maker Levy blasted a crater in Jupiter large enough to contain two planets the size of Earth side by side! A quick glance at the moon through a pair of binoculars will demonstrate that our solar system contains many such asteroids, comets and meteorites.

In fact, scientists have documented more than 150 asteroid and large meteorite impact sites around the Earth. One of the largest of these, in the Gulf of Mexico, is 175 miles wide. Just recently, scientists have documented more than 200 NEO’s (near earth objects) that regularly intersect the Earth’s orbit. When the solar system was created, God wound the celestial clocks to sound their
alarms at exactly the times He has determined.

But what about Jesus’s statement that the “powers of the heavens will be shaken?”
It is quite conceivable that God may cause gravitational disturbances or instabilities in the heavenly bodies. He might do this by causing a large gravitational mass to pass through or near the solar system. There are other scriptures which indicate that the powers of heaven will be shaken as well.
Note the following:
 

Hag:2:6  For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land;

Hebrews 12: 26  Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.


If you read the context of Hebrews 12:26, you will see that it is not an apocalyptic passage!
 

 
 30  And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
 31  And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.


Question: How many of the tribes of the earth will mourn? Answer: All of them! How many of the tribes of the earth will see Jesus when he returns? Answer: All of them!

 
 Revelation 1:7  Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.


 According to the plain reading of this text, this gathering together of the elect will not be a geographically isolated event, but a global event!
 
 


Should We Burn the Creeds While Crying, “Sola Scriptura?”

Ephesians 4:11  And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
 12  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of
Christ:
 13  Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
 14  That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
 15  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even
Christ:


God gave us apostle’s, prophets, and teachers so that we would not be carried about by every wind of doctrine. How then could it be that in 70 AD Jesus returned, we were gathered together unto Him, and  the resurrection occurred, and none of the teachers living at that time or for over 1,500 years afterwards knew it ?

The creeds are valuable, because they tell us how the fathers of our faith interpreted the scriptures. As we mentioned earlier, teachings that agree with the creeds are called orthodox; those that don’t are called “heterodox.”

The reformers  cried “sola scriptura” against the traditions of the Roman Magesterium  that contradicted scripture, not against orthodox interpretations of scripture!

Andrew Sandlin wrote: “To assert or imply that the doctrines of the physical resurrection of Christ and of believers and the physical second Advent of Christ are subject to elimination on the grounds of the consistent employment of the dictum of sola scriptura is not, as it is often audaciously proposed, to pit Holy Scripture against “man-made” creeds, but rather to pit a modern understanding of Scripture against the understanding of Scripture by 2000 years of faithful believers in all Christian communions on matters at the very heart of the Christian Faith.

What do the three primary early creeds say regarding the Second Coming and the resurrection?

The Apostle's Creed

                    From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:
                    I believe in the Holy Ghost:
                    I believe in the holy catholic church: the communion of saints:
                    The forgiveness of sins:
                    The resurrection of the body:

The Athanasian Creed

                    From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
                    At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies;

The Nicene Creed

       and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose
                    kingdom shall have no end.
                    I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look
                    for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to
                    come. Amen.


What Does “This Generation” Mean?

Full preterists, as we have already discussed, believe that all of scripture was fulfilled in 70 AD, when Jerusalem was destroyed by Titus. They build this doctrine primarily on the statement of Jesus recorded in Matthew 24:34: “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” Because Jesus said this, they assert that the second advent must have happened  before the last member of the generation living when Jesus spoke these words died. A favorite statement among many full preterists is “time determines nature.” Since Jesus’ time statement is clear, they say, we must interpret the nature of last days events in light of this. However, we must not forget that Jesus spoke these words in the context of the previous two verses:
 

32 ¶ Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth`leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:
 33  So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
 34  Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
35  Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away


Now let's read the parallel passage in Luke:

 
 Luke 21:29: And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees;
 30  When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.
 31  So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.
 32  Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.
 33  Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.


Notice that in Matthew 24:35 and in Luke 21:33, Jesus said that “heaven and earth will pass away.” How, then, can full preterists  teach that all of scripture has been fulfilled, when this obviously has not happened? As we discussed before, when  Jesus said “till all these things be fulfilled,” that must include the fulfillment of the times of the gentiles. This forces us to conclude that Jesus could not have meant “generation“ in the sense of the people living at the time he spoke these words. Instead, He probably meant that at least one long-lived member of the generation He was talking about would survive until He comes.

Some claim that by these words, Jesus meant that He would return within a period of 38 years. The idea that a biblical generation is 38 years comes from De 1:35 and 2:14, which record that an entire adult generation of “men of war”passed away in thirty-eight years.   The Encyclopedia Britannica informs us that Jesus was born around 6 BC and died about AD 30. If the Britannica is right, that only adds up to AD 68, and falls 2 years short of 70 AD, when preterists believe Jesus returned! If Thayer is right, who believed that by NT times the span of a generation was only 30-33 years, then we fall further short of 70 AD by 7 to 10 years!
 

Let's take a moment and examine the definitions of the Greek word genea, which is translated "generation" in Matthew 24:34.  In Thayer’s Lexicon we find these definitions:

 1) fathered, birth, nativity
 2) that which has been begotten, men of the same stock, a family
 2a) the several ranks of natural descent, the successive members of a genealogy
 2b) metaph. a group of men very like each other in endowments, pursuits, character
 2b1) esp. in a bad sense, a perverse nation
 3) the whole multitude of men living at the same time
 4) an age (i.e. the time ordinarily occupied by each successive generation), a space of 30-33 years
 

Genea is not the only word we must take into careful consideration when interpreting this verse. We must not forget the accompanying word autay, translated "this." Outside of this discourse, there are only two other places in the entire New Testament in which the exact phrase genea autay, translated "this generation," is used. In each of them, genea may be understood as referring to Israel as a race, nation, or kind of men without any damage at all to the sensibility of the passage.  And so we see that it is quite possible that Jesus meant that the Jewish people would not pass away before all of these things happen.

However, in the King James Version, genea is translated "generation" thirty-seven times, "time" two times, "age" two times, and "nation" only one time.  Because of this, my preferred interpretation is that by “this generation” Jesus refers to the generation He is talking about, the “fig tree" generation of Matthew 24:32, rather than the generation He is talking to.

Citing greek authorities Thayer, Cremer, and Abbot-Smith, the Amplified Bible translates verses 32 and 33:
 

33,  So also when you see these signs all taken together coming to pass, you may know of a surety that He is near, at the very doors.
34 Truly, I tell you, this generation- that is, the whole multitude of people living at the same time in a definitegiven period- will not pass away until all these things taken together take place.


Most of the grammatical studies of verse 34 have concentrated on the word genea. In addition to this, I decided to study the greek word autay as well, and learned something very significant. A computer search revealed that the Greek word autay occurs 189 times in the New Testament. Normally, it follows a conjunction, verb, or pronoun. In only 18 of these instances does it immediately follow the noun that it refers to. This verse is one of them. Two more of these instances are in the parallel passages in Mark and Luke. In EVERY SINGLE ONE of the other 15 instances, autay is used to refer to a subject that attention has already been directed to! (You may find all of these verses in the appendix.)

This makes it highly unlikely that Jesus abruptly changed subjects and began speaking of the generation he was talking TO rather than the “fig tree” generation he was already talking ABOUT! The generation that Jesus is speaking of in the next verse is probably the one that sees these signs all taken together coming to pass! Of course, full preterists will say that Jesus was already
speaking of the present generation, so this does not rule out their interpretation. That’s true, but it gives a tremendous boost to the futurist argument. This means that the content of the previous verses should indicate to us whether or not Jesus was speaking of the present generation. And we have already presented many reasons to believe that Jesus was referring to a future generation in verses 32 and 33, rather than the one living living at the time.

I have had full preterists quote John 21:20-23 to me as "evidence" that Jesus must have returned before the Apostle John died. However, a careful examination of this passage actually reveals that the apostles probably did not expect Jesus to return within their lifetimes! In fact, this passage is damaging to full preterism.
 

John 21:20  Peter turned round and noticed the disciple whom Jesus loved following--the one who at the supper had leaned back on His breast and had asked, "Master, who is it that is betraying you?"
 21  On seeing him, Peter asked Jesus, "And, Master, what about him?"
 22  "If I desire him to remain till I come," replied Jesus, "what concern is that of yours? You, yourself, must follow me."
 23  Hence the report spread among the brethren that this disciple would never die. Yet Jesus did not say, "He is not to die," but, "If I desire him to remain till I come, what concern is that of yours?"
(WEY)


We must be careful not to read more into Jesus’s words than are here. Jesus did not say that John would live until He comes. Nor did He say that John would not die. He only said “IF I desire him to remain until I come, what concern is that of yours?” Church History records that John did in fact die. Now think about this. If the disciples expected that their physical bodies would still die after Jesus returned, then why did they think that John would not die? Obviously, they believed that all of those alive at the time of Christ’s return would never die! Given that fact, if they expected Jesus to return during their generation, they likely would have thought that many of them would not die! So why did the idea of John not dying seem so worthy of note to them? Could it be because they thought Jesus might not return until long after they themselves had died?

Another passage commonly used to support the idea that Jesus promised to return within the generation of his disciples is Matthew 16:28.
 

Matthew 16:28  Verily I say to you, There are some standing here, who shall not taste death, till they shall see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.
Note here, that He does not say “coming on the clouds of glory”, but says “coming in His kingdom.”  Many commentators take this to mean the presence of Jesus in the advance of the kingdom of God on earth. This idea seems to be supported by the parallel passage in Luke:
Luke 9:27  But I tell you truly, there are some standing here, who shall not taste death, till they see the kingdom of God.
Luke 17:20 ¶ And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:
21  Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

Romans 14:17  For the kingdom of God is not food and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.


The spiritual coming of Christ in His Kingdom precedes the future physical coming of Christ in His kingdom.

Even so, at least one of the disciples, John, may have seen Jesus return in a vision when He received the Revelation on the isle of Patmos before he died:
 

Revelation 19:11 ¶ And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.


 
In addition, after Jesus spoke these words, the disciples saw him make his triumphal entry into Jerusalem:

 

John 12:15  Fear not, daughter of Zion: behold, thy King COMETH, sitting on a donkey's colt.

 Luke 19:38  Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.


We have just looked at several possible interpretations of Matthew 24:34. All of these views are reasonable interpretations which honor the doctrine of the inerrancy of scripture. But let's also not forget the partial preterist interpretation that Jesus did return in in 70 AD to judge the nation of Israel, but this was not His Second Coming. Partial preterists, like all orthodox Christians, look forward to the second coming of Christ and the resurrection of the flesh. I am amazed that full preterists reject all of these interpretations in favor of a view that which forces them into contorted interpretations of so many plain statements of scripture. We will examine this more closely in the next chapter.


Another Serious Hermeneutic Problem With Full Preterism

After interpreting Matthew 24:34 to mean that Jesus must have returned within the generation of the disciples, full preterists use their interpretation to run rough-shod over many clear statements of scripture. They say that although the "resurrection" happened in 70 AD, the bodies of Christians were left in the grave.  They "spiritualize" all of the unfulfilled passages of scripture regarding the nation of Israel, and claim that these refer to the church, the "New Israel." They teach that the "old earth," which scripture says will pass away, is the Old Covenant. The new heavens and new earth , they say, is the New Covenant, and the "elements," which scripture says will burn with fervant heat when this happens, are the "elements of the law."

When they do this, they are using a hermeneutic technique similar to one that the Jehovah’s Witnesses use. Ecclesiastes 9:5 says that “the dead know nothing.” The Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that this is a clear statement of scripture. Therefore, they claim that all other passages which seem to affirm that man has an eternal spirit should not be taken at face value. They claim that since it is an interpretative principle that we must interpret clear statements by unclear statements, man must not have an eternal spirit.  Do you see how the full preterists are making a similar mistake with Matthew 24:34?

The patriarch Abraham demonstrates how we should regard two seemingly contradictory statements of God:

 Heb 11:17  By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,
 18  Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:
 19  Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from which also he received him in a figure.


When two clear statements of God seem to contradict one another, we must not affirm one and deny the other. Instead, like Abraham, we must seek an interpretation which affirms and harmonizes both statements. If we cannot, we should attribute this to our own limited understanding. It is better to affirm two seemingly contradictory statements of God than to use one to supposedly deny the other! Let God be true and every man a liar! The early Christians followed this interpretive principle, which is known as "the analogy of faith". How else could they have affirmed that God is three and yet one, and that Jesus is begotten, but had no beginning in time?

The fact that many full preterists have adopted the motto, “Time Determines Nature” demonstrates that they are violating this important interpretative principle! Many heresies have been started by men such as Arius, who refused to affirm two seemingly contradictory teachings of scripture.  An unwillingness  to say, “I don’t understand!” can produce a heretic!


No One Knows The Day Or The Hour

 
 36  But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
 37  But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
 38  For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark,
 39  And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
 40  Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
 41  Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
 42  Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.


Question: Is Jesus describing people going about peacetime work, or people going about war- time
preparations?

 
 43  But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief
would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken
up.
 44  Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
 45  Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his
household, to give them meat in due season?
 46  Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.
 47  Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods.
 48  But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;
 49  And shall begin to smite his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;
 50  The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an
hour that he is not aware of,
 51  And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall
be weeping and gnashing of teeth.


Verse 48 indicates that from a HUMAN perspective, the Lord may be long in coming!


Although The Early Believers Were Ready and Expectant
That The Lord Might Return Within Their Lifetimes,
This Does Not Mean That They Were Certain He Would Do So.

It is true that there are many verses which indicate that the disciples were watching for the Lord to come in their lifetimes. I believe that they were doing this simply in obedience to His command to be ready. In our day, many  are still obediently watching for Christ to come, with the expectancy that it could happen at any moment. The same expectancy existed in New Testament times, but we must not mistakenly call this  expectancy a certainty that he would return in their lifetimes.

The Master’s Long Journey

In fact, there are many passages which, like the one we just read,  indicate that from a human perspective, Jesus may be long in coming. Let’s look at some of these.

 
 Revelation 6:10  And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

James 5:7  Be patient therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receiveth the early and the latter rain.

Luke 20:9 ¶ Then he began to speak to the people this parable; A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it out to vinedressers, and went into a far country for a long time.

Luke 18:7  And shall not God avenge his own elect, who cry day and night to him, though he beareth long with them?

Mark 13:34  For the Son of man is as a man taking a long journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.

Matthew 25:5  While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.

Matthew 25:19  After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.

Hebrews 10:36  For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye may receive the promise.

Romans 11:25  For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part hath happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles shall be come in.


Like A Watch In the Night

Although Jesus taught through his parables that from a human perspective, it would be a long time until he returned, from the perspective of God and from our eternal perspective as sons and daughters of God who share in his nature and likeness, it will just be a watch in the night.
 

Psalms 90:4  For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.
Hebrews 10:37  For yet a little while, and he that is coming will come, and will not tarry.
Revelation 22:20 ¶ He who testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so,
come, Lord Jesus.


Why the Lord Is Not Slow Concerning His Promise

It is true that Jesus said that He would come quickly. It is also true that through His parables, He said he would tarry and be a long time in coming. Like Abraham, who, heeding two seemingly contradictory statements from God, reasoned that God would raise Isaac from the dead, we should in faith accept both as true. We should reason that there is both a human and an eternal perspective of time. We should believe our Lord’s promises even in the face of the scoffers that he said would surely come:
 

II Peter 3:3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
 4  And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.


Is full preterism really an effective reply for us to give these scoffers? Do you think that telling them the Lord has already come will shut them up? No! It will make things worse! Next, they will ask you, where are all of the things He said would happen when He came? Where is the lion laying down with the lamb? Where are all of the empty graves he talked about? Where is the rod of iron that He said He would rule the nations with? Why do the nations still make war, when He said that they would beat their swords into plowshares? Why didn’t every eye see Him come, as he said would happen? They will accuse you of believing in a myth, and point to obvious physical evidence to back up their accusations!

Regarding these scoffers, we read on:

 5  For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
 6  By which the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:
 7  But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved to fire for the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
While reading this passage, my friend Chuck Boyle noted: The Lord destroyed the "Old World" with water.  "REAL, WET WATER. Saving eight persons. The Lord says that he will destroy this "World" with fire. "REAL, BURNING FIRE."
And then we read:

8  But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
 9  The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.


Why does verse nine tell us the Lord is not slack concerning His promise? It is for three reasons: 

1) He counts slackness differently from the way some men count it, 

2) He is longsuffering towards us, and 

3) He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Consider the way that the Lord counts slackness. It is different from the way some men count it. Which method of counting slackness is Peter encouraging his readers to reckon time by: the Lord's method, or the method of these men?

When I was a boy, I helped my Dad till the soil to plant a tomato garden. It seemed to take forever for the plants to grow and blossom. Afterwards, when the little green tomatoes started to form where the yellow blossoms had been, it took a long time for them to grow and ripen. It was tempting to pick them before they were completely ripe, and I may have even done that with some of them, but of course Dad would not have been pleased with this.

Finally, the day came when some of them were ripe, and I could  pick them with Dad's blessing. Those plants were robbed of their tomatoes so quickly that they didn’t know what had hit them!

In the same way, when the fields of wheat are white unto harvest, our Father will know. He will recognize it when the grapes of wrath have grown dark and ripe. (As the late Christian singer Keith Green said in one of his songs, "Is it soup yet? No!") We must be patient until that time.
 

James 5:7  Be patient therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receiveth the early and the latter rain.


Then He will send His only begotten Son and His angels to collect each harvest, and there will be two harvests. No one but the Father knows that day or hour. But when it comes, we must be ready, because Jesus will return suddenly (i.e., quickly) and unexpectedly, like a thief in the night! It may happen in our lifetimes!
 

 Revelation 16:15  Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.


Full preterists tell us that because Revelation 1:1 says “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass;”  everything in the book of Revelation must have happened in John’s lifetime. But we must be careful not to add more to this verse than is there. This verse does not say that everything in the book will shortly come to pass. In fact, the 1912 Weymouth version translates this verse, “that He might make known to His servants CERTAIN EVENTS which must shortly come to pass.”   Young's Literal Translation reads:

Revelation 1:1 A revelation of Jesus Christ, that God gave to him, to shew to his servants what things it behoveth to come to pass quickly; and he did signify it, having sent through his messenger to his servant John,

If we jump to the conclusion that because of this verse, EVERYTHING in the book must have taken place within John’s generation, then we must cram the entire millennial reign of Christ into a space of less than 40 years! Preterists don’t like it when futurists defend their belief that Jesus has not yet come with 2 Peter 3:8, which teaches us that with the Lord, “a thousand years are as a day.” But concerning the millennium, the preterist's only defense is to likewise quote from the very same verse, “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years”!

Whether the millennial reign of Christ is meant to be taken symbolically or literally, one thing is certain: It means a very, very long period of time.

It is this author's conviction that in most NT passages, "quickly" describes HOW Jesus will return - with suddenness and surprise, like a thief in the night - not how soon he will return. See Surely I Come Quickly for more information regarding this.

Because of these things, we can confidently affirm the very last words written in the Bible:
 

“He who testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Footnotes

1.  http://www.preteristarchive.com/Quest/qa-1.html
2.http://www.preteristarchive.com/Preterism/fp-whatis.html
3.   Orange County Astronomers (http://web.archive.org/web/19991005002051/http://www.chapman.edu/oca/news_fire.html)
4.   http://web.archive.org/web/20020619100626/http://www.imb.org/missionaries/GlobalResearch/statuspp/tsld025.htm

5. Transmillennialism (tm) is a trademark of Living Presence Ministries. All rights reserved.
 
 6.Stevens, Stevens Response to Gentry (Bradford, PA: Kingdom Publications, 1997) p. 34-35.


Appendix

In Matthew 24:34, was Jesus referring to the generation He was talking about, or the generation He was talking to? Reading this verse in the context of the preceeding verses helps us to determine this:
 

Matthew 24:32 ¶ Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth`leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:
33  So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
34  Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
35  Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.


The context indicates that our Lord was referring to the generation He was talking about, for the following reasons:

1. Notice that in the above passage, each verse further reinforces the significance of the previous verse.  When "all" of these things are seen taking place, know that the time is near. So near, in fact, that the generation who sees these signs will not pass away until all of these things are fulfilled. Jesus then further drives home His point by stating the infallibility of His words.

2. Verse 34 begins with the greek word amen, meaning "truly". In the gospels, when Jesus began a statement with the word amen, it often further reinforced the meaning of the words He had just spoken. See, for instance, Mt 5:18, Mt 5:26, Mt 13:17, Mt 17:20, Lk 5:25, Jn 5:24, and Jn 16:20.

3.  Below I have quoted all 20 instances in the NT in which the Greek Word autay, meaning "this" immediately follows the noun it refers to. In each case, notice that attention has already been directed to the noun preceeding autay. This means it is likely that in Matthew 24:34, Jesus was referring to the generation he was already speaking of in the preceeding verses: the 'fig tree" generation which will see "all" of the remarkable events He has just described coming to pass.
 

Mark 8:12  kai {AND} anastenaxaj tw {HAVING GROANED} pneumati autou {IN HIS SPIRIT} legei {HE SAYS,} ti h {WHY} genea auth {THIS GENERATION} shmeion {A SIGN} epizhtei {SEEKS?} amhn {VERILY} legw {I SAY} umin ei {TO YOU,} doqhsetai th {IF THERE SHALL BE GIVEN} genea tauth {TO THIS GENERATION} shmeion {A SIGN.}

Mark 12:16  oi de {AND THEY} hnegkan {BROUGHT IT.} kai {AND} legei {HE SAYS} autoij {TO THEM,} tinoj h {WHOSE IS}eikwn auth {THIS IMAGE} kai {AND} h {THE} epigrafh oi {INSCRIPTION?} de {AND THEY} eipon {SAID} autw {TO HIM,} kaisaroj {CAESAR'S.}

Mark 12:43  kai {AND} proskalesamenoj touj {HAVING CALLED TO HIM} maqhtaj autou {HIS DISCIPLES} legei {HE SAYS} autoij {TO THEM,} amhn {VERILY} legw {I SAY} umin {TO YOU,} oti h {THAT}chra auth h {THIS WIDOW} ptwch {POOR} pleion {MORE} pantwn {THAN ALL} beblhken {HAS CAST IN} twn {OF THOSE} balontwn {CASTING} eij {INTO} to {THE} gazofulakion {TREASURY.}

Mark 13:30  amhn {VERILY} legw {I SAY} umin {TO YOU,} oti ou {THAT} mh {IN NO WISE} parelqh h {WILL HAVE PASSED AWAY} genea auth {THIS GENERATION,} mecrij ou {UNTIL} panta {ALL} tauta {THESE THINGS} genhtai {SHALL HAVE TAKEN PLACE.}

Mark 14:4  hsan de {AND WERE} tinej {SOME} aganaktountej {INDIGNANT} proj {WITHIN} eautouj {THEMSELVES,} kai {AND} legontej {SAYING,} eij {FOR} ti h {WHAT} apwleia auth {THIS WASTE} tou {OF THE} murou {OINTMENT} gegonen {HAS BEEN MADE?}

Luke 4:21  hrxato de {AND HE BEGAN} legein {TO SAY} proj {TO} autouj oti {THEM,} shmeron {TODAY} peplhrwtai h {IS FULFILLED}grafh auth{THIS SCRIPTURE} en toij {IN} wsin umwn {YOUR EARS.}

Luke 8:9  ephrwtwn de {AND ASKED} auton oi {HIM} maqhtai autou {HIS DISCIPLES,} legontej {SAYING,} tij {WHAT} eih h {MAY BE}parabolh auth {THIS PARABLE?}

Luke 11:29  twn de {BUT THE} oclwn {CROWDS} epaqroizomenwn {BEING THRONGED TOGETHER} hrxato {HE BEGAN} legein h {TO SAY,}genea{GENERATION}auth{THIS} ponhra {WICKED} estin {IS;} shmeion {A SIGN} epizhtei {IT SEEKS AFTER,} kai {AND} shmeion {A SIGN} ou {NOT} doqhsetai {SHALL BE GIVEN} auth ei {TO IT} mh {EXCEPT} to {THE} shmeion {SIGN} iwna {OF JONAH} tou {THE} profhtou {PROPHET.}

   Luke 21:3  kai {AND} eipen {HE SAID,} alhqwj {OF A TRUTH} legw {I SAY} umin {TO YOU,} oti h {THAT} chra h {WIDOW} ptwch {POOR}auth{THIS} pleion {MORE} pantwn {THAN ALL} ebalen {CAST IN;}

Luke 21:32  amhn {VERILY} legw {I SAY} umin {TO YOU,} oti ou {THAT} mh {IN NO WISE} parelqh h {WILL HAVE PASSED AWAY} genea auth {THIS GENERATION} ewj an {UNTIL} panta {ALL} genhtai {SHALL HAVE TAKEN PLACE.}

Acts 9:36  en {AND IN} iopph de {JOPPA} tij {A CERTAIN} hn {WAS}  maqhtria {DISCIPLE,} onomati {BY NAME} tabiqa {TABITHA,} h {WHICH} diermhneuomenh {BEING INTERPRETED} legetai {IS CALLED} dorkaj{DORCAS,}auth{SHE} hn {WAS} plhrhj {FULL} agaqwn {OF GOOD} ergwn {WORKS} kai {AND} elehmosunwn {OF ALMS} wn {WHICH} epoiei {SHE DID.}

1 Corinthians 11:15  gunh {A WOMAN} de {BUT} ean {IF} koma {HAVE LONG HAIR,}doxa{GLORY}auth{TO HER} estin {IT IS;} oti {FOR} h {THE} komh {LONG HAIR} anti {INSTEAD} peribolaiou {OF A COVERING} dedotai {IS GIVEN} auth {TO HER.}

 2 Corinthians 2:6  ikanon {SUFFICIENT} tw toioutw {TO SUCH A ONE IS} h epitimia auth {THIS REBUKE} h {WHICH IS} upo {BY} twn {THE} pleionwn {GREATER PART;}

 Ephesians 3:8  emoi {TO ME,} tw {THE} elacistoterw {LESS THAN THE LEAST} pantwn {OF ALL} twn {THE} agiwn {SAINTS,} edoqh {WAS GIVEN} h carij auth{THIS GRACE,} en {AMONG} toij {THE} eqnesin {NATIONS} euaggelisasqai {TO ANNOUNCE THE GLAD TIDINGS} ton {THE} anexicniaston {UNSEARCHABLE} plouton {RICHES} tou {OF THE} cristou {CHRIST,}

Titus 1:13  h marturia auth {THIS TESTIMONY} estin {IS} alhqhj {TRUE;} di {FOR} hn {WHICH} aitian {CAUSE} elegce {CONVICT} autouj {THEM} apotomwj {WITH SEVERITY,} ina {THAT} ugiainwsin {THEY MAY BE SOUND} en {IN} th {THE} pistei {FAITH,}
 
 


1999, 2010 Marshall "Rusty" E. Entrekin.  All rights reserved.  The contents of this article may be reproduced for free distribution provided no changes are made to the contents and the URL to this website is provided.  Quotations must be referenced by the URL to this website.  No other use shall be permitted without written permission from the author.

 

Rusty Entrekin is a theology graduate of Louisiana College. He and his wife Julie have seven children, with four still at home, and four grandchildren. Currently, he resides in Kennesaw, GA. He writes apologetic and theological articles to help people come to know Christ and grow closer to the Lord. If this article has blessed you, and you would like to free him up to write more, you may make a donation below.

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