A Response to Some Arguments Made Against Preterism @
These are THE SHORT ANSWERS to the arguments proffered against Preterism – the intention here is only to allow the reader to recognize that Preterism does in fact offer a SOUND and REASONABLE interpretation of the Bible. All of the answers given here are aptly supported by Scripture itself.
Preterism is utterly dependent upon the Holy Scriptures – especially the O.T. Prophets. ***Please closely examine ALL Scripture references given as this is THE KEY to rightly understanding the Preterist perspective.
There are many excellent resources available for those who wish to investigate further – some of which I list at the end of this article.
The Article (My Responses are in Blue)
“Full Preterists insist that “Jesus” returned “in spirit” in 70 AD and nothing is future. “We’re in “the New Heavens and New Earth” right now and Satan is bound!”
Jesus’ “return” (Parousia) was a visitation of divine judgement upon first century apostate Israel. He resurrected and raptured His saints (an invisible event) just as He promised He would. Just because WE did not witness these events does not mean they did not occur. If Jesus has NOT yet returned to gather His saints – where then have those first century saints BEEN for the last 2,000 years? (John 14:1-4)
The term “Heavens and Earth” (H&E) is a Hebraism (a poetic metaphor) describing the covenant relationship between God (“Heavens”) and His covenant people, Israel (“Earth”/Promised-Land). The Jewish Historian Josephus tells us this in his first century writings – as well as the Bible itself – (Isa 1:1; 51:16-17; Jer 4:23ff; Matthew 5:17-18; 24:35; 2 Pet 3; Rev 20:11).
When the NT speaks of the H&E “passing away” it is speaking of the Old Covenant System, the Mosaic economy coming to an end – the “END OF THE AGE” (Mt 24:3 – that is the only “END” the N.T. is concerned with (1 Cor 7:31; 10:11; Heb 9:26 etc).
The word “Satan” in the Bible simply refers to any human “ADVERSARY” of God – (an opposser). It is VERY difficult for many Christians to get away from the “invisible demon king of the netherworld” view of Satan/the Devil – but a deep examination of Scripture will show that no such creature is ever being spoken of – although a cursory reading and understanding of the Bible makes it SEEM that way.
Although it may seem bizarre and even heretical at first – after MUCH study – it is my contention that “Satan” and “The Devil” in the N.T. is Hebrew “code language” for the apostate Jewish Hierarchy (High Priest, Sanhedrin, Priesthood etc) which had basically become a PAGAN entity that plagued the ministry of Jesus and His apostles. That is why “Satan was defeated” (Mt 3:7; 12:34; 2 Cor 12:7; Eph 6:12 etc) The entire book of Revelation is about the defeat of this apostate enemy.
Before dismissing this as INSANITY – PLEASE read my articles below…
“But to both full and partial Preterists, hardly anything is taken literally; mostly all is allegorical or symbolic, particularly the Book of Revelation.”
Very few Bible scholars would argue that the Book of Revelation is NOT “allegorical” or “symbolic” – much like the rest of the Bible. Consider the writings of the Hebrew Prophets – they are chock full of metaphor – take 2 Sam 22 as one example – did God really surf down from Heaven through the clouds on the back of an angel, shooting lightening bolts out of His bow in order to deliver David from the wicked King Saul? In actuality – King Saul committed suicide on a battlefield. Jesus’ PARABLES are ALL ALLEGORY.
Does Jesus literally “hold lamp-stands and stars in His hands?” Of course not – He Himself tells us that these were “SYMBOLS” in Rev 1:20.
Is Jesus “literally” a lamb or a lion sitting on a chair in the heavens (Rev 6)?
Are war, famine death and Hades literally beings who “ride horses”? Or were these symbolic representations of “events”? (Rev 6)
Can a woman literally “clothe herself with the sun, moon and stars” (Rev 12)?
Does a woman actually “ride a beast with 7 heads” (Rev 17)?
When Jesus offered the woman at the well “the water of life” – we all agree He was not offering her H20 but the new birth – WHY THEN when we come to Revelation 22:1 must “the river of life” all of a sudden be viewed as a literal body of water? If that were true – then maybe Jesus was talking to the woman at the well about actual water also?
Of course not.
It is the same with “the Tree of Life”, “the Lake of Fire” and the land and sea “beasts” etc. etc. These are ALL divine ALLEGORICAL visions given to an ancient Hebrew Prophet (John) just like they were given to ALL the Hebrew Prophets (Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Daniel etc). The book of Revelation was no more to be taken “LITERALLY” than was Ezekiel’s vision of “wheels within wheels” – are there “wheels with eyes” in Heaven or stairways leading from earth to Heaven that the angels have to LITERALLY walk up and down on?
The careful Bible student will note that the very OPENING VERSE of the Book of Revelation informs us that it is a book of “SIGNS/SYMBOLS”…
Revelation 1:1 – “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must SOON take place; and He sent and communicated it (lit. “signified” – ?σήμανεν – “communicated in signs”) by His angel to His bond-servant John.”
Much like Bunyan’s ‘Pilgrims Progress‘ or Lewis’ ‘Narnia Chronicles’ – The Book of Revelation is an ALLEGORY describing in picture language the actual historical events of the fall of apostate Israel in the first century AD.
“To Preterists, the Olivet Discourse is not about the coming of Messiah, but about the destruction of Jerusalem.“
These events coincided; they were synchronous. The Olivet discourse is indeed speaking of an ancient “END OF AN AGE”. Mt 24:1-3 is the SETTING of the entire discourse to follow – these opening verses are asking the very questions that Jesus is answering throughout the entire sermon. The destruction of that ancient HERODIAN temple (which was the ‘headquarters‘ of the O.T. Covenant Judaism) is the very THEME of Jesus’ message to those first century JEWS to whom He was actually speaking. Notice that Jesus’ first century disciples EQUATED the destruction of THAT HERODIAN Temple with the “SECOND COMING“ of Jesus and the “END OF THE AGE“ (Mt 24:3). The CONTEXT of the sermon is not the end of planet Earth but the end of the Mosaic age – Jer 31:31ff.
Words like “WORLD” must be understood in the original language as well as the original context in which they were used. Also, HOW a word is USED is vital. In the N.T. “world” does NOT mean “PLANET EARTH” but the covenant world of Israel. Now, just in case you think I’ve lost my marbles – here are just a few passages that validate this claim (Luke 2:1; 1 Cor 7:31; Jn 12: 19; 18:19-20).
If the “end of the age/world (KJV)” has NOT YET OCCURRED – how then could Jesus have been “crucified at the end of the age” – (Heb 9:26)???
Please read this…
“Revelation was not written in 95 AD but much earlier according to full and partial Preterists….“
IMHO, the LATE DATE argument for the writing of the Book of Revelation (based upon a single controversial quote from early church father Iraneus) has been put to rest long ago and emphatically – all other quotes from the early church fathers are based upon thisquestionable Iraneus quote – hardly damning evidence…
“Some Preterist teachings include the following:
Nero was the Antichrist and the False Prophet was the leadership of apostate Israel who rejected Messiah and worshipped instead the Roman Empire (who tormented them and then slaughtered them). Nero’s persecutions were limited to Rome, not the whole world.“
True. Doesn’t this just make perfect sense based upon Daniel’s “FOUR BEASTS” (4 pagan nations that would rule over national Israel). 1. Babylon 2. Medes 3. Greece and 4. Rome – Nero was the Emperor of Imperial Rome AT THE VERY TIME Rome destroyed National Israel!! Nero initiated the persecution of the church as well as the Siege on Israel.
Now what makes more sense? That the 4th Beast (Rome) actually followed the other three Beasts in historical succession, and that the END prophesied to take place under that 4th Beast actually occurred AT THE TIME of the 4th Beasts reign – OR…that it is all referring to some YET FUTUREworld leader and global Armageddon? ALL of the prior BEASTS and the events surrounding them as described in the Book of Daniel centered around ancient national ISRAEL – not the entire population of planet earth.
So much more to say that is proof positive for the preterist perspective – Here is just one mind blower…
In Mt 24:15-16 Jesus tells His FIRST CENTURY disciples to “flee“ when THEY SAW (with their own eyeballs) the “abomination that would bring desolation” – which the Hebrew Prophet Daniel wrote about.
Now doesn’t that just make perfect sense?!?!?
Daniel said “the Abomination“ would take place during the reign of the FOURTH BEAST – Jesus and His disciples were actually LIVING DURING THAT TIME – and lo and behold – Jesus tells THOSE LIVING PEOPLE that the abomination that Daniel spoke about WAS ABOUT TO OCCUR IN THEIR LIFETIME (Mt 24:34; 1 Cor 10:11; Rev 1:1).
Now what makes MORE SENSE to you – the above – or the notion that Jesus was actually telling those ancient Jews about the far distant END OF PLANET EARTH – even though THEIR QUESTION TO HIM was about the destruction of the ancient HERODIAN Temple that they had just walked out of. AND…is it coincidence that THAT VERY TEMPLE COMPLEX was in factleveled by the ROMAN ARMIES in Aug of 70 AD?? It was the FOURTH BEAST that destroyed the temple – Just like Daniel prophesied.
Why are we compelled to make this into something ELSE??
Now, just so there is no mistake – in Luke‘s version of the Olivet Discourse – Jesus actually tells us what THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION IS…
Matthew 24:15 – “Therefore when you (those to whom Jesus was actually speaking – not US) see (with your own eyeballs) the ABOMINATION that brings desolation (destruction) which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, positioned in the holy place (Jerusalem) 16 then those who are in Judea must FLEE TO THE MOUNTAINS.”
Luke 21:20-21 – “But when YOU see Jerusalem SURROUNDED BY ARMIES (ROME!!!!), then recognize that her DESOLATION is near. 21 Then those who are in Judea must FLEE TO THE MOUNTAINS, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city (Jerusalem).”
Did you catch it?? The Abomination that brought desolation WAS the destruction of the Hebrew Temple and Holy City by Imperial Rome. In both cases- Jesus tells them to “FLEE TO THE MOUNTAINS“ when they witnessed the armies moving in or the abomination of desolation – the Pagan Rome attacking God’s Holy Land and People. This is all corroborated by Daniel 9; The Book of Revelation and the writing of first century historian Flavius Josephus.
“Preterists teach that Matthew 24 and the book of Revelation are all fulfilled. The destruction of Jerusalem was “the Great Tribulation” along with the persecution of believers.“
This is exactly right and that is why the Apostle John Himself OPENS The Book of Revelation by telling his fellow “persecuted“ disciples that HE TOO was suffering WITH THEM in “THE TRIBULATION” that was actually occurringAT THAT TIME. This tribulation is the WHO, WHAT, WHY, WHEN and HOW of the Book of Revelation…
Revelation 1:9 – “I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in ‘THE TRIBULATION’ and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.”
This is WHY John could also say that the time approaching “the end” HAD GOTTEN ‘SHORTER‘ IN HIS OWN LIFETIME…
1 John 2:18 – “Children, it is (currently) THE LAST HOUR; and just as you heard that Antichrist will be coming, even NOW (in the first century) many Antichrists have already appeared; from this we KNOW (are certain) that it is (definitive) THE LAST HOUR.”
It had moved from the LAST “DAYS” to the LAST “HOUR” IN THE FIRST CENTURY! The time was getting shorter – not longer. This just dovetails perfectly with EVERYTHING ELSE concerning the END TIMES in the whole of the NT. It was a HEBREW (not a global) ESCHATOLOGY (i.e. the Last Days of the Old covenant System – Jer 31:31ff)
In Mt 24:33 Jesus told His first century disciples that when “THEY SAW“ all these things – that THEY were to be certain the Jesus Himself (the Judge over Israel) was “standing right at the door“ (i.e. about to step into the courtroom and judge His people…
Mt 25:31-46 – “When you see all these things, recognize that He is near, RIGHT AT THE DOOR.”
Are Preterists actually teaching that this judgment happened already??Let’s allow James to answer that – James – writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit – wrote this (some 25 years after Jesus spoke those words) to the first century Christians…
James 5:8-9 – “You too (those to whom he was writing – not you and me) be patient (they were undergoing tribulation); strengthen your hearts, BECAUSE THE COMING OF THE LORD IS NEAR. 9 So, do not complain against one another, so that you yourselves may not be JUDGED; Look! THE JUDGE IS (now) STANDING AT THE DOOR.”
James says that what Jesus said to look out for – was now just around the corner – this jives perfectly with John saying it had moved from the last DAY to the last HOUR – time was getting shorter for THEM.
Also – what sense did it make for James to tell those first century Jewish Christians to BE PATIENT and STRENGTHEN THEIR HEARTS BECAUSE THE LORD IS NEAR – if in fact – He was NOT NEAR? Was James – writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit – in error?
Of course not. It all makes perfect sense when viewed in its natural context – the approaching first century DESTRUCTION of apostate Judaism – which was in fact annihilated and had NEVER RETURNED.
These things only become complicated when we rip them from their original context and seek to cram them into the modern era. This is precisely WHY Jesus NEVER COMES BACK TO US.
You must decide what you will do with these passages.
“Preterism makes one wonder how they justify Matthew 24:21 which states that the period after the “Antichrist” signs a seven-year peace treaty with Israel will be the worst time in all of history? Many scenarios since 70 AD have been far worse than the destruction of 70 AD, including World War II.“
Matthew 24:21 – “For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of THE WORLD until now, nor ever will.”
Again – Remember what I wrote earlier about the word “world” referring to the COVENANT WORLD OF ANCIENT JUDAISM. Jesus was simply telling his first century JEWISH disciples that what was about to happen to their nation and covenant system, families, etc. would be the worst event in the history of the Hebrew peoples. Context is King. Jesus was speaking to ancient Jews about ancient events that were prophesied in the ancient Hebrew writings to happen to an ancient Jewish nation.
The Olivet Discourse had nothing to do with 21st century Americans or anyone else except THOSE TO WHOM IT WAS ACTUALLY SPOKEN.
“ALL NATIONS” of the world did not come against Jerusalem in 70 AD…only Rome. All nations coming against her are to be destroyed….“
I assume the author is referring to Zech 14:2…
Zechariah 14:2 – “For I will gather ‘ALL THE NATIONS’ against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city.”
Firstly, has the questioner considered the abundant references to ANCIENT WARFARE and ANCIENT LIVING listed in Zech 14?? Gold and silver as currency, horses, camels and donkeys, chariots, swords, bows and arrows as weapons of warfare, clay cooking pots and Canaanites in the land etc etc??
Is it reasonable to suppose that our modern nations (or future nation) be reverting back to wooden weaponry – “spears, swords and horse driven chariots, etc.” in the near future?
Zech 14 is describing the Roman-Jewish war of the first century AD – and “the nations” that were gathered against Jerusalem were the the Roman armies – the word translated nations (hag·g?·w·yim) in the Hebrew is better translated “THE GENTILES” – the pagans – the non-covenant peoples….
“For I will gather ‘THE WHOLE OF THE GENTILES’ against Jerusalem to battle,“
Now, no matter what we make of this particular passage – I don’t know of ANY Christian who believes and teaches that EVERY NATION IN THE ENTIRE WORLD would or will attack Jerusalem at the time of the end. Right? So taking this verse at ‘face value’ is risky business no matter what side you come down on.
Notice also that in Zech 14:5 it is said the “the Remnant” of Israel would “FLEE TO THE WILDERNESS” during the battle – this is exactly what Jesus told His first century disciples to do when THEY SAW the armies surrounding Jerusalem (Mt 24:15).
As far as Jesus “standing on and splitting the Mt of Olives” etc – there is much of this type of ‘poetic imagery’ of God leaving Heaven and standing in the Holy Land (Ezek 11:23; Isa 64:1-2 etc). Zech 14:1-6 is poetic imagery of God drawing a line between the unrighteous apostates and the righteous remnant of Israel – Notice Zech 14:6 sounds just like the many other battles of the O.T. period when “the celestial luminaries burnt out” and the mountains were saturated with Blood and the springs of the seas burst open etc. etc. – Isa 13:9-10; 34: Jer 4:23 ff; Ezek 32:7-8 etc)
So much more to be said about Zech 12-14 – please read this article…
“Preterists believe we are now living in the “Kingdom of Christ” and have been since the days of the early church.”
Of course we are living in the Kingdom of Christ – the kingdom is the church and Christians have been “living in it” since the first century…
“And now, behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will no longer see my face.” (Acts 20:25 NASB)
“…for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17 NASB)
“For He has (past tense) rescued us from the kingdom of darkness (apostate Judaism), and transferred us (past tense) to THE KINGDOM OF HIS BELOVED SON…”(Colossians 1:13)
Rev 1:9 “I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and ‘KINGDOM’ and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.”
How could THEY be living in the Kingdom in the first century if it HASNT YET ARRIVED??
Jesus said His kingdom was INVISIBLE – not brick-and-mortar like ancient Israel (temple, etc) – Luke 17:20-21; Eph 2!! Therefore – what we read about in Revelation 21-22 is not a literal brick-and-mortar kingdom but a metaphor for the church.
Please listen to this audio series…
“Preterists see Satan as bound….Never mind that the earth is reeling with sorrow, pain, disasters, and godless governments under Communism and radical Islam. More than 50 million believers have died since 70 AD and there have been 15,000 wars – so how can this possibly be “the Kingdom of Christ?”
Many Preterists have a fundamental difference of interpretation when it come to understanding the WHO & WHAT of “Satan” in the Bible. In the O.T. Scriptures the ENEMIES of God’s covenant peoples are often referred to as “SERPENTS, LEVIATHANS, SEA MONSTERS, SNAKES, BEASTS”, etc. The reason for this should be obvious since these surrounding gentile nations “poisoned” God’s people (Israel) with their pagan ways and “devoured” (conquered and enslaved) them (Babylon – Isa 14:29; 27:1ff; Jer 8:17; 46:22 (Egypt); 51:34 etc. )
Satan being “BOUND” in Rev 20 is nothing more than allegorical language for the apostate Jewish hierarchy (“the adversary)” being RESTRICTED (“Bound”) from persecuting the church of Christ under the Religio Licentia (Christians had freedom to practice their religion) of Claudius Caesar before Nero’s reign began when “Satan was loosed” to persecute – torture and murder Christians.
Israel had grown so wicked that they actually became like their own pagan enemies! This is WHY they are referred to in the Book of Revelation as “Egypt”, “Sodom”, “the Land Beast”, “Gog & Magog”, etc. – these were the ancient enemies that plagued Israel – and in the first century – covenant, Biblical Israel had become their own worst enemy and God was bound to destroy them once for all.
Also – does anyone suspect that the “CHAIN” that “bound” the Serpent was a LITERAL METAL CHAIN? Was the “KEY” a literal metal key? “No!” we say, “That’s obviously allegory – How could a Spirit being be restricted with metal chains?! ”
OK – Why then do we suppose that the serpent itself must be a literal creature when the rest is allegorical? Which is it? What gives us the license to pick and choose what is literal and what is allegorical? For my money, if the BULK of the Book of Revelation is allegorical (and it is) then somethings should only be taken as literal if the context demands it – like John being on the literal island of Patmos, etc.
Remember, these are the SHORT answers.
Of course, this begs the obvious question, “What about the 1,000 years of Rev 20?” – Have you studied the number 1,000 in the Bible? Do you know how the ancient Hebrew Rabbis used that number? What does the Talmud say about this? Remember, Preterists have asked all of these questions too – and have discovered satisfactory Scriptural answers. See my articles on the Millennium here…
“Since, according to Preterists, “Jesus” isn’t coming back, one has to ask: What about scriptures such as Acts 1:11…
“And they said to them, Galilean men, why are you standing and staring into heaven? This Y’shua who was taken up from you to heaven, likewise he will come just as you have seen him who ascended into heaven. This should be a challenge to the “full Preterists” who believe He came back in 70 AD.”
Let’s consider the actual passage in question…
Acts 1:10-12 – “And as they (those first century Jewish Christians) were gazing intently into the sky while Jesus was going (the ascension to the throne of David – Acts 2:22-36), behold, two men in white clothing (angels) stood beside them (those first century Jewish Christians). 11 They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you (first century Jewish Christians) stand here looking up into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up (Raptured) from you (first century Jewish Christians) into heaven, will come in just the same way as you (first century Jewish Christians) have watched Him go into heaven.”
The clear point of the angels here is this – “Why are you disciples standing here in astonishment at your Messiah flying away into the air? You will see Him come back in the same way – to rescue you (The Rapture) – just as He promised (Jn 14:1-4, etc).”
This angelic prophecy was DIRECTED TO THEM – NOT TO US. THEY would “see Him come” for them, in the air (1 Thess 4:13-17) – not some far off distant group of 21st Century Christians. There is absolutely NO WARRANT for reading “FUTURISM” into the text? How would anyone EVER arrive at such an interpretation from just a plain reading of that historical narrative?
Why would the MODERN reader ever say, “Well, I know that the angels were originally speaking to ancient Jewish men – but they certainly must have meant that it would be us 21st century Christians who would SEE HIM RETURN in the air!” That is tantamount to claiming that Abe Lincoln’s famous 1864 “Letter to a Grieving Mother” was actually addressed to MY MOTHER! When you really think about this – it’s absurd.
What SCRIPTURAL JUSTIFICATION can possibly be offered for claiming that when 2,000 years ago, those angels on the Mt. of Olives told those Jewish Disciples of Jesus, “YOU WILL SEE…” that they in fact meant anyone OTHER than those actual men to whom they were actually speaking? How in the world can we insert a group of YET FUTURE PEOPLES into someone else’s ancient History?????
BTW: If Jesus PROMISED to “come back” for those first century disciples (Mt 16:27-28) – then HE DID – no matter what you or I may think or say about it. We can demand “PROOF” all we like – but the fact is that Jesus PROMISED IT and that’s enough. It matters not one whit if WE CANNOT GRASP IT OR IF IT MESSES UP OUR PERSONAL ESCHATOLOGY.
SCRIPTURE TRUMPS PREFERENCE OR OPINION – SCRIPTURE, SCRIPTURE SCRIPTURE.
AUDIENCE RELEVANCE is THE KEY – “WHO” WAS TALKING “WHEN” AND TO “WHOM” WERE THEY TALKING??
If you overheard someone at work saying to a co-worker, “So, I will meet you at Joe’s Grill for dinner Wednesday at 6.” Would YOU make plans to be there? Would you suppose that they were talking to YOU?
Of course not. Why then do we do this with the Bible?
“The Jews as a nation did NOT turn to Messiah in 70 AD as prophesied in Zechariah 12:10….”
God did not consider All “ETHNIC ISRAEL” to be “TRUE ISRAEL” (Rom 28-29; 9:6; Ch 11; GAL 6:14). It was the “faithful remnant of Israel” in the N.T. that was considered TRUE ISRAEL and they certainly DID turn to Messiah-Jesus (Mt 21:43-45).
“If all of these events took place in 70 AD, one must ask: When were the nations judged as described in Matthew 25:31-46?”
Mt 25:31-46 is a PARABLE just like the 2 other parables in Mt 25. Neither the parable of “The 10 Virgins” nor the parable of “the Talents” were meant to be taken as literal events (no actual “virgins”, “oil lamps” or “talents”, etc.). These were of course allegorical stories of comparison – depicting historical events that would occur in ancient covenant Israel. Ask yourself why then, all of a sudden, must verses 31-46 be uncharacteristically taken literally?
The parable of “The Sheep and Goats” is an obviously (no actual “sheep or goats”) metaphoric COURTROOM DRAMA picturing Jesus (as Judge over Israel) judging between righteous and unrighteous Israel at “THE LAST DAY” – the consummation of the Mosaic Age – the Hebrew eschaton. Which Israelites would be sheep (saved) and which would be goats (condemned) at the end of the OT age?
The “NATIONS” spoken of in the parable is the Greek word “ethnos” which refers to a “race” of people – Strong’s Dictionary says, “a multitude of individuals of THE SAME NATURE OR GENUS”. In light of the CONTEXT and CONTINUITY of ALL THREE PARABLES – it is most reasonable to understand “the nations” as referring to the 12 tribes of Israel (Rev 7). Since the N.T. is concerned with the ancient HEBREW eschaton, it makes perfect sense to allow the original context to determine the meaning of the original wording.
It is also noteworthy that all of the “kindnesses” shown to Jesus’ disciples mentioned in this Parable (“clothing the naked, feeding the poor, visiting the prisoners”, etc.) were actually taking place throughout the NT period leading up to the END. The parable of the Sheep and Goats is clearly speaking about faithful Jews who offered aid to suffering Christian Jews during their time of persecution and those unfaithful Jews who did not – but instead persecuted or ignored them – Here are just a few examples…
Hebrews 13:2 – Do not neglect to show ‘HOSPITALITY TO STRANGERS’, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.
James 2:15-17 – “If a brother or sister is WITHOUT CLOTHING and in need of daily FOOD, 16 and one of YOU (first century Christian ‘Jews’ – 1:1) says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not GIVE THEM WHAT IS NECESSARY for their body, what use is that? 17 Even so, faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.”
Hebrews 10:34 – “For you (first century HEBREW Christians) SHOWED SYMPATHY TO THE PRISONERS and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one.”
Hebrews 13:3 – “Remember THE PRISONERS, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are still in the body.”
As I said, it is noteworthy that ALL of the “kindnesses” shown to His disciples mentioned in the Parable (clothing the naked, feeding the poor , visiting the prisoners, etc.) can be found as having taken place throughout the transition period from the Old Covenant (Judaism) to New Covenant (Christianity) .
Now what seems more reasonable – that Jesus was giving parabolic instruction in Mt 25 to those whom He was ACTUALLY SPEAKING to -concerning events that would take place in THEIR lives – or…
…that He was speaking to those ancient Jews NOT ABOUT THEMSELVES – but about a far distant group of people who would live thousands of years in the future – about events that would have absolutely NOTHING to do with THEIR LIVES AT ALL????
Please notice also that in the Parable of the Talents the Master RETURNS TO THE “SAME WORKERS” THAT HE LEFT IN CHARGE in order to JUDGE THEM – not a FUTURE generation of workers.
YOU BE THE JUDGE.
“As for Nero – he couldn’t have been the Antichrist, as he died in 68 AD before the destruction of Jerusalem. He was a wimpy emperor though evil, indeed, but he doesn’t come close to being the “King of fierce countenance” of Daniel 8:23 and he made no covenant with Israel, Daniel 9:26, 27. Dispensationalists believe he will be destroyed by the King of kings, but Nero committed suicide.”
A “WIMPY EMPEROR”???? SERIOUSLY?? Has this author actually studied Nero?
The man was nothing short of a psychopathic monster – a “BEAST” who murdered His mother (Agrippina), both of his wives, (Octavia and Poppaea Sabina) as well as countless Aristocrats and Christ-Followers!!
The Book of Revelation promised that at the time of “THE END” God would “DESTROY” the enemies of His people with “fire” – a metaphor for destruction all thru Bible. When Nero committed suicide with the help of his secretary Epaphroditus (he slit his own throat) – he was in effect DESTROYED/DEFEATED.
Remember, the Bible describes King Saul’s destruction as God surfing the clouds on the back of an cherub, shooting Saul with lightening bolts from His celestial bow – when in actual fact, Saul COMMITED SUICIDE (2 Sam 22)!!
Once Nero instigated the persecution of Christians by blaming the fire in Rome on them – and once he commissioned General Vespasian to destroy Jerusalem – There was no turning back. Without question – Nero was ANTICHRIST – a hater of Jesus and His followers.
Make no mistake – it was apostate Israel (“the Land Beast”) in partnership with a deranged Roman Emperor and his Armies (“the Sea Beast”) that were to blame for the torment and murder of countless Christians in the first century – and eventually, Nero became responsible for the destruction of National Israel itself.
Nero issued no “mark” and people could buy and sell.
The “MARK (Greek “charagma” – an engraving or stamp) OF THE BEAST” mentioned in the Book of Revelation is nothing NEW in the Bible. It is common Prophetic Hebrew imagery borrowed from Ezekiel 9 in which God commanded Ezekiel to go thru ancient Jerusalem (before it was destroyed by Babylon) and put a “MARK” on “THE FOREHEADS” (Like Hebrew Priests) of all the righteous so that God could SLAY all those WITHOUT THE MARK. It is KEY to note that this was a VISION OF METAPHOR given to Ezekiel and not a literal occurrence – there was no ACTUAL MARKS placed on anyone – it was merely an ALLEGORY of divine judgment to come – just like the VISIONS we have in the Book of Revelation (again – John was a Hebrew Prophet also).
Remember also that God put His “MARK” on Cain (Gen 4) so that others would know that he “BELONGED TO GOD”.
As far as how this METAPHOR played out in actual history – it is very interesting to note that the Christians of the first century were under the military authority of Imperial Rome, a nation which openly proclaimed its rulers (the Caesars) to be divine. All those under the jurisdiction of Rome were required by law to publicly proclaim their allegiance to Caesar by burning a pinch of incense and declaring, “Caesar is Lord”. Upon compliance with this law, the Hebrew people were given a papyrus document called a “libellus”, which they were required to present when either stopped by the Roman police or attempting to engage in commerce in the Roman marketplace, increasing the difficulty of “BUYING OR SELLING” without this “MARK”.
This is the essence of Scripture’s warnings to the early Christians against taking upon themselves the “mark of allegiance to Daniel’s 4th Beast (Pagan Imperial Rome). Acceptance of this Roman “Mark” signified Apostate Israel’s allegiance to a Pagan god rather than the One True God….that pagan allegiance was already in play during Jesus’ lifetime…
John 19:15 – “So they (the Apostate Jewish Leadership) cried out, “Away with Jesus, away with Him, crucify Him!” (The Roman Governor) Pilate *said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The (Jewish) chief priests answered, “We (Jews) have no king except Caesar!” – An outright REJECTION OF GOD and a PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE to a pagan deity by the first century Hebrew Leadership!
The events of the Book of Revelation can easily be accounted for when one studies the Hebrew Scripture VERY INTENTLY, in their entirety. One must also carefully study the first century and early Historians such as Josephus, Hegesippus, Papius etc.
“Nero sat in no Temple declaring himself God, demanding he be worshiped (2 Thess. 2:4).”
“The man of lawlessness” mentioned in 2 Thess 2:4 is NOT referring to Nero Caesar but most likely the apostate Jewish Zealot leader John of Gischala who instigated Israel’s first century rebellion against Imperial Rome.
See this article…
“Lawlessness” refers to John’s utter disregard for Torah (Mt 24:12). This is why he is accussed of performng FALSE “SIGNS AND WONDERS” – a term having to do with the ancient Hebrew Prophets. We can see a similar situation with Simon Magus in Acts 8.
It is only within this first century context that the Apostle Paul’s “man of sin” prophecy make any sense and has any significance. No justification whatsoever exists for separating Paul’s words from either the Herodian Temple standing at the time of his writing or the predicted “end of the (Jewish) age”. John of Gischala, the son of Levi (the Hebrew priest), was a contemporary of Paul and was almost certainly Paul’s “man of sin.”
The EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT of Flavius Josephus, a first century Jewish-Roman historian, truthfully and impartially documents John of Gischala’s treachery and his critical role in Jerusalem’s first century demise (MT 24:34). No one else in history (Nero, Titus, or Domitian) even comes as close to fulfilling this 2 Thess 2 prophecy since this most influential and deceiving Jewish Zealot leader took over the forces of iniquity. And get this – John of Gischala actually stood in the Temple itself and exalted himself above all that is called God. He put himself above both God and Caesar. He regarded neither the laws of God nor those of man (“the man of lawlessness”). He therefore “set himself up” in the Temple, taking the place of God.
Josephus also records that before this John of Gischala, the son of Levi, was established as the Zealot leader in control of the Temple area (there were three Zealot factions), the power of Satan was already doing his deceitful and treacherous work. This John physically entered the Temple, presented himself to the Zealots as a God-sent ambassador; and persuaded them to defy the laws of Rome and go to war to gain independence. He also instigated the calling in the Idumaeans to keep the Jewish sympathizers from submitting to Rome. He ordered the death of Ananus and the removal of the priesthood. After these atrocities, he became the official leader of the Zealot group m control of theTemple area-john held the temple” and began disregarded the laws of Rome, God, and man, and promising deliverance from the Romans. Then he broke off from the Zealots and began “setting up a monarchial power.” He “set on fire these houses that were full of corn, and of all other provision which would have been sufficient for a siege of many years” He deceived the Jews about the power of the Roman armies In possession of the Temple and the adjoining parts, he cut the throats of anyone suspected of going over to the Romans.13 He performed many sacrileges, such as melting down the sacred utensils used in Temple service, and defiled the Temple.
In short, this John established himself in the Temple, the one standing when Paul wrote, and put himself above Rome and above God, thereby taking the place of God in the Temple. All this happened, right then and there, and exactly as Paul had said the “man of sin” would do.
After the coming of the Lord and the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in A.D. 70, John of Gischala was “condemned to perpetual imprisonment” by the Roman authorities. Thus was fulfilled Paul’s prophetic and symbolic language that this man would be destroyed by “the spirit of his Jesus mouth and brightness of his [parousia] coming” (see Isa. 11:4; 30:27-33; Hos. 6:5; also Da. 7:8, 19-28).
Verses 11-12. “For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but delighted In wickedness.”
Josephus records that the Roman General Titus had no intention of destroying the Temple. The Romans wanted to preserve it as a trophy and monument of their conquest. Even Josephus personally pleaded with John of Gischala to surrender. But such a “madness” swept through him and his Jewish followers that they taunted the powers of Rome and refused to listen. This man, John, through the power of Satan and the delusion sent by God upon the Jewish people, forced the Roman armies to act. Instead of accepting Jesus as Messiah, King, and Deliverer, the unbelieving Jews placed their hopes in this false messiah a man of deceit and wickedness. They looked to the “man of sin” to lead them to victory and independence. The priesthood, which stood in their way, had been removed. And by August or September of A.D. 70, Paul’s entire “man of sin” prophecy of 2nd Thessalonians 2:1-12 was fulfilled. The city and the Temple were burned and destroyed. The covenant nation of Israel and biblical Judaism were forever destroyed.
“The vials, bowls, seals, and trumpet judgments of Revelation are all symbolic to Preterists. Thus the carnage (and victory) of Revelation is overlooked and written off.”
“Overlooked and written off????”
The carnage (and victory) of Revelation is hardly “overlooked” by Preterism – as a matter of fact – the “carnage” (i.e. death of apostate Israel) and “victory” (of the church of Christ) can be clearly seen not only in the Book of Revelation, but in the first century historical writings as well. A cursory reading of Josephus’ “WARS OF THE JEWS” would drop the jaw of most modern Christians because it reads like the pages of the Book of Revelation come to life in actual history! Please read it BEFORE you dismiss it.
I have already established the “SYMBOLIC” nature of the Book of Revelation – as well as MUCH of the entire Bible – Have you read Ephesians 2 or Gal 4 lately??
BTW: How is that Paul and the author of the Book of Hebrews tells those first century Jewish Christians that THEY were ALREADY LIVING IN THE NEW HEAVENLY JERUSALEM if it HAS STILL NOT YET ARRIVED?? (Heb 12:22-23; Rev 21:1-2; Gal 4:24-26) . Notice that the author of Hebrews equates “THE CHURCH OF CHRIST” with “THE HEAVENLY JERUSALEM” and “MT ZION”…
Hebrews 12:22-23 – “But you (first century Hebrew Christ-Followers) have (already) come to (arrived at) Mount Zion (See Isa 51:11 !!!!!) and to the city of the living God (did they already come to a literal golden city – 1,500 miles cubed etc.??) the HEAVENLY JERUSALEM (i.e. Rev 21-22), and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and THE CHURCH of the firstborn (Rev 14:4) who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect…”
WOW!! YOU BE THE JUDGE.
“How can people with this (Preterist) theology accept that ALL of the prophecies of Yeshua’s first coming were fulfilled literally – but the Second Coming verses must be symbolic? Are we permitted to pick and choose like this and remain with any hermeneutical credibility and accuracy?
Preterism DOES NOT teach that Jesus’ Second Coming was a “symbolic” event. Many Preterists (including myself) believe and teach that Jesus ‘literally’ (but invisibly – like Elijah and the chariot of fire) met His disciples “IN THE AIR” at the time of “the end” and took them to be with Him in Heaven (Jn 14:1-3; Acts 1:9-11; 1 Cor 15:51-52; 1 Thess 4:13-17).
Of course, Jesus’ “SECOND COMING” (Gk – “Parousia” i.e. “visitation”) was also a visitation of Divine Judgment upon the wicked nation of Israel as prophesied in the O.T. Scriptures to take place in the last days of the Hebrew Eschaton. A close examination of the O.T. Scriptures will reveal that there were MANY such “CLOUD COMINGS” of God visited upon wicked nations sucah as Egypt, Babylon, Edom, Assyria etc.
Question: Did the planet come to an end when God sent armies to conquer Egypt nearly 600 years BC??…
Isaiah 19:1-2 – “The prophecy concerning EGYPT. Behold, the Lord is ‘RIDING ON A SWIFT CLOUD’ and is about ‘TO COME’ to Egypt (Did the Lord arrive in person in ancient Egypt?? No – it’s a metaphor); The idols of Egypt will tremble at His presence (can wood and metal tremble??), And the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them (actually ‘melt’?? No.). I (God) will incite Egyptians against Egyptians (a local ancient civil war – not Armageddon) and they will each fight against his brother and each against his neighbor, city against city and kingdom against kingdom (sounds like Mt 24:7!! – LOCAL WARS).”
God DID NOT actually leave Heaven and “COME TO EGYPT” in person 600 years before Christ arrived on earth – this is simply a common Hebrew poetic description of God’s judgment upon an ancient wicked nation?
Look how the Bible describes God’s judgment upon ancient Babylon – when He brought the ancient Medes against them (as prophesied in the Book of Daniel – the “the 2nd Beast devouring the 1st Beast”)…
Isaiah 13 – “The prophecy concerning Babylon which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw. Wail, because the (judgment) day of the Lord is near!…It will come as destruction from the Almighty. 7 Therefore all hands will fall limp, And every man’s heart will melt. 8 They will be terrified, Pains and anguish will take hold of them; They will writhe like a woman in labor (sounds just like Olivet Discourse – “a war coming”), They will look at one another in astonishment, Their faces aflame (actual fire on their faces?? No) . 9 Behold, the (judgment) day of the Lord is coming (for Babylon), cruel, with fury and burning anger, to make the land (of Babylon – not the entire planet) a desolation (like promised to first century Israel also) ; And God will exterminate its sinners from it (the land of Babylon). 10 Because the stars of heaven and their constellations will not flash forth their light; The sun will be dark when it rises And the moon will not shed its light (Did this literally happen in 500 BC?? was the Solar system destroyed back then?). 11 This is how I will punish the world (but I thought this was a prophecy against Babylon – it was!) for its evil and the wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud And abase the haughtiness of the ruthless. 12 I will make mortal the (Babylonian) man scarcer than pure gold and the gold of Ophir. 13 Therefore I will make the heavens tremble (, And the earth will be shaken from its place At the fury of the Lord of hosts In the day of His burning anger….”
Was the solar system actually destroyed ONCE AGAIN when the ancient Cyrenians conquered ancient Egypt?????….
Ezekiel 32:7-8 – “When I snuff you (Egypt) out, I will cover the heavens and darken their stars; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon will not give its light. All the shining lights in the heavens I will darken over you; I will bring darkness over YOUR LAND (See??? Not entire planet earth), declares the Sovereign Lord.”
These are hyperbolic pictorial descriptions of ANCIENT BATTLES that SOUND LIKE the end of the Universe! This is HOW God spoke to the ancient Hebrew Prophets. We use this type of exaggerated language every day and NEVER think to take it literally…
“My boss CHEWED MY HEAD OFF today!”
“I DIED laughing at that comedian last night!”
“This day lasted forever!” etc.
Question – IN LIGHT OF SCRITURE ITSELF – what then does this teach us about Jesus’ words concerning His “COMING ON THE CLOUDS” and the “SUN MOON AND STARS GOING DARK” etc.?
Remember, Jesus was not only the Son of God but an ANCIENT HEBREW PROPHET ALSO. Doesn’t it just make perfect sense then that He would use THE SAME PROPHETIC HEBREW LANGUAGE when it came to the impending destruction of a local wicked people?
If most of us Christians will be honest – we would have to admit that we never even knew these O.T. passages of Scripture existed!
“Revelation was written in about 95 AD and not before 70 AD. It’s therefore obvious that Preterism is just another teaching that is filled with doctrinal error and should not be taken seriously. It takes our eyes off of our “blessed hope” – the glorious return of Yeshua who was YHWH in the Flesh who will take believers out of our world of pain and sorrow.”
The author is here speaking dogmatically about the dating of the Book of Revelation – but without warrant. Today, there is overwhelming evidence for the EARLY DATE (64-66 AD) of the Book of Revelation – well respected Bible scholars such as F.F. Bruce, Adam Clarke, Philip Schaff, Jay Adams, Alfred Edersheim, Milton Terry (as well as many others) held/hold to an early date view.
See the article below…
Next, the “Pain, Death and Sorrow” that was promised to cease in Revelation 21:4 is a direct quote from Isa 25:8 – having to do with the termination of suffering of NATIONAL ISRAEL and no one else. Revelation 21:4 was referring to the end of the suffering/persecution of first century Jewish Christians who were suffering under Apostate Israel in cahoots with Imperial Rome (see Rev 1:9 along with the book of “HEBREWS” and James).
The “SIN, DEATH AND CURSE” mentioned in the Bible and specifically in Revelation 21-22 are referring to “THE SIN” (national Israel’s violation of Torah), “THE DEATH” (the spiritual death of ancient covenant Israel under SIN) and THE CURSE (the divine consequences promised by God to come upon National Israel under violation of Torah – PLEASE read Duet 28-32 where you will discover that THE CURSE promise to Israel by God is EXACTLY what we see being executed in the Book of Revelation.
BTW: The majority of the Book of Revelation is made up of direct quotes or allusions to O.T. Scripture references – because…THE BIBLE IS AN ANCIENT HEBREW BOOK CENTERED ON AN ANCIENT HEBREW ESCHATOLOGY – with a continuing implication and application for all of humanity (i.e. The New Covenant).
Of course this article leads to MANY MORE questions – but consider this…
I believe that an OVERTLY SCRIPTURAL and COMPELLING defense of basic Preterism has been offered here in response to this particular authors objections.
It is vital to note that Preterists have asked the SAME questions that anti-preterists are asking. Most Preterists did not start out as Preterists – but CHANGED THEIR UNDERSTANDING of eschatology because the Scriptures themselves compelled them to.
Preterists are not people who delight in controversy for controversy’s sake – no – we, like you, are very serious Bible students who are seeking to be as honest with the Scriptures as possible.
The author of this anti-preterist article raised the same questions that many serious bible students raise – however – it must be noted that he offered absolutely NO SCRIPTURAL SUPPORT WHATSOEVER for “FUTURIZING” the first century writings of the N.T. – he merely dismissed the preterist view apart from ANY Scriptural basis.
Merely PROTESTING a view is hardly the same as DEFEATING it.
I hope that all Bible students come to understand that is it is not emotion, opinion, personal preference, denominational stances, creeds, cherished church or family tradition or anything else besides SCRIPTURE ITSELF that can be allowed to direct our theology.
To try to make “THEM” (first century Israel) mean “US” or plain words like “SOON” mean “MUCH, MUCH LATER” or “QUICKLY” mean “VERY, VERY SLOWLY” is an abuse of the basic rules of grammar as well as an effort in futility.
“YOU” means “YOU” and “SOON” means “SOON” in ANY LANGUAGE AND ERA.
May God bless you in your further Study.
Frank R Speer 3/21/2013