Online Bible and Study Tools
Translate || Vine / Schaff || Alts/Vars/Criticism/Aramaic

 
 


End Times Chart


Introduction and Key

BOOKS:  BIBLICAL STUDIES (1500BC-AD70) / EARLY CHRISTIAN PRETERISM (AD50-1000) / FREE ONLINE BOOKS (AD1000-2008)


AD70 Dispensationalism: According to that view, AD70 was the end of 'this age' and the start of the 'age to come'.    Those who lived before AD70 could only 'see in part' and such, lacking the resurrection and redemptive blessings which supposedly came only when Herod's Temple in Jerusalem fell.    Accordingly, AD70 was not only the end of Old Testament Judaism, but it was also the end of the revelation of Christianity as seen in the New Testament.

HYPER PRETERISM

"Full preterist" material is being archived for balanced representation of all preterist views, but is classified under the theological term hyper (as in beyond the acceptable range of tolerable doctrines) at this website.  The classification of all full preterism as Hyper Preterism (HyP) is built upon well over a decade of intense research at PreteristArchive.com, and the convictions of the website curator (a former full preterist pastor).  The HyP theology of final resurrection and consummation in the fall of Jerusalem, with its dispensational line in AD70 (end of old age, start of new age), has never been known among authors through nearly 20 centuries of Christianity leading up to 1845, when the earliest known full preterist book was written.  Even though there may be many secondary points of agreement between Historical/Modern Preterism and Hyper Preterism, their premises are undeniably and fundamentally different.

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING MATERIAL HAS BEEN CLASSIFIED AS "HYPER PRETERIST"


Systematic Hyper Preterism
(aka "Full Preterism")



Study Archive

Jesus: "It is finished" (AD30)
cf. Hebrews 10:19-22

Click For Site Updates Page

Free Online Books Page

Historical Preterism Main

Modern Preterism Main

Hyper Preterism Main

Preterist Idealism Main

Critical Article Archive Main

Church History's Preteristic Presupposition

Study Archive Main

Dispensationalist dEmEnTiA  Main

Josephus' Wars of the Jews Main

Online Study Bible Main

Hyper Preterism: Defining "Hyper Preterism"- Criticisms from the Inside - Criticisms from the Outside || Progressive Pret | Regressive Pret | Former Full Preterists | Pret Scholars | Normative Pret | Reformed Pret | Pret Idealism | Pret Universalism

William Bell
Max King
Don Preston
Larry Siegle
Kurt Simmons
Ed Stevens
 

SOME DISTINCTIVE DOCTRINES OF SYSTEMATIZED HYPER PRETERISM

It is important to keep in mind that many ideas and doctrines full preterism appeals to - such as the complete end of the Old Covenant world in AD70 - are by no means distinctive to that view.   Many non HyPs believe this as well, so one need not embrace the Hyper Preterist system in order to endorse this view.   Following are exceptional doctrines which, so far as I've seen, are only taught by adherents of Hyper Preterism.:

DISTINCTIVE DOCTRINES TAUGHT BY STANDARD FULL PRETERISM

  • All Bible Prophecy was Fulfilled By AD70

  • Atonement Incomplete at Cross ; Complete at AD70

  • The Supernatural Power of Evil Ended in AD70

  • The Spirit of Antichrist was Destroyed in AD70

  • "The Consummation of the Ages" Came in AD70

  • "The Millennium" is in the Past, From AD30 to AD70

  • Nothing to be Resurrected From in Post AD70 World ; Hades Destroyed

  • The Christian Age Began in AD70 ; Earth Will Never End

  • "The Day of the Lord" was Israel's Destruction ending in AD70

  • The "Second Coming" of Jesus Christ Took Place in AD70-ish

  • The Great Judgment took place in AD70 ; No Future Judgment

  • The Law, Death, Sin, Devil, Hades, etc. Utterly Defeated in AD70

  • "The Resurrection" of the Dead and Living is Past, Having Taken Place in AD70

  • The Context of the Entire Bible is Pre-AD70 ; Not Written To Post AD70 World

DISTINCTIVE DOCTRINES TAUGHT BY VARIOUS FORMS
(under construction)

  • Baptism was for Pre-AD70 Era (Cessationism)

  • The Lord's Prayer was for Pre-AD70 Era (Cessationism)

  • The Lord's Supper was for Pre-AD70 Era (Cessationism)

  • The Holy Spirit's Paraclete Work Ceased in AD70 (Cessationism)

  • The Consummation in AD70 Caused Church Offices to Cease (Cessationism)

  • The Resurrection in AD70 Changed the "Constitutional Principle" of Marriage (Noyesism)

  • Israel and Humanity Delivered into Ultimate Liberty in AD70 (TransmillennialismTM)

  • The Judgment in AD70 Reconciled All of Mankind to God ; All Saved (Preterist Universalism)

  • Adam's Sin No Longer Imputed in Post AD70 World ; No Need to be Born Again (Preterist Universalism)

  • When Jesus Delivered the Kingdom to the Father in AD70, He Ceased Being The Intermediary (Pantelism/Comprehensive Grace?)

  • The Book of Genesis is an Apocalypse; is About Creation of First Covenant Man, not First Historical Man (Covenantal Preterism)

 

 

Silence Demands a Rapture
Pre-Publication Article for Expectations Demand a Rapture

By Ed Stevens

First Edition -- May 1, 2002


PREFACE BY THE AUTHOR

First of all I want to acknowledge and thank Garrett Brown for patiently nudging me for more than five years to look at J.S. Russell's rapture theory.  I first got acquainted with Garrett through the tapes of the 1993 Covenant Eschatology Symposium in Mt. Dora, Florida, which he sponsored. This small booklet is dedicated to both Garrett and his wife Beverly as a token of my extreme appreciation for all the many ways they have encouraged me through the years and supported our efforts to spread the eschatological truth.  May God richly bless them in every way. 

I resisted the rapture theory ("kicking and screaming") for a long time.  It just didn't make sense.  At first I didn't even see it as a "possible" interpretation.  But Garrett's persistence was eventually rewarded.  It was the definition and usage of the Greek word "harpazo" ("caught up" in 1 Thes. 4:17) that first flagged my attention. Then some other texts began to leap off the page at me, especially those which say what the first century saints were expecting to see and experience at the parousia.  Then I noticed the total lack of recognition of the parousia by any post-70 writers, especially  the "apostolic fathers" who wrote immediately after AD 70.  These three factors began to work on me until I realized there is a serious grammatical, historical and contextual problem here that we twenty-first century preterists have not adequately addressed.  This bothered me.  I lost sleep over it.  I have spent many hours at the library ransacking the commentaries to see how they handle these problems.  J. S. Russell's theory kept coming back to haunt me.  It finally became inescapable. 

I also want to thank Walt Hibbard and Arthur Melanson for being willing to join me in teaching and promoting this view of the rapture.  Both these men are long-term players in the Preterist movement and have been a tremendous encouragement to me.  May God bless them richly. 

In the pages below I will share some of the reasons I believe the rapture theory deserves our serious consideration. I'm not suggesting this just for fun.  I know many will think this theory is about as loony as UFO mania.  But I'm after TRUTH like all of us are.   And I'm simply following where Scripture and history are forcing me to go.  I wish I could stay with popular theories, but like Luther said, "my conscience is chained to Scripture." 

Please give it your most objective appraisal.

INTRODUCTION:  WHAT ARE WE SUGGESTING HERE?

In preparation of my speech on the "History of Eschatology" for the 2002  Bible Prophecy Conference in Sparta, North Carolina, I was re-reading all my  church history material attempting to come to a better understanding of the historical development of eschatological interpretation in the post-70 church.  I was reminded of the extreme paucity of written material immediately after AD 70.  This silence has always been curious to me for many reasons. 

I was also reading Sam Frost's new book, Misplaced Hope, which is an excellent rebuttal against Jonathin Seraiah's critique of Preterism.  His book reminded me again of the extreme lack of writings by Christian leaders immediately after AD 70.  Indeed, Sam did a marvelous job of further minimizing the number of post-70 documents even more by suggesting that Barnabas and Clement may have been written before AD 70.  This makes the number of post-70 "Apostolic Father" writings even fewer.  It was not the purpose of Frost to solve the mystery of the post-70 silence, but rather simply to assume it as fact throughout his book.  And it is this silence, which all church historians acknowledge, that pushes me toward the rapture view. 

How could it be that some of the apostles and their traveling companions lived through the events of AD 70 without recognizing the significance of it and saying something about it?  This is the single most significant factor shaping the history of eschatological study that I am aware of.  All of church history and its consequent interpretation of Bible Prophecy is deeply affected by this silence.  Even the so-called "de-eschatologizing" process of New Testament theology was heavily affected by this silence which everyone assumes indicated a non-fulfillment. 

Every student of church history is puzzled by the silence.  Even futurists acknowledge the strange absence of historical material coming from the three decades immediately after AD 70.  But no one spends much time trying to figure out why that silence is there.  It doesn't affect a futurist eschatology nearly as much as it does the Preterist.  For futurists, it is merely a frustration.  But for preterists it is a critical lack of documentation at the very time when we need significant historical validation of eschatological fulfillment.  Our critics often use this lack of historical documentation as evidence against the preterist view.  Only Scripture has absolute authority to define our doctrinal belief system, and historical considerations can only have value when they confirm and explain the fulfillment of the Biblical predictions.  But, historical considerations can play a very significant role in Biblical interpretation when the Bible predicts specific, detailed and imminent events.  That detail demands fulfillment, and it is subsequent history that either validates or nullifies it.  That is the case here.  The NT writers gave specific, detailed expectations to the first century church about what they could expect to happen very soon.  Since we do not have any historical validation of those expectations being fulfilled, a "documentation problem" has surfaced.

It is this "silence" that this book will examine and try to understand. 



WHAT WAS THE PRE-70 CHURCH EXPECTING?

Unless we grasp how much the pre-70 church was expecting to see and experience when the parousia arrived, we will not understand the problem of their silence after AD 70.  So let us begin by looking at their anticipations.  What did the apostles tell them that they would see and experience at the parousia?  Here's a great example of this:  2 Thes. 1:6-10  --

"For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to GIVE RELIEF TO YOU who are afflicted and TO US AS WELL when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.  These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be GLORIFIED in His saints on that day, and to be MARVELED AT among all who have believed-for our testimony to you was believed."

Notice what Paul promises to the Thessalonians.  Their Jewish persecutors would be repaid with affliction at the parousia, when Christ would come from heaven in flaming fire to destroy them.  Question:  Did the Jews get that  destruction in a tangible and visible way?  Did they SEE it and EXPERIENCE it?  Or was it merely some kind of "spiritualized" fulfillment that was not recognizable by the physical senses?

Notice what else Paul says would happen at the parousia.  When Jesus was "revealed" (implying they would see Him "unveiled") at his coming/parousia, he would be "glorified" by His saints on that day, and "MARVELED AT among all who have believed."  Question:  Where is the record of this happening?  Did it happen?  Was it documented?  Why not?  Paul says they would not only see him "revealed" at his return (a theophany), but would "marvel at him" in the company of all other true believers.  We know it was going to happen to physically alive people since he says it will occur at his parousia when he  gives relief to them and all others who were alive and suffering in the tribulation at that time.  When and where did this happen?  How did it happen?  Why don't we have those folks after AD 70 telling the story about how glorious it was to be in His presence and marvel at His majesty?  Why are these folks, who supposedly were going to see this marvelous vindication and relief, so silent afterwards?  They should have been dancing in the streets!  If they were still around after seeing the parousia and marveling at Christ in His presence, how could they do anything but talk about it afterwards (assuming they were still alive and on the earth)?

Their silence speaks volumes, especially since a few verses later (2 Thes. 2:1) Paul mentions their "gathering together to him" at His parousia. If this isn't a promise of a rapture, I simply don't know what else to make of it.  The silence about Christ's parousia from folks who were definitely  promised to SEE it and experience it is very significant!  Either those folks in the first century saw it and were taken to be with Christ immediately, or they did NOT see it at all and were so embarrassed or disillusioned about the non-fulfillment that they went away quietly and never spoke of it again. 

But this second option is not an option for preterists, since Paul states emphatically that when Christ comes, His saints will see it, and they will be vindicated and rewarded by it, and will marvel at Christ in the company of all the other believing saints.  It becomes impossible to account for their silence afterwards unless they were removed from the scene by something like a rapture.  And that is exactly what Paul alludes to three verses later (2 Thess. 2:1) when he reminds them about the "gathering to Him" at His parousia.  How would the Thessalonians have understood this?  What would their expectations have been?

Can you imagine how they would have felt immediately after AD 70 if they had not witnessed Christ's parousia, nor marveled at Him in his coming, nor been "gathered" to Him in any visible, tangible sense?  Disillusionment is not the word for it.  Outrage or indignation would be more like it.  They would have been screaming "foul" at the non-fulfillment, or the false expectations they were given by Paul!  They would have joined the chorus of the "mockers" in 2 Pet. 3:4 who were singing:  "Where's the promise of His parousia?"  Why don't we hear some complaints after AD 70?  Why are they so silent?  Were they "gathered to Him" just like Paul promised?  Is that the "upward call" (Phil. 3:14) that Paul was looking forward to?  Was that the time when their old bodies would be exchanged, or "changed" (1 Cor. 15:51), or "transformed" (Phil. 3:21) to be like Christ's glorious immortal body?

1 John 3:2 is another example.   John clearly says that those who were true "children of God" would definitely see Christ at His parousia and become like him.  This is not apocalyptic language.  There is a very real expectation here.  He says they would see Christ return and would be made like Him at His coming.  Did they see Him return?  Did they remain on earth afterwards?  If so, why didn't they (apostle John especially) tell anyone about what they saw and experienced? 

John claimed they would SEE Him at his return, and that they would know it when he came.  Who can believe that John was still around and knew that the parousia had happened, but refused to say anything about the fulfillments that he knew had occurred?  Even if they were fulfilled in a "spiritual-only" way he should STILL have at least explained that much of it, if he was still around.  He would still claim a past fulfillment for the parousia.  But we don't even have that!  We have nothing from any of those apostolic men or their traveling companions about ANY KIND of fulfillments at AD 70.  Surely they didn't all die in the persecution (Timothy, Titus, Luke, Apollos, Barnabas, Gaius, Aristarchus, etc.)?  Did all these guys fail to perceive the fulfillments?  Or were they gone with Christ?  If they were still around, they would have been UNABLE to refrain from declaring their utter amazement at the fulfillments they had just witnessed and participated in.

Besides the 1 Thess. 4 text which clearly teaches a "catching up" of the living and remaining saints at the Parousia, there are other texts which either assert or imply a rapture.  Here's another example -- John 14:3. 

"If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and RECEIVE YOU TO MYSELF, that where I am, there you may be also."

Notice that Jesus promises to return to them after he has prepared a place for them in the heavenly realm (John 14:1-3).  He says he will come back and "receive [them] to himself," so that where he is (heaven), they would be also.  Jesus also said that apostle John would "live and remain" until He returned (John 21:22f).  And Mat. 16:27-28 says that there would be more than one of them alive at Christ's return ("some of those standing here"). Mat. 19:28 says that "in the regeneration" (after the resurrection at the Parousia) all twelve of them would get to be seated on thrones with Christ and judge the twelve tribes.  Notice that it says all twelve of them, not just the ones who had already died by that time.  This implies (if not outright demands) that the rest of the apostles who lived and remained until the parousia would be "caught up" or "received unto" Christ in the heavenly realm at the Parousia to sit on the twelve thrones.

This sure sounds like the same thing Paul was talking about in 1 Thes. 4, doesn't it?  Wonder where Paul got the idea from?  (Jesus maybe?  John 14:3?)   You see, if Jesus didn't come back and "receive the living and remaining ones to Himself" then there were not 12 occupied thrones in the period (AD 66-70) when Christ was "present" (in his parousia) judging the twelve tribes  for their covenantal unfaithfulness.  John 14:3 (along with Mat. 19:28; John 21:22f and Mat. 16:27f) forces the issue on us.  There is a real thorny "documentation problem" here.  If you had been apostle John or one of the other 12 who lived and remained until the parousia, and you recognized his
parousia had occurred, yet you were not "received to Himself" and taken to  heaven where he is, and were not seated on a throne at His side, nor riding  the heavens with Him as He and His angels judged the 12 tribes and avenged the blood of His saints for that three and a half years of His "visitation" (parousia) -- how would you feel?  Would you be scratching your head wondering what happened?  "Where is the promise of my "reception into heaven," and my throne at Christ's side, and my judging the twelve tribes? My eyes are not seeing what my ears have heard promised." 

It was awareness of such an "about to come" "terrifying expectation of judgment" against the Jewish nation that drove apostle Paul in his missionary zeal to save some of them before the End.  "Knowing therefore the TERROR of the Lord [that awaits the unbelieving Jews] we persuade men."  Indeed.  But Paul didn't stop there.  He also knew that the faithful "sanctified" true Christians would be rewarded with an "upward call" (Phil. 3:14) in which  their bodies would be "changed" (1 Cor. 15:51) or "transformed" (Phil. 3:21) from mortality to immortality as they were "gathered" (2 Thes. 2:1;Mat. 24:31), "received" (John 14:3), or "caught up" (1 Thes.4:17) into the  "presence" (2 Thes. 1:10) of Christ at His parousia.  There are too many of these promises to simply ignore.  They all reinforce one another.  The saints would have been more than disillusioned if nothing visible or tangible happened at the parousia. 

In view of all the many apostolic statements about what they would see and experience at the parousia, what should we reasonably expect to hear from them immediately after AD 70 if they were still around?  We should have heard jubilant and ecstatic claims of fulfillment coming from their mouths and pens.  Wonderful descriptions of the glorious advent of Christ from heaven with his angels rewarding them and destroying their persecutors.  Instead, we find a "deafening silence." Therefore, we have to ask whether these saints ever got what they were expecting! 

There is no chance that the parousia would occur and they not see it.  They would have been complaining with the "mockers" if it had not occurred.  Paul, Peter, John and all the apostles said and believed that they would see the parousia and experience the relief and reward that would come with it.  They would marvel at him in His parousia.  So if they were still around, the only way they could be silent about it is if the parousia didn't occur at all.  If it occurred, they would have seen it and experienced it. If they were still around afterwards they would have said something or wrote something about it.  Fiery torture could not have kept them from proclaiming it from the housetops.  They would have been ecstatic.

And it is not just the apostles who were silent.  All the leadership of the church is silent.  People like Luke, Timothy, Titus, Apollos, Barnabas, Silas, Gaius, and Aristarchus are silent as well.  Surely not all of these guys were killed in the persecution.  Some of them must have survived beyond AD 70 if there was no rapture.  Why didn't some of them say something about the fulfillments they had just witnessed at the parousia?  The whole church and all the apostolic traveling companions and leadership were silent about the parousia. 

The New Testament canon closed abruptly at AD 70, and left us hanging without any information about when, where, and how these leaders died, or where they were buried.  They vanish without a trace leaving no record of what their experience of the parousia was like. 

The post-70 church which was composed of those who were left behind, obviously failed to recognize the time of Christ's second "visitation," the same way the Jews failed to acknowledge His first coming. 

o Luke 19:44 and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your VISITATION."

o 1 Pet. 2:12 Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of VISITATION.

This later passage by Peter implies that the saints would know it when Christ returned.  His true saints expected to see and experience the vindication and reward on that day of visitation.  Well, did they get their reward and see his return?  Why didn't they say anything about it?  Why the silence?  Were they ashamed of Christ at His coming?  The NT writers say only the wicked would shrink away in shame at His coming.  His saints would draw near and glorify Him and marvel at Him in his presence!  I don't see how that joy and ecstasy could have subsided so completely and rapidly by AD 71 and following.

 Something is wrong with this picture.  If these folks were still around, they would be venting their exuberation and exhilaration.  Where is it?  Why don't we hear it?  Why the silence? 



SILENCE WHICH DEMANDS A VERDICT

Futurists use this silence to minimize the importance of AD 70 by saying, "Surely if AD 70 was as significant as you say, the leaders of the post-70 church would have said something about it, especially if it was the parousia.  Since they ignore it, the implication is that it was not significant for Christians, and certainly could not have been the parousia."  This silence also affects the "Partial Preterist view, since it gives them no historical support for their "some kind of coming at AD 70." 

There is a "documentation problem" for the rapture view, BUT it is not as significant a problem as it is for the non-rapture preterist.  Absence explains the silence better than their continued presence does.  A continued presence is what creates the "documentation problem" in the first place.  So, this "documentation problem" is not really much of a "rapture" documentation problem at all.  But our critics have clearly pointed out how it is a "parousia, resurrection, and judgment" documentation problem.  The lack of documentation for a rapture is only one-fourth of the whole package.  All of  us preterists (regardless of our position regarding the rapture) still have a "parousia documentation problem." 

For non-rapture preterists, I would contend that the way they explain the lack of documentation for the parousia is the same way I would explain the lack of documentation for a rapture.  But absence works better for the rapture view than continued presence does for the non-rapture position.

Partial preterists and futurists do not accept the non-rapture (continued presence) explanation of the lack of documentation for the parousia.  It really does not offer a real solution to the problem.  It merely begs the question.  So when a non-rapture preterist asserts that the rapture preterist has a "documentation problem," it leaves three fingers pointing back at him.  The non-rapture preterist has three other events to find documentation for (parousia, resurrection and judgment).  But the rapture theory provides a documentation solution to all  three of these events.  A rapture easily explains why no Christian after AD 70 mentioned the occurrence of the parousia (they weren't around to document it).  The non-rapture view can't have that explanation in his bag of apologetic tricks, and so he is burdened with a radically greater "documentation problem" than the rapture preterist.

If there was NO rapture, then apostle John and a whole bunch of the other leaders of the church (e.g., Apollos, Luke, Timothy, Titus, Barnabas, Gaius, Aristarchus, etc.) must have lived beyond the destruction and would have witnessed the fulfillment of the parousia, resurrection and judgment.  Why didn't they say something about the fulfillments?  Did John suddenly lose all the knowledge about eschatology that he had when he wrote the book of Revelation and 1 John 2:18, 2:28, and 3:2?  Did all the other leaders suddenly forget everything they had heard the apostles teach about the parousia?  Did the parousia actually occur and they simply missed it and suddenly started thinking that the parousia was no longer imminent any more?  Why didn't they say something about it if they knew it occurred?  Why do these leaders seem to suddenly vanish without a trace?  We don't know when, where, or how they died, nor where they were buried.  We should have reams of  excited and exuberant documentation from them if they had witnessed the fulfillments and lived beyond the event into the AD 70-100 period. 

Could it be that the reason they say nothing about the fulfillment of the parousia is because they were not still around to document it???  Gasp!!!  (A rapture?)  Isn't it SINFUL for a preterist to even think such a thing, much less even dare utter the "R" word?  Nope!  J. S. Russell a century ago showed that it is perfectly consistent for a preterist to believe in a rapture.

Mat. 16:27-28 says that "some" of the 12 disciples would still be alive at Christ's return.  We know John was one of those (John 21:22f).  But he was not the only one.  Christ says "some."  So it seems there would be at least two of the original 12 still alive at the parousia.  Did they remember Jesus' promise to return before they died?  Matthew obviously did, and so did apostle John. 

After 70 AD, when John supposedly lived beyond it (according to tradition), did he actually know that the parousia had occurred (like he claimed he would -- 1 John 2:28 and 3:2)?  Or was he one of those who did not recognize the time of Our Lord's visitation?  His accuracy (and inspiration) is at stake here.  If he and the others who were still alive had witnessed the parousia and knew that it had occurred, why didn't they say something?  Or why don't we hear them at the end of their life on their deathbed bemoaning the fact that Christ had promised to return in their lifetime, but had failed to keep that promise, because they never saw it occur?  And if they had seen it, how could they ever go to their death without mentioning that it was fulfilled? 

You see, it is not the rapturist who has a "documentation problem" here.  It is the non-rapture preterist who has the problem. 

Silence demands an absence, since a continued presence could not have been silent!  My previous non-rapture explanations for the rapture texts have reached dead ends (historically, grammatically and contextually).  They no longer seem credible in view of the "deafening silence" that pervaded the church immediately after AD 70, when they should have been shouting from the housetops that Christ had returned. This "deafening silence" of the apostolic voice after AD 70 speaks volumes about what had happened. It is a "documentation problem which points explicitly toward a rapture removal of the true saints at the parousia.  If there wasn't a rapture, then all preterists have an insurmountable "documentation problem."  We would have to explain why John and the other remaining apostles were not bemoaning their  failure to see the parousia and be rewarded in the fashion they were expecting.  There is simply too much "silence" for us to explain away
without a rapture removal. 

The rapture is the only consistent way I have found to solve this "parousia documentation problem."  Again, there is no documentation problem for the rapture.  We would not expect any documentation of a rapture from the "sleepers" who were left behind.  They were not awake and did not know what had happened.  And they were certainly not allowed to see it, any more than the 50 prophets in Elijah's day were allowed to see His translation into heaven (2 Kings 2).  They couldn't document something they didn't see or even know occurred.

Questions: If the parousia occurred and some of the apostles (John and at least one other) were among the faithful ones who were "watching and waiting" and recognized it, why didn't they say so after AD 70 if they were still around?  Did they suddenly lose their ability to speak and write? Did John see it like he said he would (1 Jn. 2:28, 3:2)?  Did he KNOW he saw it?  Did he live beyond it?  Did he lose his memory or his ability to communicate?   Did anyone else SEE the parousia and know that it occurred?  Did Luke, Apollos, Timothy, Titus, or any of the other faithful disciples who lived and remained until the parousia see it?  Did they KNOW the parousia had occurred, or were they unfaithful and failed to "recognize the time of His visitation?"  If they knew it occurred, why didn't some of them say so?  Why didn't at least one of them write about it in one of the uninspired non-canonical writings immediately after AD 70?  Wasn't it a significant event?  Or was it so ho-hum that they ignored it and went right on their merry way with their  lives as if nothing had happened?  How could those who "waited so anxiously"  at fever pitch for His parousia and said "Maranatha" all of a sudden become so indifferent after His parousia? 

Something is drastically wrong with this picture!  The silence is SCREAMING -- a "deafening" silence so LOUD that even our critics have heard it. Why haven't we?

Where's the beef?  Why didn't apostle John state clearly for the record that the things he had just written in the book of Revelation had now been fulfilled?  If he was still around and had not been "received to Christ" like John 14:3 promised, then was he so disillusioned by the non-fulfillment of John 14:3 and the lack of seeing the parousia that perhaps he was struck dumb and was unable to say anything?  Or maybe he lost all memory of what Jesus had said and just decided (like Roman Catholic tradition asserts) to go through the countryside teaching nice "love one another" platitudes and avoid mentioning the HUGE events that had just occurred?  Preposterous, you say?  Exactly!  It would take more blind faith to believe that, than to simply understand that Christ kept his word and "received [the remaining disciples] to Himself" along with all the other faithful true sanctified believers who "waited anxiously" for His return, and whose "spirits and souls and BODIES" were preserved complete and blameless until the parousia (1 Thes. 5:23), at which time they were "caught up" (1 Thes. 4:15-17) to accompany Him during the three and a half years of His parousia presence (AD 66-70). 

It is obvious from what little writings we have from the period (AD 70-150) that the whole post-70 Church was unaware of Christ's return in AD 70.  And we have no writings of any apostles or their close disciples after AD 70.  For some reason we do not know anything for certain about WHEN they died, WHERE they died, HOW they died, or where they were buried.  They vanish without a trace.  All the traveling companions of Paul (Silas, Luke, Timothy, Titus, Gaius, Aristarchus, etc.) are silent.  It is not likely that they all died in the persecution.  Surely several of them would have survived the  "tribulation" and lived on beyond AD 70.  There is a tradition that the Christians (evidently the mere "professing" ones only) who fled to Pella returned to Jerusalem later after the war.  Why were they so silent after AD 70?  Why didn't some of them explain the significance of this event, and mention the fulfillment of Christ's return, the resurrection and judgment?  Did they fail to "recognize the time of [His] visitation" the second time,  the same way the Jews missed it the first time (cf. Lk. 19:44)?  Or were all those who saw His return simply "snatched away?" 

I see this silence as the very proof of the rapture at the parousia.  They wrote nothing about it because they were no longer around to write about it.  Surely if apostle John and those other leaders of the pre-70 church had still been around at the time of the parousia they would have seen it and said something about it.  Silence can only be explained by one of two things:  either non-fulfillment of the parousia, or a rapture removal.  The silence allows no other options. 



 DIDN'T JOHN & OTHERS LIVE BEYOND AD 70?

Those reading this might very well object that there is a strong tradition that John the apostle lived beyond AD 70 until the reign of Domitian.  If he did, the "reception into heaven" promise of John 14:3 was not fulfilled.  It  means John would have been left behind, and that cannot be.  If John's longevity beyond AD 70 could be proven, it would certainly bring the rapture theory into serious question. 

The continuation of apostle John beyond AD 70 is a complex historical problem, as Kenneth Gentry has noted in his book, BEFORE JERUSALEM FELL (pages 47ff).  Since Gentry believes the rapture is merely the "catching up" of all living saints to heaven at a supposed yet future "end of history," he naturally has no problem believing John lived beyond AD 70, but he mentions  that there are those who did take another position on that.  Some church father writings failed to understand which "Domitian" was being discussed in  regard to the persecution of Christians.  What is not widely known is that  one of Nero's legal names was "Domitian."  This created confusion about WHEN John was exiled to Patmos.  Since the tradition said John was exiled by "Domitian" they assumed it was the later one, not Nero.  So those statements about John living until the reign of Domitian may have reference to Nero (Domitian) and not to the later Domitian.  This becomes significantly more probable when we see references to this "Domitian" being the "Tyrant," a term which was most often used in reference to Nero.  Here is what Foy Wallace says about this in his commentary on the book of Revelation: "...facts which are stated with authority and clarity by [Milton S.] Terry, an accomplished scholar, are corroborated with the same indubitable and historical evidence by MacDonald in The Life and Writings of John.  This together with the statement of the scholarly Robert Young that Sulpicius,  Orosius and others, had stupidly mistaken the reference to Domitius (Nero)  for Domitian, and that 'succeeding writers have fallen into the same blunder,' has created so much divergence of opinion and confusion..." [Foy Wallace, The Book of Revelation, p. 26]

This tradition about there being two different "Domitians" (one of them Nero) is not the only evidence against John's longevity on the earth beyond AD 70.  There is also church father evidence that there were two different "Johns" in Ephesus.  Eusebius seemed quite certain there was another "John the Presbyter" who was confused with "John the apostle." (see Eusebius'  Ecclesiastical History, Book 7, Chapter 25, and other references to two different Johns).  The traditions we have about John the apostle after AD 70  are so muddled and confused that nothing certain can be based on them, especially when we see the Roman Catholic church using those traditions to buttress their universal control of Christianity.  The case can be made that the Roman church invented, embellished and propagated these theories for their own ecclesiastical purposes. 

We know that John and "some" of the other twelve apostles would live up until  the time of the Parousia (Mat. 16:27f), but there is no clear reference to  their staying on earth afterwards.  In fact, we have some fairly clear statements that they would not remain on earth, but rather go to heaven where Christ was at His parousia (John 14:3).

The statements in John 21:22-23 when compared to Mat. 16:28; John 14:3, 1 Cor. 15:51 and 1 Thes. 4:13-17 are interesting.  John was promised that he would remain until Christ returned, at which time he and the other remaining apostles would be "received" to heaven where Christ was.  Some might have simply thought that meant that he would never die (if they were aware of Jesus' promise to the apostles to "receive them to himself" at the parousia).

 John is quick to point out that it did not necessarily mean that he wouldn't die.  BUT, and this is the big point that is missed by most, John didn't rule out the possibility that he might NOT live on earth beyond the parousia.  If there were no thoughts of a possible "ascension" or "rapture" he would have quickly and clearly affirmed that he would eventually die.  The way John hedges his statements here looks to me like he remembered what Jesus had promised in Mat. 19:28 and John 14:3.  He was holding out the hope that he would be "received to Christ" at the parousia to sit on one of the twelve thrones at Christ's side as He judged and avenged their persecutors for three and a half years (AD 66-70).  If John had this "reception into heaven" in mind at the time he wrote the book (and I certainly believe that he did),  then he is simply saying that he will remain alive on earth until the parousia, at which time he would be caught up to be with Christ to sit on one of the 12 thrones.  He may not have been sure what this meant for his physical body, similar to Paul's uncertainty about his being caught up to the third heaven.  He didn't know whether it was "in the body" or "out of the body."  I see John 14:3 and Mat. 19:28 in the background of his statements in John 21:22, both texts implying a rapture of the apostles at Christ's return.  This explains why John is seemingly so guarded about whether he would die or not.  He wasn't exactly sure what that would be like and what it would mean for his physical body. 

I believe John and the rest of the remaining apostles and true Christians (the "saints" or sanctified ones) were "caught up" to be with Christ at His parousia (but not the mere professing or untrue Christians).  If they had still been around after AD 70 they would have mentioned the fulfillments that  had just occurred, especially if apostle John was one of the ones still around.  John literally "wrote the book" on AD 70 (the book of Revelation). 

For him to have been around afterwards and not mention the fulfillments of the book he wrote is more than a "documentation problem."  It would raise serious objections against the whole preterist view.  I think the full weight of this problem needs to be felt by preterists, and answered in a convincing way.  We have brushed it off and ignored it to our own hurt.  It's time we took it seriously and dealt with it. 

This silence not only affects the Preterist view, but the partial preterist as well.  If AD 70 was some kind of "judgment coming" in some sense as they suggest, why didn't some of the post-70 writers who lived on both sides of AD 70 mention the fulfillments of Mat. 24:1-34, at least as a limited coming idea?  We don't even have that!  It is as if AD 70 never happened.  They don't even mention it, much less even give it some kind of limited coming status. 

If John the apostle was still around and saw no value in explaining or even mentioning the incredible fulfillments of his book, why should we?  Was it because he didn't understand the fulfillments, or was it because he simply did not SEE Christ at his parousia?  The later facilitates the former.  If he didn't SEE the parousia, then he would not have understood the fulfillment, and would not have been able to claim or explain the fulfillment.  In 1 John 2:18,28 and 3:2 he indicates that they would KNOW it when Christ returned, and would SEE it happen.  Well, did they?  Or did even John the apostle fail to "recognize the time of His visitation" the same way the Jews did? John was supposed to be sitting on a throne judging the 12 tribes after Christ's return, not meandering about the Ephesian countryside delivering quiet platitudes about  "love one another" (as the Roman Catholics would have us believe).   I simply see it as more consistent to believe that John was "received" up into heaven at the parousia where he sat with Christ in judgment upon the Jewish nation during that three and one half year "presence" (AD 66-70) of Christ (the parousia).  If he had still remained on earth, he would surely have recognized the fulfillments and said something about it.



WHAT ABOUT THOSE LEFT BEHIND?

Those left behind simply did not realize what had happened. They might have thought the leadership all died in the tribulation, or were exiled, put in prison, or otherwise consumed by the Romans in their galley ships, theaters, or mining camps.  They were not spiritually discerning and therefore missed the parousia, resurrection, rapture and judgment.  They were spiritually asleep when Christ returned.

It is also possible that the number of folks "snatched away" might have been smaller than we think.  In Luke 18:8 Jesus said, "...when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?"  And in Mat. 24:10-24, "At that time many will fall away ... Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. ...most people's love will grow cold. ...For false Christs and false prophets  will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if  possible, even the elect."  There is a significant implication here that there might not be a large number of true saints left at the time of Christ's return. 

Because the ones left behind were not true Christians at the time of the rapture, they were not spiritually discerning enough to recognize that the Parousia had taken place. They couldn't document something they didn't see or even know occurred.  They were like the 50 prophets who watched as Elijah was taken to heaven in chariots of fire.  They did not see what Elisha saw.  They were not spiritual enough to see into the heavenly realm like Elisha was (2 Kings 2).  All they saw was a tornado whisk Elijah up into the air.  They went looking for his body for three days, in spite of the fact that Elisha told them what had really happened. 

The ones "left behind" did not know that Christ had returned, and had not seen it because they were not allowed to be privy to it.  So they could not tell anyone about it.  This absence of the true Christians immediately after AD 70 would certainly explain the "deafening silence" that occurred, and the lack of information we have about all the apostles and their close disciples  and traveling companions.

The post-70 "left behind" church had the writings of the apostles (our New Testament) to plant in the hearts of men and grow a new crop of Christians.   And that is how the church perpetuated itself, in spite of the fact that the apostles and their traveling companions and all the true and faithful Christians were "snatched away."



HOW DID THIS AFFECT THE ON-GOING CHURCH?

In the second century when it became apparent to the church fathers that the eschatological events had not occurred in the first generation as predicted (according to their nature of fulfillment expectations), they began to separate the redemptive prophecies from the eschatological prophecies.  They started claiming the redemptive prophecies had been fulfilled, but that the eschatological prophecies were still future (but imminent).   There are occasional references in the Church Fathers to a complete fulfillment of the "soteriological" (redemptive) prophecies, mainly in the apologists against  the Jews.  But nowhere do they claim the eschatological prophecies were fulfilled. 

In the NT the apostles discussed soteriology (salvation) in tight connection with eschatology (final things).  By the middle of the second century, the Church Fathers had already disconnected eschatology from soteriology and were claiming that all the soteriology was fulfilled, but that the eschatology was still future. 

By the middle of the second century they began to postulate a slight delay in the return of Christ.  In my debate with Joseph Balyeat (1992) posted on the IPA web site (www.preterist.org), and in my two responses to Dr. Kenneth Gentry (STEVENS RESPONSE TO GENTRY) and Gary DeMar (QUESTIONS ABOUT THE AFTERLIFE) available in book form from IPA, I explained how this shift in the Church's understanding of the TIMING occurred.

This ignorance of the left behind folks also explains why the church went into immediate confusion and made so many departures from the NT patterns so soon after AD 70.  Their leadership was gone.  But at least they did have the  writings of the NT to guide them, and those should have been sufficient to keep them on track.  But they didn't follow them closely enough. 



WHEN DID THIS OCCUR AND HOW DO WE LABEL IT?

So where does this place the rapture chronologically, and how do we classify this particular rapture position in relation to the tribulation?  I see the rapture as occurring in AD 66, at the time the Jewish war with Rome was shaping up. This was the time when Christ appeared, raised the rest of the dead out of Hades, raptured the "living and remaining ones" and began his three and a half year PRESENCE (Parousia) from AD 66-70.

Josephus mentions that they saw the angelic armies in the clouds in AD 66 just before the war with Rome began. Tacitus, Eusebius and the Talmudic writings also mention these same kinds of things happening at this time.  The faithful saints, the true believers (not the mere "professers" or "sleepers" who were left behind) were "caught up" to accompany Christ and His angelic  armies the whole time while their persecutors (the Jews) were being destroyed  (AD 66-70).  This was the three and a half year parousia (presence) of Christ to judge the Jewish nation for their covenantal unfaithfulness and vindicate the Church.  So, here's the chronological sequence that I'm suggesting for the rapture:

1. AD 62-66 (Satan released for short time -- Great Tribulation on the Church)
2. AD 66 (the Return of Christ, Resurrection, Rapture)
3. AD 66-70 (Christ's continued presence for Wrath and Judgment)

Notice there is a seven-year period involved here.  The rapture occurs in the middle of that period after the Great Tribulation on the Church, but before the Wrath is poured out upon the Jewish nation.  This would be classified as a "mid-trib" or pre-wrath position, depending on how the "tribulation" is defined.  If both the tribulation on the church and the wrath outpouring on  the Jewish nation are included in the definition of the "tribulation" then the rapture would be "mid-trib."  If we define "tribulation" as being only the tribulation on the church, and the wrath outpouring as what happened to the unbelieving Jews, then this concept of the rapture could be called "post-trib, pre-wrath."  But the best term to classify it is "mid-trib." 

I understand the Parousia to have been a three and a half year PRESENCE (AD 66-70) in which He judged the Jewish nation for "all the blood that has been  shed on earth from the blood of Abel" until AD 66.  Christ came in AD 66 to begin that judgment.  He resurrected the dead out of Hades (in the unseen realm) and "snatched away" his living and remaining true saints to him in the heavenly realm.  The twelve apostles sat on thrones next to him as He rode the heavens with his angelic armies to judge the Jewish nation.  They all accompanied Christ in the unseen heavenly realm and watched their vindication and avengement upon the Jewish nation. 



HAD ANYTHING LIKE THIS HAPPENED BEFORE?

Some questions we need to consider:  Why is this rapture idea so difficult for modern thinkers to accept?  Is it really something totally new that God had never done before?  Why didn't the ones left behind see it happen, or at least discern that it had happened? 

I suspect that one of the big reasons why so many folks today have difficulty accepting the idea of a rapture is because of our technological mindset which considers supernatural events a little far-fetched and hard to believe.  So many of us look for a naturalistic explanation for every miracle in the Bible so that we can minimize the miraculous events down to a "safe" non-threatening level.  This is nothing more than "dumbing down" the Bible to fit our modern mindset, rather than educating our hearts to understand what the Biblical writers were really saying. 

There is nothing "out of character" for God to rescue or reward His servants  with something like a rapture or an escape from threatening circumstances.   He had done similar things many times throughout the Bible (e.g. Enoch, Noah, Lot, Jacob, Joseph, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Elijah, Moses & the Exodus, and all the resurrections of folks). 

Elijah and Elisha were "seers" in the sense that they could see into the spiritual realm and see angelic activity that all other humans were not permitted to see.  Apostle Paul was "caught up" into the third heaven to see  some of those things.  John in the book of Revelation was also able to "see" these things.  The two witnesses in Rev. 11 were taken up to heaven, as was the male child in Rev. 12.  Stephen at his martyrdom saw Jesus standing in the heavenly realm.  Philip was "snatched away" from the desert road and  found himself at Azotus.  The angels became visible at Jesus' birth.  The transfiguration enabled some of Jesus' disciples to see Moses and Elijah who were not normally visible.  The ascension was attended by two angels, and they saw Jesus ascend into the Glory Cloud.  Apostle Paul saw and heard things at his conversion that no others standing close by were able to discern.  Enoch and Elijah were actually "caught up" in a similar way to Jesus' ascension, without experiencing physical death. 

The parousia of Christ in AD 66 was attended with his angels.  Josephus records the sighting of the angels in the clouds.  This was one of those "theophanies" which had repeatedly occurred throughout the Old Testament  period.  God's presence and activity was not always seen by human eyes .   Usually it only "appeared" to those to whom God wished it to be seen by.

 There were those occasions when the clouds were literally rolled back like a scroll to open a window into the heavenly realm so that men on earth could see what was going on there.  This is not "out of character" for God's dealings with his creatures.  It is simply "out of experience" for people since God consummated his plan of redemption at AD 70.  It is not something that we have seen since AD 70.  Therefore, we have a hard time believing it  happened back then also. 

It was only seen by those whom Christ wanted it to be seen by.  That was the way the "theophanies" of God throughout redemptive history always occurred. 

They were not seen by everyone.  Sometimes it was only the enemies who saw His appearance just before they were destroyed, or only the righteous, true followers of God who were spiritual enough to be allowed to see it.  The rest were left in the dark, or "left behind."  The parable of the wise and foolish virgins, and other passages about being sanctified and blameless in order to  "see" the Lord at His parousia  give us a hint that those who were "foolish" or not "sanctified" would not see this event, nor even know that it occurred.

 It evidently was a matter of "spiritual discernment."  There is nothing at  all "out of character" with the sightings of angelic armies in the clouds mentioned by Josephus.  It perfectly fits the OT pattern of theophanies and angelic appearances.  This was a real event that historically validates the prophetic accounts in our NT.  Jesus said there would be angels with Him when He returned in the clouds.  Why should it surprise us if it really happened that way?  Why is it so hard to believe? 

The ones left behind did not recognize the time of Christ's visitation, and therefore did not teach a fulfilled eschatology.  But they kept right on thinking and teaching that Christ's return was imminent in their lifetime and in their generation, until it became evident in the second century that it had not been fulfilled according to their expectations of the TIME.  There were three writers who suggested this delay concept (Shepherd of Hermas, Justin, and 2 Clement).  They started manipulating the time statements by suggesting there might be a slight delay (but still imminent).  That delay got extended further and further until eventually there was no thought of anything but an indefinite delay.  It never seemed to occur to them that their expectations about the NATURE of the event had been wrong and that the event had already occurred.



HAS ANYONE ELSE EVER SUGGESTED THIS?

I am not the first one to invent this rapture idea.  Four scholars a century ago (J.S. Russell, Milton S. Terry, Richard Weymouth, and Ernest Hampden-Cook) suggested the AD 70 rapture idea, and wrote several pages in defense of it in their books. They suggested that there may have been a rapture of the true Christians, so that the mere professing (but not true) "Christians" were left behind to carry on.  I am merely reminding all of us about their theory, and asking us to keep it in the back of our mind as the best way (maybe the only way) of resolving the "documentation problem." 

These four scholars were certainly not superstitious wackos.  They were well-educated theologians of their day, yet understood the spiritual way in which God accomplishes his work.  They recognized that the rapture fit the pattern of God's theophanies and redemptive work in the Old Testament.

And the rapture idea was not invented in the 1800's by a Scottish girl named MacDonald.  Numerous church fathers mention the "catching up" in their discussion about the end time events.  The Greek fathers especially used it  in the sense of a literal catching up from the earth into heaven.  They were in a much better position to know what it meant than we are.  If they understood the Greek word "harpazo" to mean a literal "snatching away" from earth to heaven, it would be a little presumptuous for us to redefine the word using some spiritualizing concept.  So it is not new at all to suggest that the saints would be "caught up" from earth to heaven at the parousia.   The early church understood it that way and mentioned it in their writings.



CONCLUSION:

In summation, I would affirm that the rapture scenario that I have outlined here provides a much better explanation of the "documentation problem" for the parousia, resurrection and judgment than any that have surfaced so far in the preterist movement. And I believe it provides the reason why there was such a remarkable silence in the period immediately after AD 70 when we would expect the early church to be announcing the parousia in a big way.  Documentation was lacking because there was no one left behind to tell the  story. 

This is the only historically plausible explanation I have seen to account for the ignorance of the post-70 church.  If there was not a rapture, there should have been plenty of Christians still around after AD 70 who had witnessed the Parousia, and some of them (especially the apostles or their traveling companions) would have said something about it if they were still around.  If apostle John was still around (which this rapture theory denies), surely he would have said something about what he had just seen at AD 70.  It is impossible (in my thinking) for John to have still been on earth after AD 70 and not say something about the Parousia having occurred.  The only way Preterists can have a plausible explanation for this "deafening silence" is a rapture.

We modern preterists have danced around this problem and swept it under the carpet for decades.  We have lacked a historically, grammatically and contextually credible answer.  So far the only thing that has been forthcoming is what those four scholars (Russell, Terry, Weymouth, Hampden-Cook) suggested a century ago -- a rapture!  

This theory is the only explanation that has answered the problem in a convincing and satisfactory manner for me.  It makes more sense to me than any of the other theories that have been offered so far.  The texts I mentioned above, the "documentation problem," and the "deafening silence" have forced me to move in this direction.  All I can do is urge you to take a serious look at it.  If it doesn't make sense to you, no problem.  Let me know what you think about it.  Would love to have your evaluation of it.  Thanks for considering it.

First Edition -- May 1, 2002
Printed Copy available for $4.00 (including postage)

(c) Copyright 2002 by the author, Ed Stevens.  All Rights Reserved.

Published by:
International Preterist Association.
122 Seaward Avenue
Bradford Pennsylvania 16701 USA
Phone:  814-368-6578
Email:  preterist1@aol.com
Visit our website at:  www.preterist.org

What do YOU think ?

Submit Your Comments For Posting Here
Comment Box Disabled For Security


Date:

02 May 2002

Time:

10:40:13

Comments

I find no sense in this explanation at all. I am rather suspicious of it's sincerity. First of all, the reason for lack of documentation was because Christians were being killed well after 70AD. The church was basically underground for some time. You don't write a lot of documentation when you are hiding and trying to survive, not to mention trying to make sense out of what happened. I think the expectation that everybody knew that 70AD was the fulfillment is unrealistic. Some times it takes years to realize the significance of an event. They didn't have CNN to tell them how to think in those days. Secondly, the whole subject of apostolic tradition has some how evading the thinking here. The scriptures clearly lay out instructions to pick leaders to carry on the church. They are written with both the sense of immediate trouble, and yet an long future. Finally the fact that we are here today should be evidence enough. If the rapture happened as of 70AD and one is satisifed to think that Paul was referring to the rapture in his letters to the Thessalonians, then one must conclude that we are not the church, but rather a dead and hopeless continuation of humanity. Finally a simple word study can help. Search out all the occurences of the word Harpadzo. You will find that it has nothing to do with what we are being lead to believe is the rapture. In Revelation it is said that Christ is caught up unto God, but remember that Christ actually died. If one wants to make a case that the rapture is our transition into our eternal states, that is another matter. But if one wants to suggest that the Left Behind scenario is what the Bible is talking about, then we have to go back and re-invent all our Biblical interpretations. Finally one last note on 2Thes. 2:1. Again a little word study is in order. The other occurence of this word is in Hebrews 10:25. It is more than clear this is a reference to the gathering together to worship. It is not the rapture. We can't allow ourselves to redefine words each time they are used. And if Paul is the author of Hebrews as many think, one would expect him to have used the same words and the same meanings, wouldn't one? Just one more note on the word rapture. I understand that there is a Latin translation at work here, but consider for a moment what rapture meant before the left behinders mutilated the word. It is the idea of being in ecstacy, or complete joy. It is a word that decribes one's emotional state, not their physical location. One can be in rapture and never leave the room. Dan Schaertel dschaertel@yahoo.com


Date:

02 May 2002

Time:

10:49:30

Comments

The concern I have with a 70 A.D. physical rapture is WHY? What would be the purpose of having a rapture---then---and have no true believers left on the earth to carry on (somehow) the faith newly consummated in the redemptive work of Christ? This goes counter to the process of developing the early church, with the miraculous presence of the Holy Spirit to lead them to maturity (so that they would no longer needed the miraculous), for the purpose of firmly establishing the kingdom of God for sucessive generations.


Date:

02 May 2002

Time:

15:51:32

Comments

Just got me thinking. What about the mystery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. I seem to recall that their origin is an oft debated mystery, and there does not seem to be any trace of the people who left them there. Did the "brothers" in Jerusalem take the scrolls out of the City when the Roman armies showed up, store them in the caves, and then disappear off the face of the earth? Just a thought.


Date:

02 May 2002

Time:

15:52:14

Comments

So you are saying that all the "true" believers were raptured from the earth in 66AD because there are no writings from that time period or in the next many years from believers. That would mean that all over the world, where the Gospel had spread, that "true" believers were snatched away. Did not anyone have relatives or friends or other church members who noticed these people missing? Why are there not any stories or rumors or handed down oral tradition that alludes to the missing people? You mentioned Old and New Testament incidents of extraordinary raptures, like Elijah and Philip, etc. Why would there be no stories like this retold about loved and true disciples disappearing? I find it very hard to believe that NO ONE would say, "Write that down!" This all sounds a little far fetched to me. I'm a full preterist but I think we really need to be careful when we think too hard! Maybe some things will never be answered this side of eternity and that's where faith is tested. There is enough information in the written Word of God and corroborating histories to understand that Christ's work is completely finished and He is the ruler of the kingdom of God thru the work of the Holy Spirit to all who are willing to be obedient to his leading. Let's not give Preterism (truth) a bad name by going down rabbit trails.


Date:

02 May 2002

Time:

16:55:46

Comments

Agreed. What a waste of energy and focus this is (for us all, not just Ed). Such focus on setting personal landmarks is too indicative of Futurist Christianity, imo.. Thanks, Todd, for all the hard work! Chuck (fully Preterist and fully non-physical-rapturist Preterist)


Date:

02 May 2002

Time:

16:56:09

Comments

I find your rapture theory to be needless. It is literalism at its worst and a misunderstanding of what Paul told the Thessalonians. If reformed preterism is going this way, I want nothing to do with it. I will stick with fulfilled eschatology, rather than your IBD theories.


Date:

02 May 2002

Time:

18:50:52

Comments

I see at least one big problem with this scenario: According to Kenneth Gentry in "Before Jerusalem Fell," we have a paper trail from at Second Century sources that says the Apostle John, the author of Revelation, was seen alive near the end of the First Century. For example, Clement of Alexandria (AD 150-215) says that John was still excercising leadership over the churches of Asia Minor, in extreme old age, "after the death of the tyrant" (interpreted to be Nero, as Gentry and preterists in general believe). Irenaeus apparently also wrote that John was seen alive in the time of Domitian. For reference, see Chapters 4 & 5 of Gentry's book. Brian Reilly


Date:

03 May 2002

Time:

00:38:47

Comments

Dear E. Stevens, I found J.S. Russell's rapture theory interesting when I read it. Your expansion of the matter does warrant some consideration, and even sincere debate. There is a silent period, and we are missing valued history in this gap of post AD 70 writings. There is another gap of silence we must face as preterists. There is no mention in any historical record about known Christians disappearing between AD 66 and AD 70. This 'silence' is also deafening. This silence, without new evidence, does cast great doubt on the idea of a rapture, and places the idea beyond the realm of sound reason, unless we start finding new accounts supporting the matter. Scripture must indeed direct our view here, but there are reasonable and plain ways of understanding the meaning of the New Testament passages involved, without demanding a physical rapture taking all the known Christians off the planet. In conclusion, we do need to look at the evidence and the scripture on this matter, but we need to tread through the matter with a sober, and even skeptical, mindset. Great care must be used not to confuse passages about the resurrection transformation that occurred with rapture passages, if any exsist. Questions need to be asked: Are any passages truly rapture passages, or do they refer to resurrection matters? Are there any extra biblical sources to support a physical rapture? If there is a physical gathering of those alive (a rapture) did those present ascend to heaven or return to their lives after "the battle"? (I refer to those seen above the city as recorded in the account by Josephus) Is there any passage in scripture where the Greek demands seeing a different act of gathering other than the resurrection / harvest model started by our Lord? Does scripture demand a physical rapture and not a physical resurrection of the saints? There are many other questions, and my purpose here is simple, I want to suggest we need more dialog, thought, study, history, and research prior to reaching any other conclusions. We also need to recognize how important it is to stick to an understanding of scripture which encourages us to try to see the pain and most likely meaning of the author and the understanding of the audience in their culture and context. Many passages seem to have plain meaning to us with our "filter" of modernity, but too many times those filters place us far off from the intent of the passages. History will one day look at the debates within Preterism and external to it, and will see a lot of foolish words have been exchanged, often without the love that is supposed to be a characteristic of our faith. Let's look at this doctrine with the freedom to be foolish and to examine the whole of scripture and history honestly, but let us preserve love and sound thinking along the way. Thank you for your courage in raising the issue. Sincerely, Michael Carney michael@powertolive.com http://www.powertolive.com/ 


Date:

03 May 2002

Time:

12:23:40

Comments

Tremendous article! It needed saying. Reading the negative comments by many, I am reminded that when God spoke some said "It thundered."


Date:

03 May 2002

Time:

16:10:46

Comments

Oh brother!


Date:

07 May 2002

Time:

22:14:56

Comments

Dear Ed Stephens, Great article and openess to the spirtual realm.As i was becoming a full preterist,the physical rapture of ALL saints back then,by 70AD,was a distinct possibility. Now I am considering it even more.After 70AD I am sure the true church of the living God continued on.It is to bad that maney who read this will not CAREFULLY consider the ramifications of what you are saying.Tradition always seems to get in the way of most peoples seeking the truth. sincerly,ED Berry


Date:

07 May 2002

Time:

23:28:19

Comments

In a comment before this one, someone said, "...As i was becoming a full preterist,the physical rapture of ALL saints back then,by 70AD,was a distinct possibility. Now I am considering it even more. After 70AD I am sure the true church of the living God continued on...." Question: If "ALL saints" were physically raptured back then, then HOW could "the true church of the living God" have "CONTINUED ON??" If the true Apostolic Church was physically raptured back then, then something absolutely DISCONNECTED from the true Apostolic Church CAME INTO BEING on Earth after the rapture. What could have existed after the rapture? It could *not* have been the Church that Jesus bought with His own blood, for that whole Body --that whole Temple of the living God-- was completely removed from among men! BTW, something needs to be cleared up: This doctrine of a rapture of "all true believers" is *NOT* (not, not, not) what J. Stuart Russell, or Milton S. Terry, or Ernest Hampden-Cook taught. (To my knowledge Richard Weymouth made no statement on the rapture.) J. Stuart Russell taught a "*PARTIAL* rapture," and Milton S. Terry and Ernest Hampden-Cook followed Russell in that belief. This is crucial. According to J. Stuart Russell, the Church remained firmly planted on the earth, and only *some* of the true believers were physically raptured. In other words, Russell left the New Jerusalem where God put it: On Earth. Among men. The doctrine that "*ALL* true believers" were physically raptured is a RADICAL DEPARTURE from Russell, and constitutes an attack against the legitimacy of post-Apostolic Christianity. The whole removal of the true Tabernacle of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit from the planet in A.D. 66 leaves us naked and homeless, without a covenant, and without hope in the world. Are we beginning to see the profoundly disturbing implications of this doctrine? Dave http://www.strato.net/~dagreen/pretcosmos.html


Date:

09 May 2002

Time:

09:43:48

Comments

"....In My Father's house are many dwellings; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, you may be also." (Jn. 14:2-3) Jesus was not going to take the Church "out of the world" into Heaven. (Jn. 17:15) He and the Father were going to descend "out of Heaven" and make Their Dwelling in the Church: "Jesus answered and said to him, If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our Dwelling with him." (Jn. 14:23) The "Place" that Jesus was going to "prepare" for His disciples was the New Jerusalem: "But as it is, they desire a better Country, that is a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a City for them." (Heb. 11:16) The heavenly "Tabernacle" / "Dwelling" / "Place" / "Country" / "City" / "House" of God descended "from out of Heaven" to be "among men." (II Cor. 5:2; I Thess. 4:16; Rev. 3:12; 21:2-3,10) The Church was "clothed" with that Dwelling (I Cor. 15:52-54; II Cor. 5:2-4) --which is Christ Himself, (Rom. 13:14; Gal. 3:27; 4:19; Eph. 3:14-16; 4:13; II Peter 1:19) the incorruptible "New Man." (Eph. 4:20-24; Col. 3:1) Jesus went to the Father so that He might pour out the indwelling "Spirit of truth" upon His elect. (Acts 2:33; Jn. 14:16-17) It was through the Holy Spirit that He "prepared" (Rev. 19:7; 21:2) His heavenly "House." (I Peter 2:5; Heb. 3:5-6) When the temporary, worldly, earthly, hand-made house was thrown down, (in A.D. 70) it was manifest that the Father and the Son had made Their eternal Habitation in and among believers. (Jn. 14:20; Rom. 8:13-14; II Cor. 4:18 - 5:1-2; Heb. 9:1-10; I Jn. 2:24; Rev. 21:22) Since that Day, God's children are where Jesus is: with the Father (Jn. 10:38; 14:10-11) in the Holies. (Heb. 9:8-10; 10:19) Through the incorruptible blood, believers are granted face to Face fellowship and union with the Father and the Son. (Jn. 17:15-21; I Jn. 1:3; 2:24; II Jn. 1:9) This is the unfading and transcendent Glory of the New Covenant. (Jn. 17:24; II Cor. 3:7-18)


Date:

09 May 2002

Time:

09:59:48

Comments

Jesus said "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away." (Matt 24:35) We have God's word with us to this day-that's all we need. But it poses the question: How did the New Testament get carried through the tribulation to the post Apostolic church? If all the saints were physically ratured who came along and picked the the gospels, epistles, and Revelation?


Date:

09 May 2002

Time:

10:42:30

From: Preterist1@aol.com - PretCosmos Daily Digest
Subject: Butchering the rapture text!

[FROM ED STEVENS] Harden & Curtis have taken a position that can not be defended exegetically. The text clearly says that the "catching up" (whatever it is) was something that would happen to those who "live and remain until the parousia."

If Harden and Curtis' view was correct, it would mean that Paul was saying something radically different -- that those who "die after AD 70 would be caught up to heaven at their death." Can you see the problem? Paul is not talking about what would happen at death to saints after AD 70. He is talking about a "catching up" that would occur AT the parousia to those living saints who "live and remain until the parousia." This idea has not been fairly dealt with by Harden or Curtis.

They have stedfastly refused to acknowledge this clear language in the text, even though I repeatedly asked them to deal with it. However you define the "catching up" (whether it is a "spiritual gathering into the heavenly holy of holies" or a "rapture"), it clearly was something that would occur AT the parousia to "living and remaining ones" who would "live and remain until the parousia." It is not something that would happen to dead folks after AD 70. Dead folks were raised. The living would be "caught up" at the parousia. It was not those who died after AD 70, but those who "lived and remained until the parousia." Look at the text carefully. Don't read into it what you want to be there. Follow closely what the text actually says. You can take another position besides the rapture without distorting the text. I took the other position ("spiritual gathering into the heavenly holy of holies") for the first 20 years of my preterist ministry. There is nothing wrong with that non-rapture position. It honors the language in the text.

There is no need to butcher the text in order to avoid taking the rapture position. All I'm doing is taking another possible meaning of "caught up" and applying it to the correctly exegeted text. If you don't like the rapture concept, simply take the other "spiritual gathering" concept approach. But don't murder the text by trying to make it say something that it cannot possibly say. Check the commentaries on this! Don't butcher the text!

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PretCosmos/message/1243

[FROM ED] As usual, when only bits and pieces of a theological position are
heard, misunderstanding and misrepresentation will always occur. That is the
case here with the Rapture view. Everyone is rushing to MIS-judgment about
something they have only heard bits and pieces of. Wait until the book comes
out (pretty soon). Read it. Then make your judgments after you have the
facts. NO, I absolutely am NOT "saying that in AD70 everything was done,
including the Kingdom." That is a HUGE misrepresentation of my position.  Please, everyone, simply get the book and examine the position before flaming it and trashing it.  You may wish later that you had taken a careful look at it.  You don't want to be guilty before God of "falsely accusing" your brother.


Date:

10 May 2002

Time:

11:51:31

Comments

And all this time I thought Dan Harden was Ed Steven's closest doctrinal ally..  How is it that now it is Stevens vs. Harden(/Curtis)?   I agree with Ed -- we should drop this ridiculous discussion, for our own good, at least until the book comes out.  By the way, we should also reject the divisionism of Preterists.  Let's face it - we are all coming from slightly different places theologically.  Do we really need multiple labels for each Preterist, lest we be lumped into the same group with our brothers in tribulation?   Let's stay "on message" by talking about the spiritual nature of the Parousia and the Word instead.

Todd Dennis


Date:

11 May 2002

Time:

09:38:13

Comments

"We will not, however, incur the risk of pronouncing positively as to the name of Antichrist; for if it were necessary that his name should be distinctly revealed in this present time, it would have been announced by him who beheld the apocalyptic vision. For ____ was seen no very long time since, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian's reign." Well, it was apparently important enough for Irenaeus to mention that John was seen "almost" in his day. But if John lasted only as long as the average apostle, that is, into the decade of the 60s, then John's "almost" being seen in Irenaeus' day is not seemingly worth special mention at all. The other apostles could then be said to have lived almost to Irenaeus' day too. In light of Stevens' article, we are ssemingly left with two options: 1) "Irenaeus was wrong on the timing of John being seen alive, so let's dismiss the data," or 2) "AD 66 was almost in Irenaeus' day, like Abraham Lincoln was almost a contemporary of mine." Neither option seems appropriate, but I don't mind the liberty of thought.


Date:

11 May 2002

Time:

16:44:00

Comments

In response to the "Irenaeus arguement" we might ask: Was Irenaeus ever mistaken about any other statements he made? Arthur Melanson


Date:

11 May 2002

Time:

20:50:40

Comments

I think that what brother Ed is trying to do, "explain the silence", is admirable. However, the obvious regression into a "literal hermeneutic" to explain certain texts (the rapture) in order to answer the silence argument posed by critics, does not seem very helpful. As already indicated, this creates more silence! I will certainly read your views with an open mind. Tracy V


Date:

12 May 2002

Time:

02:46:01

Comments

PREVIOUS COMMENT: "Jesus said 'Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.' (Matt 24:35) We have God's word with us to this day-that's all we need." MY RESPONSE: No one is questioning the sufficiency of Scripture. The problem with the idea of the *entire* Church being removed from the planet in A.D. 66 is that it means the Temple that Christ built on Earth through the Holy Spirit was completely taken away, and was replaced with *something else.* It means that what Christ died to establish on Earth was disestablished, and was replaced with *something else.* The removal of the *entire* Church from the planet in A.D. 66 creates a _radical discontinuity_ that necessarily implies the end of the Christian (New Covenant) Age in A.D. 66. As Jonathan Companik said recently: "There are serious and heretical implications behind this view, regardless of the pure intentions or motives of those espousing the position." --Dave Green


Date:

12 May 2002

Time:

11:02:16

Comments

To Arthur Melanson: Do we therefore remove from any consideration what Ireneaus said about A, because of the questionableness of what he said about B? That is what appears to be taking place here, and that is an ad hominem attack against Ireneaus. The attack on him is levelled in order to allow others to feel comfortable dismissing the statement relating to John's longevity. His report deserves to stand or fall, apart from some of his other claims. When key evidence against a theory (such as Ed's) is dismissed in such a flawed manner, it weakens the theory rather than defends it.


Date:

14 May 2002

Time:

09:23:30

Comments

Let's hope and pray that archeologists will uncover some text to add light to this issue. As for now we are left to speculation on exactly what "caught up" referred to. We cannot argue from silence, we can only speculate. Let's not divide our camp on this issue, but rather study and pray as we have been seeking truth all along. AM


Date:

14 May 2002

Time:

16:27:15

"That's totally flawed reasoning. The credibility of witnesses is not based on each isolated statement that they make, but is a synthesis of their behaviors to date." ... Please make your case on the synthesis of Irenaeus' behaviors to date. This would prove useful to Ed, and give substance to the dismissals of Irenaeus' statement on John's longevity, bringing it out of the sphere of ad hominem-ness. Prove your attack against Iren's overall reliability.


Date:

15 May 2002

Time:

14:02:38

Comments

Whoever you are: Here is a quote from "Against Heresies:" On completing His thirtieth year He suffered, being in fact still a young man, and who had by no means attained to advanced age. Now, that the first stage of early life embraces thirty years, and that this extends onwards to the fortieth year, every one will admit; but from the fortieth and fiftieth year a man begins to decline towards old age, which our Lord possessed while He still fulfilled the office of a Teacher, even as the Gospel and all the elders testify; those who were conversant in Asia with John, the disciple of the Lord [affirming] that John conveyed to them that information. And he remained among them up to the time of Trajan. Some of them, moreover, saw not only John, but the other apostles also, and heard the very same account as to the [validity of] the statement.


Date:

22 May 2002

Time:

10:19:53

Remote User:

Comments

I Cor 4:6 Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other. NKJV Eric S


Date:

22 May 2002

Time:

14:51:52

Remote User:

Comments

Dear Dave, Before 70AD,Christ and the FIRSTFRUITS and then the rest of us since 70AD on in to eternity.We are all ''raptured''on Gods timetable,read all of 1Cor 15.Since 70AD people were still on the earth and God called some of them into his kingdom Right after 70AD,100 years after,1000 years after and now 2000 years+ after 70AD.Gods church is NOT the visible organizations you see but an unseen organism in its reality.It is individuals that make up the body of Jesus Christ and we are scattered all over the world.Everytime one of us dies physically we are ''raptured'' into the realm of heaven.Why could God not take all the saints,living and dead up to 70AD,with him into heaven and continue to call people into the kingdom after 70AD? God could take all of us into heaven now and have 1000 people come into the kingdom tomorrow on this earth. Sincerly,Ed berry


Date:

26 May 2002

Time:

17:10:38

Comments

Mr. Stevens, I have always held much confidence in your views regarding Preterism. As I matured in my understanding regarding fulfilled eschatology and made the transition from Futurism to Partial Preterism and the to Full Preterism, it was reading your material and books from your book store that led the way. I considered you the Father or 20th century Preterism. Was I ever glad you did not hold thi view when I began my studies! For I would have probably remained a Futurist and confused. This new theory of yours just does not make sense to me. Now you decide to ignore the many historical writings regarding the apostle John's existance after AD 70 when you yourself used many of these writings in defense of the Preterist veiw! Do we now look at the writings of these early writers (i.e.Eusebius, Athanasius,etc.)on their belief on the fulfillment of Matthew 24 passages with the utmost of speculation? This is starting to sound like those other guys; using some of this material to reinforce their veiws while neglecting other material that does not substantiate it.You said,"If the apostle John lived beyond AD 70 the 'reception into heaven' promise of John 14:3 was not fulfilled." Well I say if a "rapture" did occur, then Jesus' own words in his prayer to the Father,as penned by the apostle John in John 17:15,20 saying,"My prayer is not that you TAKE THEM OUT OF THE WORLD but that you protect them from the evil one. My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message" was not fulfilled either. If jesus' words are fulfilled this sure sounds like an anti-rapture quote to me! You also state regarding the fleeing of christians to Pella: "evidently the mere 'professing' ones only fled to Pella." Am I to understand that Christ who foretold in Matthew 24 that there would be a pause in the events to allow "the mere professing ones only" to flee? Sounds a bit weird to me. You also mentioned that Elijah went to heaven, the heaven as we christians understand. Well this also contridicts Jesus' teaching as he said in John 3:13. You also assert that "Christ kept his word and 'received(the remaining disciples) to Himself' along with all the other faithful true sanctified believers who 'waited anxiously' for His return, and whose 'spirits and souls and BODIES' were preserved complete and blameless until the parousia." The where was the promised leadership for the church that was to endure forever? God did not remove the leadership of the nation of Israel after He gave them their holy writings and law. Why would He do such a thing to the christians? If as you suppose (and I concur) that the christian faith is a shadow and typical(temple typology) with the Jewish system, then this falls out of type! I feel your frustration regarding a lack of documents too. But I also suppose if all these important people were "rapured" away as you now believe, how about the lack of evidence or documentation by their friends, family, and even opponents as to their disappearance? I believe this theory of yours also has many holes in it. We do need to come together in understanding to see if there is an answer to thi lack of documentaion. Maybe something will surface. Then again maybe due to intense persecution the evidence was destroyed or not written. I will continue,though,to read with joy the many good books and articles you continue to write. Take care. Go with God!


Date:

05 Jun 2002

Time:

21:49:27

Comments

You guys never cease to amaze me!


Date:

10 Jun 2002

Time:

17:19:20

Comments

Bro. Stevens: You might like to know about this. I was talking to a Brother who is an earnest student of Scripture, and we were discussing the 'silence' issue. He, of course, advocated that if the Believers were caught up with our Lord in 70 A.D., why did not someone write about it. I calmly asked him, "Where were the believers in 70 A.D.?" He thought for a moment and couldn't come up with an immediate answer......I waited and suggested, "Weren't they in the mountains where Jesus told them to flee to escape the destruction of Jerusalem, the Jewish Economy and the traditional system of corrupt Judaism?" Then I waited and added, "If they could have come down, would they have put themselves in peril, or were they taken up with the Lord in the clouds of the heavens?" Then I suggested, "Who would have believed anything these lower caste Jews might have said and how could they say it if they weren't there? Circumlocution at its best. The Brother is still thinking, but coming more and more to see the rationale of Realized Eschatology or Preterism. Your Brother and Fellow Servant, Bob usmc1div@earthlink.net Pelham, N. C. USMC Korean Veteran : O Gung Ho!


Date:

24 Jul 2002

Time:

09:51:51

Comments

The reason there would be "true Christians" still around to document what really happened is because they would have listened to the warning the Apostles, prophets and especially Jesus gave (matt. 10:23). The ones who "truely believed" would have obeyed the wisdom given and would still have been around after AD 70 to testify that. I appreciate the stance made in this article. Kyle


Date:

04 Nov 2002

Time:

17:55:28

Comments

Finally someone got it RIGHT!!!!!!


Date:

11 Dec 2002

Time:

10:36:56

Comments

Hi, I did not find this article's conclusions about the Rapture persuasive at all, for the following reasons: 1. It seems just as likely that any post-AD70 writings from the original apostolic church were either lost or destroyed (by either the Roman authorities, or the Catholic Church). There's no need to have Christians disappear in order to explain the silence. 2. The author did not adequately substantiate that a literalistic interpretation of the Rapture passages is the most reasonable option. There's certainly the plausibility of understanding the Rapture texts in apocalyptic or metaphorical sense.


Date:

01 Feb 2003

Time:

17:15:48

Comments

After reading this article I skimmed over Russel's comments about the "rapture" and I don't think he demands a past physical rapture at all, here is a quote from his 1 Thess. comments, he begins by listing events prophesied which includes what he calls a "rapture of the living saints" but what is more important is that after this he says this: "but is it certain that these are facts cognisable by the senses? is their place in the region of the material and visible?"


Date:

17 Apr 2003

Time:

15:45:53

Comments

As a preterist I find several problems with Ed's paper. One is the timing concerning 66 AD. The meanings of Matthew 24 and related Mark and Luke and its signs become completely worthless since those concerned would have been raptured before they see the sign such as Jerusalem surrounded. Additionally I believe Ed misreads Josephus and book 6. Considering it only covers a one month period in describing the events paragraph 291 talks about events that "followed immediately upon it". It seems clear the passover in question was the one just before 70 AD and at that time Matt 24 and related would have some relevance. His ideas are interesting but he fails to take into consideration the the spiritual side of the resurrection see Phil 3:11, 12a for instance. More discussion is needed.


Date:

23 Jun 2003

Time:

10:24:19

Comments

This makes no sense. Glory to glory . Earth and heaven. Both. See Hebrews 11:13, these all died, Enoch, Moses, Ezekiel, no one was raptured in the old testament either.


Date:

23 Jun 2003

Time:

10:29:26

Comments

This makes no sense. Glory to glory IICor 3:18. First Earth and then heaven. Both. See Hebrews 11:13, these all died, Enoch, Moses, Ezekiel, no one was raptured in the old testament either.


Date:

21 Jul 2003

Time:

14:03:06

Comments

Mt. 19:28-29 does seem to necessitate that all 12 apostles would be glorified by the beginning of the destruction of Jerusalem, however, they were also told to flee to the mountains when they saw the temple about to be destroyed -- WHY if they were going to be raptured out of there? Perhaps Mt. 19:28-29 should be looked at again by all. Also, I would like to hear someone's comments on how this article fits with the tares being gathered and burned up before the wheat is gathered (Mt.13:41-43). Was Christ gathering out of His Kingdom things that offend until the end of the "tribulation," if so wouldn't that mean that the resurrection would not take place until God's wrath was complete?


Date:

25 Oct 2003

Time:

22:03:54

Comments

I'm pondering preterism and have come to appreciate the thoughtful and open discussions. In this case I was please to see that Mr. Stevens addressed one of my concerns, the early Christians' apparent lack of understanding of the significance of AD 70. His theory seems only slightly less plausible than others offered.


Date:

15 Nov 2003

Time:

00:05:18

Comments

Thanks Ed, for sharing the view. If "God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham" (Matt 3:9), then I have absolutely no problem that God is able to see that His word lived on forever even if the first century Church were caught up in AD 66 (or AD 70). After all, did God not raise up Moses to start the 'Church' in the wilderness after over 400 years of 'nothing'. Or raise up Ezra and Nehemiah to start the Mosaic 'Church' again after the magnificent Solomon Temple was totally destroyed? Why should we think it is impossible for God to raise up a new age of believers without the former being around? Indeed, God has made sure that His Word lives! That is why we still have the Bible today. The Apostles were inspired to record and write, as guided by the Holy Spirit, according to the prayer of our Lord Jesus Christ in John 17:20 - "Neither pray I for these [Apostles] alone, but for them also which SHALL believe on me through their word" (both spoken and written?). Frankly (but with due respect), I don't give much weight to what Eusebius, Irenaeus and many other 'early fathers' said, just as those with "Reverend" titles and high degrees from theological colleges today. They are as learned as the Pharisees. As far as I am concerned, they are not material witnesses, they are not inspired, what they wrote are at most hearsay. One quoted upon the other down history - and here we are, thinking everyone of them are writing gospel truth, witnesses to the real thing. How can we know that they have not unwillingly accepted some cunningly devised fables of men? After all, they are only human. 2Pe 1:16-18: For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but [we] were eyewitnesses of his majesty.... when we were with him in the holy mount. As for Paul, though he was not a material witness to Jesus' ministry, he was blessed to receive direct teaching and revelation from the Lord. (Gal 1:12, Eph 3:3). And what did the Lord taught Paul about the "caught up" event? 1Th 4:15-17: For this we say unto you BY THE WORD OF THE LORD, that we which are alive [and] remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep... 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. If the rapture were to be 2,000 (or even 3,000?) years away, then why did Paul, by the word of the Lord, gave false hope and comfort in his epistle to the Thessalonians that the Parousia will be in their lifetime - "we who are alive" - just as the Lord had say also in Mat 16:28! I think I still choose to believe "the Word of the Lord". It is finished! MS Cheo.


Date:

09 Mar 2004

Time:

17:47:18

Comments

The way I see it, there is NO "rapture" AT ALL---physical or spiritual that occurred in 70 AD (or will so in the future). Most Christians normally equate the WHOLE passage of 1 Thess. 4:13-17 with the idea of a "rapture," whereas only the Greek word harpazo: catch (away, up), pluck, pull, take (by force), when translated into the Latin: raptere, by itself is derived "rapture"----a big difference. When you compare 1 Thess. 4 with 1 Cor 15 and Matt. 24:29-31, you should conclude that they speak only of the resurrection---which every preterist believes to occur in the unseen realm.


Date:

18 Jun 2004

Time:

07:47:59

Comments

I think the 1st century rapture theory is based on a faulty premise, therefore the whole structure doesn't stand up. That premise is the nature of the "catching up" experience (I hate using that term RAPTURE!). The Bible consistently ties the concept of being caught up to heaven with being elevated in spiritual power and authority, not in physical altitude. We've been raised up to sit with Christ in heavenly places "far above all principalities, power, might and dominion and every name that is named in this age or the next". The manchild in Rev 12 was "caught up unto God, and to His THRONE". God said "Heaven is my throne, and the earth my footstool". The Psalmist wrote "I will make him my firstborn, HIGHER than the kings of the earth." In Daniel 7, when this "catching up"/parousia event was interpreted to Daniel, he was told "And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him." In all these cases, being lifted into heaven is equated with being lifted into rulership authority, not being removed from our planet. I think that our spiritual relationship with God under the new covanent has more to do with this "catching up" experience than does leaving the earth. A better understanding of its nature will go a long way toward clarifying what the 1st century believers entered into at the parousia. Nonetheless, I think the freedom to openly and freely share ideas, even ones that ultimately don't stand up to scrutiny, is the way we've gotten where we are, and the only way we'll come into greater truth. I cannot fault Ed for asking questions, thinking, and throwing an idea out there. Rob in Grafton WI


Date:

04 Nov 2004

Time:

16:05:02

Comments

My position is "dualist", meaning that the AD70 events were types of a greater future fulfillment. Preterists don't buy this either, but it does take into account all the time statements, yet avoids the overspiritualizations of full preterism. (Spiritual resurrection/rapture, we are reigning right now, etc). However, among the preterist theories, the AD70 rapture is the most viable, and the only other possibility if there is no future fulfillments. It explains everything, such as the often horribly spotty Church age. The main objection I see here is "the kingdom would never end on earth". As was said above "what Christ died to establish on Earth was disestablished, and was replaced with *something else.* The removal of the *entire* Church from the planet in A.D. 66 creates a radical discontinuity that necessarily implies the end of the Christian (New Covenant) Age in A.D. 66." But this assumes, based on the commonly cited proof texts (Psalms 78:69, Ps.104:5, Psalms 119:90, Ps. 148:1-6 Isaiah 9:7, Dan.7:27, etc.) that this old earth would continue on forever, and therefore, this must be where Christ "reigns" forever. But remember, there is supposed to be a "NEW" earth. If you take the new earth to be a different place where they were raptured to, that would explain why it was removed from our world. "The earth" (old and new) is here spiritualized as "Israel", but there is nothing to preclude that Christ would continue His reign on a new earth beyond this old one. If Israel, the temple is changed from a physical one to a spiritual one; why would the same old earth fulfill the "new earth"? After all, the one issue we cannot escape, is that when people die, they continue their "Kingdom existence" in another realm. The other objection is that "Christ says 'My prayer is not that you TAKE THEM OUT OF THE WORLD but that you protect them from the evil one'". But first of all, this was written before AD70, and refers to the time of trials before His return. It must, because for one thing, the "evil one" is gone after that according to the preterists! How can we apply every other promise to AD70, and leave this one for us now? Plus, we all must leave the world anyway. If a physical rapture (either in AD70 or in the yet future) negates this, then so does a spiritual "rapture" or "resurrection" to Heaven at death! So saying that those saints back then actually were taken to reign with Christ is far more plausible than redefining clear sense and action statements into mere platitudes, such as the idea that the saints were "reigning" on earth even as persecution increased (from the Romans now instead of the Jews), and the visible organization began a steady slide into apostasy, with true saints once again reduced to a small persecuted minority. through all of that. The rapture theory would explain that all, and if dualism (future antitypes) isn't true, this would be the only viable alternative. It still does not take into consideration the clear scope statements regarding the destruction of the wicked at Christ's return (both individuals involved in the battle of Armageddon as well as the smashing of all godless rule). But couple this with partial preterism (which teaches this is possibly the end of the Milennium and Christ is yet not finished with this world--and no, that would not be a "third coming"; but simply a later stage of the second), then this is the next logical option after dualism. http://members.aol.com/etb700/preterism.html


Date:

07 Dec 2004

Time:

04:31:09

Comments

Yes, the lack of documentation post AD 70 IS interesting, but Clement of Rome's epistle to the Corinthians seems to provide evidence for continuity of respected saints before and after AD 70 regardless of when we date his letter. It is clearly some time after the death (disappearance??) of Peter and Paul (ch 5:1) and late enough for its bearers to have been Christians from youth to old age for which period they have live exemplary lives among the community at Rome (ch 63:3). Furthermore Peter and Paul are described as of "our own generation" (ch 5:1) and some the original Corinthian elders seem to be still alive although others have died (Ch. 44) JohnS Adelaide


Date:

20 Jan 2005

Time:

14:50:21

Comments

What documentation would need to be written after 70AD by the church and it's leaders to prove that Jesus did come and fulfill his words? John described what the revealing of Jesus would accomplish, aka the destruction of Jerusalem, in Revelation. Was it not recorded after it took place? Certainly God is so great that he can move on an unbeliever, Josephus, and others to record the facts of his completed work. I don't think the post 70AD church needed their leaders to write more epistles saying, "See, I told you so, Jesus came just like he said he would." It was evident for all then, as well as us today to see that it was so. Joe S. Slowly and Studiously going from Futurist to Full Preterist.


Date: 16 Dec 2005
Time: 06:49:22

Comments:

What's your hope? If the Church was taken away to be with Christ in AD66, then the "Great Commision" was fulfilled in AD66. There has been no such thing as a Church or a Christian since... or rather should we just toss out the Bible (since it is completely fulfilled) and follow or own way?

No, the Scriptures are plainly still in a state of being fulflilled today. This argument is silly and wasteful, from both sides. It is full of people who respect the oppinions of man far too much, and are not as open to the council of God as they should be. Return to your first love. Praise God with your every breath. Study His Word (not the words of those who twist it with their own private interpretations) with His Word and Spirit as your guide. Become a disciple, then go make disciples!


Date: 18 Mar 2006
Time: 13:15:35

Comments:

I am thankful for the article concerning a Pre 70 rapture. It makes more sense to me that a "Blessed Hope" that is not even metioned as having occurred by Post 70 belivers. The Parousia is prophesied by the Lord as coming as a Thief in the night and that only those who were looking for Him would participate. There were five "foolish" and "five" wise Virgins. This to me seems to say that there were some that were Beleivers but were not awake to His coming, and there were some Believers that did not have enough oil to keep there lamps burning to go out to meet the Lord when he came. I think it is plausible that many were true Christians not ready for the Parousia but those that were ready went with the Lord. This would leave the ones that were not ready continuing the Church on earth. Because of the tumult of the time the ones taken could have been thought to have been killed or imprisoned. To me this seems to answer more questions than the Parousia happening and no one even bothering


Date: 08 Jun 2006
Time: 17:39:20

Comments:

Mr. Stevens is it not possible that only those disobedient amongst the Jews actually "saw" the Lord? Or is it that we have misunderstood the meaning of gathering together His elect? There are not a few preterists who understand that the gathering of God's elect from the 4 corners is the proclamation of the gospel message! Christ came in judgment as He did when Babylon destroyed Edom. He said that He would set His throne in Babylon and take away Edom's power. The silence in the years just after the destruction of Jerusalem can be attributed to the fact that the Church which was in Jerusalem had fled to other cities and were establishing themselves. What purpose was their for writing at that early date following that dispersion? The fact that Christ returned in judgment and fulfilled His promise was clearly seen in the destruction of the covenant breakers.

The church did not write in the early years following the destruction of Jerusalem because 1. They no longer had a center. 2. They were trying to settle themselves in other cities.

Many preterists understand that the gathering of the elect refers to the proclamation of the gospel following the end of the temple. Further, is it necessary to conclude that Christ returned visibly? God bless your work


Date: 11 Jul 2006
Time: 02:43:40

Comments:

Thank you, Mr Stevens, for a very thought-provoking article. I am not sure we have reached the correct conclusion but it does us good, I think, to open up our minds to any and all possibilities.
-- D. Neve (djn@microtec.fr)


Date: 01 Sep 2006
Time: 15:02:25

Comments:

Everyone is so quick to dismiss the case without fully responding to the arguments. I'm going to be open to this and many other views expressed by my Preterist Brothers and Sisters so that I may truly discover God's truths. Preterism has opened my mind to discovering the scriptures. Let's be careful to continue in that direction before it goes into all of these divisions.

We've all united because of Preterism and now we are doing our best to split it up. I am of so and so. Why not just make you case for your view without the bashing and criticizing the individual personally. You sound like my children fighting over whose toy it is.

None of these views keeps us from being God's children and saved. Let's discuss our views with respect and love and try to persuade with our hearts in love. No mater what their view on Preterism they are still you relative in Christ.

Hal Burch


Date: 20 Nov 2006
Time: 17:12:15

Comments:

Very fascinating article. Bu one question....Why wasn't Polycarp taken? Wasn't he discipled by John? If he was, then why wasn't he taken to heaven instead of being martyred. If those who were saved were to be raptured, then why wasn't Polycarp translated along with the other saints? Thank you though for a very thought provoking study.


Date: 07 Jan 2007
Time: 05:53:29

Comments:

I suppose my greatest preclusion to this view is the hope of resurrection. To stand again in a new body. If there can be this hope with this view, then I'm in.
finleysx6@netzero.com


Date: 24 Nov 2007
Time: 19:34:50

Comments:

Quote:"Silence demands an absence, since a continued presence could not have been silent!"
Excellent article and study.
Thank you
Steve


Date: 24 Feb 2009
Time: 11:48:15

Your Comments:

I think this point of view is acceptable. Out of the 10 virgins only 5 went to be with the Lord. We must assume that a few Christians were left and got woken up by these events - who then took over Christiany with more determination than ever - bringing the Gospel to us. As well there must have been some conversions based on these events. I was wondering if you could document reactions from non-Christians that witnessed some of those facts as well as from those left-behind Christians.

Pierre Cardin


Date: 20 Nov 2011
Time: 18:58:50

Your Comments:

To: Ed Stevens

Do you have a book entitled thr rapture? If so I would like to purchase a copy. My problem is those left behind. Were left behind until their own death and then experience a personal rapture(ressurrection)

Thank you
Ed Kuhn


Date: 27 Jul 2013
Time: 16:14:55

Your Comments:

If your theory was true then why didn't Josephus (or Suetonius) write about this calamity (re, Christians all raptured out of Judea-Palestine at the time of the Jewish-Roman War, or very soon afterwards? I don't find your argument from silence convincing on this issue (unlike the argument from silence on infant baptism). Someone, somewhere would have noticed that all the Christians were gone.
 


 

 

Click For Index Page

Free Online Books Historical Preterism Modern Preterism Study Archive Critical Articles Dispensationalist dEmEnTiA  Main Josephus Church History Hyper Preterism Main

Email PreteristArchive.com's Sole Developer and Curator, Todd Dennis  (todd @ preteristarchive.com) Opened in 1996
http://www.preteristarchive.com