BOOKS: BIBLICAL STUDIES (1500BC-AD70) / EARLY CHRISTIAN PRETERISM (AD50-1000) / FREE ONLINE BOOKS (AD1000-2008)
284 pages, paper, bibliography
By Grant Jeffrey
Will Jesus Christ literally return from heaven in the last days? Will Christ defeat evil and set up His kingdom on earth? Does the Bible prophesy that Jesus will establish a thousand-year millennial kingdom? After waiting for almost two thousand years, why should we believe that our generation might see the fulfillment of these prophecies? How should we answer critics who claim that these prophecies were fulfilled almost two thousand years ago when Jerusalem was destroyed? What did the early Church believe about the Second Coming, the Millennium, and the Antichrist?
The answers to these important questions are revealed in the fascinating research that is presented in this book. The evidence presented in Triumphant Return provides compelling proof that the Scriptures clearly taught that Jesus will return to earth at the end of this age to set up His kingdom on earth. You will discover overwhelming evidence that those in the early Church who lived closest in time to the apostles longed for the literal and imminent return and universally believed in the millennial kingdom. Finally, this book will explore the astonishing events that are taking place around the world that are fulfillments of the precise prophecies that the Scriptures recorded that point to the nearness of Christ's return.
A vital struggle is taking place regarding the fundamental doctrines concerning the Second Coming and the establishment of the kingdom of God. This contest regarding the Lord's return is now being waged in seminaries, pulpits, Christian bookstores, and within the hearts of millions of faithful Christians. This issue has tremendous implication for all those who love Jesus Christ and who long for the ushering in of His prophesied kingdom of God. The mainline Protestant denominations gradually de-emphasized belief in the literal return of Christ to set up His millennial kingdom several generations ago. In contrast, Evangelical, Pentecostal, and charismatic churches have strongly affirmed the truth of second advent of Christ to set up His kingdom during the last century.
However, a powerful new attack upon this fundamental biblical doctrine is beginning to infiltrate the minds and spirits of many Christians in our day precisely as the New Testament warns us. The apostle Peter prophesied that in the last days an attack would arise within the Church against the Second Coming. Peter warned that many would say, "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" (2 Peter 3:4). Those who believe literally the prophecies of the Word of God are now engaged in an unprecedented battle for the truth of Christ's second coming. This doctrine of the Second Advent is critical to the effectiveness of our evangelism, as well as to our faithful walk in the faith. Jude, the brother of Jesus, wrote, "It was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3).
Evangelical Christianity stands today at a historic crossroads concerning one of the most fundamental doctrines of our faith-the belief in the literal second coming of Christ and His final establishment of His millennial kingdom on earth. Next in importance to the fundamental doctrines regarding the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the Second Advent. The Second Coming is taught throughout the Word of God from Genesis to Revelation. The apostolic Church powerfully affirmed this doctrine during the first few centuries following the birth of the Church.
Whether or not most Christians are aware of this doctrinal conflict, powerful forces are now being marshaled in our generation to attack the belief in the Second Coming and the doctrine of the future millennial kingdom of God. This book builds a compelling defense of the biblical doctrine concerning Christ's triumphant return as the King of kings and Lord of lords to establish His millennial kingdom. Triumphant Return will demonstrate, there is overwhelming evidence that the early Church taught and believed in this doctrine almost universally during the first three centuries following the resurrection of Christ.
The apostolic Church was clearly premillennial in its hope and waited expectantly for the imminent return of their Messiah. Many readers will be surprised and thrilled to see for the first time overwhelming evidence that those who were closest in time to the life of Jesus and His apostles held strongly to the very same prophetic beliefs that are held today by many Evangelical students of prophecy. Despite the often-repeated claim that modern prophetic beliefs are not supported or shared by the teachings of the early Church, this book will demonstrate powerful and compelling evidence that our prophetic beliefs were held by many of the great teachers in the early Church. To my knowledge, this evidence has seldom, if ever, been presented to the Church in modern times. There is an obvious and common-sense presumption in favor of the belief that those who lived and taught in close proximity in time to the apostles who knew Christ personally would naturally possess a more accurate understanding of the true teachings of the apostolic Church. Therefore, our understanding of their teaching about the imminent and literal second coming of Christ and the premillennial return of Christ to set up His kingdom will confirm the validity of our modern prophetic beliefs.
During the early centuries, faithful Christians throughout the Roman Empire greeted each other with the ancient Greek phrase "Maranatha!" ("The Lord cometh!"). Their deeply held faith in the literal return of Jesus Christ to set up His kingdom is a foundational Christian belief and an important doctrine that has tremendous implications for our daily walk, our witnessing to a lost world, and our hopes for the future. Jesus Christ commanded His disciples to be watchful and ready for the moment when He would triumphantly return, regardless of how long He might tarry. Despite the many centuries that have passed since He first gave the Church His promise, the prophecy of Christ's return for His followers is absolute and unshakable.
The Christians living in the first centuries longed for the Second Advent. This deeply held belief motivated and shaped their worship and their daily walk with God. It transformed their hopes for the future that they were willing to die as martyrs for their faith in Jesus as their coming King rather than deny their faith in His deity and His Second Coming.
It is virtually impossible to correctly understand the Lord's plan to redeem the earth and humanity from the curse of sin unless we study the biblical doctrine of the Second Coming. Our understanding of this critical doctrine will enhance our appreciation of the inspiration of the Scriptures and the unfolding purpose of God as revealed in both the prophecies as well as in the life and ministry of Christ. The promised kingdom is the focus of the various covenants that God has made with humanity. The German theologian, Dr. Christian Kling. declared the centrality of the kingdom of God: "The idea of the kingdom of God is the central idea of the entire dispensation of revelation; the kingdom of God is the end and motive of all heavenly revelation and institutions of the old and new covenants; yea, of the creation and promise from the beginning. The general foundation of this idea is the all-inclusive power and dominion of God."[Christian F. Kling, Herzog's Religious Encyclopedia article: "Kingdom of God.",1891.]
A careful analysis reveals that the Lord's prophecies concerning the kingdom of God form the largest single doctrine in His inspired revelation. A number of biblical scholars, including Dr. Pye Smith and Johann Peter Lange, have calculated that there are more Scriptural passages that teach about the kingdom than all other separate doctrines combined. This provides compelling evidence of the importance of the coming kingdom to the plan of God. Johann Peter Lange (1802-1884) acknowledged the fundamental importance of Christ's coming kingdom in his Commentary on the Scriptures: "The kingdom of heaven must form the central point of all theological learning."[Johann Peter Lange, Commentary, vol. 1, p. 254.]
The preaching of John the Baptist, Jesus of Nazareth, His disciples and apostles often dealt with the coming kingdom of God. This topic formed a major part of the message of the early Church during the first few centuries of the Christian era. The disciples continually questioned Jesus about His parables regarding the kingdom. They wanted to know when the kingdom would appear and what their future role would be in it. Significantly, the New Testament affirms that the message of Jesus is "the gospel of the kingdom." Matthew taught that Jesus began His ministry teaching about the kingdom: "And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people" (Matthew 4:23). Matthew recorded Christ's great prophecy that this doctrine will be preached by His Jewish witnesses to an unbelieving world during the Great Tribulation just before the return of the Messiah. "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" (Matthew 24:14).
The life, ministry, trial, and death of Christ are inextricably involved with the promised kingdom. Jesus declared that He is the promised King and that He will return to set up His prophesied kingdom. Jesus taught His followers to pray the Lord's Prayer, which specifically focuses on the coming kingdom of God: "Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. . . . For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen" (Matthew 6:9-13). While the prophecy of our eternal home in heaven is the glorious promise of God to all those who place their faith and trust in Him, Jesus also prophesied that the Christian saints will rule and reign with Him forever as priests and kings over the population of the earth. The coming kingdom on God will someday encompass the entire universe including the earth, the New Jerusalem and heaven itself.
These facts should encourage us as Christians to carefully and prudently examine those prophecies concerning the Second Coming, which clearly relate to our generation and to the role that Christ has assigned us in His future kingdom. Jesus Christ commanded His disciples to watch diligently for the fulfillment of those specific prophetic signs that would indicate His soon coming. The Lord declared, "And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh" (Luke 21:28). The prophetic message about the Lord's return is not a pessimistic message of doom and gloom to those who love Him. Rather, Christ's message is a prophecy of hope and redemption for all those who place their faith and trust in Him and long for His approaching kingdom of peace and righteousness.
Ancient Evidence that the Fig Tree is a symbol of Israel
Apocalypse of Peter (Ethiopic edition)
The Apocaylpse of Peter is a non-canonical manuscript from approximately A.D. 120 that is an early Christian commentary on Jesus famous prophecy given to His disciples on the Mount of Olives regarding the signs to His return in the last days. This remarkable manuscript documents the understanding of the early post-apostolic Church that Jesus's famous prophetic parable about the budding of the fig tree was understood by the Jewish Christians to be a clear prophecy of the rebirth of the nation Israel in the last days prior to Christ's return.
I. And when he was seated on the Mount of Olives, his own came unto him, and we entreated and implored him severally and besought him, saying unto him, "Make known unto us what are the signs of thy Parousia and of the end of the world, that we may perceive and mark the time of thy Parousia and instruct those who come after us, to whom we preach the word of thy Gospel and whom we install in thy Church, in order that they, when they hear it, may take heed to themselves that they mark the time of thy coming." And our Lord answered and said unto us, "Take heed that men deceive you not and that ye do not become doubters and serve other gods. Many will come in my name saying 'I am Christ'. Believe them not and draw not near unto them. For the coming of the Son of God will not be manifest, but like the lightning which shineth from the east to the west, so shall I come on the clouds of heaven with a great host in my glory, with my cross going before my face will I come in my glory, shining seven times as bright as the sun will I come in my glory, with all my saints, my angels, when my Father will place a crown upon my head, that I may judge the living and the dead" and recompense every man according to his work.
2. And ye, receive ye the Parable of the fig-tree thereon: as soon as its shoots have gone forth and its boughs have sprouted, the end of the world will come." And I, Peter, answered and said unto him, "Explain to me concerning the fig-tree, [and] how we shall perceive it, for throughout all its days does the fig-tree sprout and every year it brings forth its fruit [and] for its master. What (then) meaneth the parable of the fig-tree? We know it not." And the Master answered and said unto me, "Dost thou not understand that the fig-tree is the house of Israel.? Even as a man hath planted a fig-tree in his garden and it brought forth no fruit, and he sought its fruit for many years. When he found it not, he said to the keeper of his garden, 'Uproot the fig-tree that our land may not be unfruitful for us.' And the gardener said to God, 'We thy servants (?) wish to clear it (of weeds) and to dig' the ground around it and to water it. If it does not then bear fruit, we will immediately remove its roots from the garden and plant another one in its place.'
Hast thou not grasped that the fig-tree is the house of
Israel? Verily, 1 say to you that when its boughs have sprouted at the end,
then shall deceiving Christs come, and awaken hope (with the words): 'I am
the Christ, who am (now) come into the world.' And when they shall see the
wickedness of their deeds (even of the false Christs), they shall turn away
after them and deny him to whom our fathers gave praise(?), the first Christ
whom they crucified and thereby sinned exceedingly. But this deceiver is not
the Christ. And when they reject him, he will kill with the sword (dagger)
and there shall be many martyrs. Then shall the boughs of the fig-tree, i.e.
the house of Israel, sprout, and there shall be many martyrs by his hand:
they shall be killed and become martyrs. Enoch and Elias will be sent to
instruct them that this is the deceiver who must come into the world and do
signs and wonders in order to decieve. And therefore shall they that are
slain by his hand be martyrs and shall be reckoned among the good and
righteous martyrs who have pleased God in their life."
What do YOU think ?
Date: 07 Jul 2006
Email PreteristArchive.com's Sole Developer and Curator, Todd Dennis
(todd @ preteristarchive.com)
Opened in 1996